So, like many of her DC colleagues, Catwoman is in essence the same girl we know and love but the relaunch has left her a bit...tapped. For me, personally, a child of the 90's who was all about the nutzo Michelle Pfieffer Catwoman it's been pretty entertaining. So many superheroes are noble, ethical, non-contradictory and safe and so many supervillains are calculated and take ridiculous, sometimes overly elaborate precautions to ensure their dirty deeds stick, it's nice to see someone who's just sort of winging it. It's relatable for those of us who are a complete and total mess which is, let's face it, most of us. Selina cashes in on whatever good luck comes her way and runs on fumes till the sweet satisfaction of a damn good heist has her momentarily living good.
But after a particularly brutal moment in her last comic, I felt as though a proper assessment of the benefits and drawbacks of her Catwoman Interrupted phase were worth noting. What brutal moment you say? Angry sex with Batman? Almost beating a guy to death? Ermm, well, they're good candidates but here's what I had in mind....
YOWZA. Your eyes do not deceive you, this is Selina pulling a Tyson to get herself out of fix. A part of me has a fondness for this image because it reminds me of my own cat when she's cornered but I must say it really shocked me.
So without further adieu, let's get started.
PRO - It's Realistic
Look, someone who dresses up as a cat and goes out of thieving sprees after a tormented childhood lush with abuse and abandonment is bound to behave strangely. Not that comicbooks should reflect complete and total realism but I've found that in any form of expression, a basis in reality is key before things get too tangential. Part of the reason for why Holly temporarily took Selina's place as Catwoman (from an editorial standpoint) was because she was less "polished" than Selina which would provide for some entertainment. No offense to Holly but there's only one Catwoman for me. As far as I'm concerned, Selina doesn't need a foil to play out darker or lighter sides of her personality- she is (as the fable goes) the cat who walks by herself (and fans of the animated series in the 90's will catch the reference *wink* *wink*). She's got enough reasons to be a nut, let her ride it out! What's a character without inner-conflict? Boring. And it's important to me that Catwoman be anything but.
Say what you like about Judd Winick, I know I certainly did when he couldn't get through an interview about Catwoman without gushing all over her "sexiness" but I've been pleasantly surprised by the grit and brevity he brings to her character. He's spent surprisingly little time on the more superficial aspects of her character, avoided animal sounds like "mrrrrrooooow!!", and actually dug a bit deeper into Selina's compulsive stealing and what it means. In her first issue, Selina says she needs a "gig" to quell her restlessness and to me the frantic nature of her heisting and pilfering is more believable than a woman in a ball gown drinking merlot casually deciding to rob a museum or prostitute turning her profession into theft over one grudge and a desire for attention.
CON - Immaturity
I'm not a prude, I can appreciate that Selina enjoys a good lay with Batman as it was the innuendo of all their scenes beforehand. That being said, I do think that their chemistry also roots from a deeper understanding of abandonment, passion, along with accents of self-loathing and despair. I like Batman dragging her away from the edge in a sense but I also think it's important that we see how Catwoman liberates him as well and not just sexually but emotionally. I don't mind Selina loses her marbles but being reduced to a child throwing tantrums isn't something I want to see either. I like Batman scolding her in some ways but I would also like to see her be his intellectual equivalent more often, it's not as though he's a vision of sanity and clarity either...
PRO - It's EXCITING
When I first saw this...
... I was like "Wa-oh, it's ON, Catwoman is going to do the deed and nix someone completely" yet this is what happened...
Okay so she didn't kill anyone but that we may have believed for a fraction of a second that she would is not only interesting but riveting. Batman won't kill, Superman won't kill, hardly any superheroes enable themselves to cross that boundary but Catwoman isn't necessarily a superhero. It did make sense to me that she was never in favor of killing but who, in her position, wouldn't at least struggle with it? Or entertain the possibility? Her profession puts her in the company of degenerates on a daily basis and when one tortures and murders her friend is she wrong to seek revenge? I don't think so.
We see leads in comic books show up in the nick of time or have moments of deus ex machinas where they were actually the puppetmaster all along and a whole slew of other cliches. Even in those more morally complex like Wolverine you know his modus operandi, with the Catwoman we have now you have to let the chips fall where they may (second BTAS reference) and see what happens next. Genuine suspense is something hard to come by in a character so old, you gotta appreciate the freshness of it all.
CON - It Can Be Sorta Depressing
If it elicits a strong reaction, the artist or author did their job but every now and then characters deserve to have a good time and Catwoman is no exception. I invite the dysfunction but at the same time we've seen so many characters become so dark and serious it can get cliched and overly cynical. Catwoman is no Rorschach, a lot of the finesse of her character is joviality and self-satisfaction and I don't want to see that fade in favor of her darker struggles. Granted, I hate to see Catwoman poorly written, overly campy, and trivialized but she does have a humor and lightheartedness about her as well that accents that darker aspects to and I hope to see more of that.
I'm pretty happy with Catwoman at the moment, I feel as though Judd Winick has really given her something to do other than be either a cavalier, thieving sex object or a boring softened villain who's too indecisive to a hero. While there is room for improvement, I'm glad Catwoman is staying within parameters of what she should be but playfully defiant of that as well. The sex appeal, the visual aspect of her character is always going to be there so capitalizing on her as a person with feelings I think is paramount. I loved the Catwoman we've seen over the past decade and I'm glad to see she's not lost on this new incarnation completely but instead, rather, something this Catwoman could aspire to and eventually become. If she had it all figured out there wouldn't be a journey, there wouldn't be any growth which is essentially the sole duty of comic book creators and the characters themselves- to tell a story .