What Batman & Catwoman Can Teach Us.

Posted by FoxxFireArt (3556 posts) - - Show Bio

What Batman & Catwoman Can Teach Us.

These two characters made a choice not to be a victim, but to make themselves into something great.

What many comics published today lack is a sense of a moral. If you look at some of the greatest stories ever told. They have a lesson hidden within the pages. A lot of people are under the impression that Batman is popular becasue the story is darker and mature. I strongly disagree. The story of Batman resonates with readers becasue he's the closest to us. He has a lesson in the narrative that goes back to his very origin. Catwoman's story isn't that dissimilar. If anything, I see her story as a dark shadow of Bruce's tale. For every way they are different, they are similar. It must be why they fit so well.

The lesson is all about overcoming adversity. These characters were seriously challenged at some times in the lives. Neither wallowed in self pity, but worked to make themselves great in a world filled with people given powers through accidents, science, mysticism, or just born super. Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash. They were all given their power, Bruce and Selina made a choice. That right there is the greatest difference.

Batman

Batman: Bruce Wayne

The story of Bruce's origin is well known to people who've never even read a comic. It's just that ingrained into pop culture, but I'll hit the finer points for the sake of this article. Bruce was a young boy with two loving parents who wanted the best for their only son and the corrupt city of Gotham. Yet, they both lost their lives in a tragic and violent crime. Unlike most heroes, this could actually happen to anyone.

I often hear people say that Bruce Wayne isn't relatable becasue he's super rich. I say that his wealth is all part of the point when it comes to Batman. It makes a very important point to the reader. That wealth meant that Bruce could have literally done anything with his life. He could have wallowed in self pity and been the real vapid playboy he often pretends to be. He could have moved away to some tropical island and didn't have to work another day in his life. Rather than be the victim, He made the choice to train himself in both mind and body to fight crime so that no one would ever suffer as he did.

You can argue as to whether or not the goal of cleaning up Gotham is possible, but he's fighting toward a goal without all the blessings of super powers. He's a lesson to people that you may suffer tragedy in life,but you are only a victim if you let yourself be. You can reach incredibly heights by standing on your own two feet and working to become better. It is possible.

Here's a little lesson for writers. A more complicated origin doesn't make it more interesting. Especially if you want readers to relate to your character. Occasionally, I'll see writers try and imply that the Waynes were murdered as some part of a larger conspiracy. I've always been vehemently against that idea. It's because no one can relate to that. Having it be a random act by a no name criminal is what makes the story so tragic.

Catwoman

Catwoman: Selina Kyle

This week I wrote a blog post (The Real Catwoman Disappears from DC Comics) venting my frustrations over the rather offensive retelling of Catwoman's origin told my Ann Nocenti in CATWOMAN #0. Her origins have been up for interpretation by many. Some writers get it right, and others get it extremely wrong. I'm going to be concentrating on Frank Miller's BATMAN: YEAR ONE vision, and I'm gong to completely ignore the artificial extension DC created years later called HER SISTER'S KEEPER that attempted to fill in the gaps. Miller shows a strong, independent, and hard to control Selina. Mindy Newell's addition to YEAR ONE was little more than an attempt to artificially leach off a much more grand story, and it ignored the very core of the person Miller crafted.

Selina Kyle is very much a dark shadow of Bruce's story. Though she was also born in Gotham, she didn't have all the advantages. She didn't come from a loving, traditional family, as Bruce did. Some versions had her with a mother who committed suicide, and a father she either never knew or was abusive. She was orphaned by a different means. The tragedy here is that far too many kids know about this and can relate. She wasn't given any wealth and ended up in the utterly broken Gotham child welfare system. Even has a young girl, she discovers that the people running the orphanage -- or child's home -- are embezzling money. She calls in a tip to bust the people running the place, and runs off with a fair bit of their ill-gotten gains to be on her own.

There weren't a lot of opportunities in a city such as Gotham, and she found herself in the seedy side in a job as a prostitute. Many find this idea as offensive. That's becasue the first place their mind goes is all the stereotypes of being constantly abused and manipulated. That doesn't mean she didn't pick her clientele, or someone made her do something she didn't agree with. I've never thought Selina was trusting enough of anyone to let someone get close enough to abuse her, the way Newell implied. Why is it that so many writers always think that a strong female character needs to have been a victim of domestic or sexual abuse in their past to be empowered? Is it so hard to believe that maybe Selina is a woman who's confident in her sexuality? Paul Dini gets it. While not a prostitute, I have a friend who works in the adult video industry. We've known each other since we were kids, she's always been strong willed, picks who she works with, and no one makes her do anything she's not okay with. That job doesn't define her, she also travels the world to climb mountains, and I'm proud to call her my friend. Similar to my friend, Miller showed a strong, forceful, and hard to control woman in Selina.

He proves that when he shows Selina dislocating the jaw of her pimp and walking off with her friend Holly to find another way to earn money. People say she did this becasue Stan hurt her. I think Miller meant that to be Selina protecting Holly. She even gave a younger, post-training Bruce a challenging fight. She becomes Catwoman by her own choice. She enjoys the thrill, the challenge, and it makes her happy. She doesn't need powers or some mystic origin.

These two go well together becasue they're alike in many ways.

It's all about the choices they make. That's what makes Selina and Bruce great, and it's a power that every human has the potential for. Selina could have stayed in the sordid world of Gotham. While Selina made a more selfish choice. It was one for her own happiness. She just has some serious trust issues. With these two, it's not their minds, bodies, or skills that make them great or super. They're extraordinary becasue they made the choice and had the will to do something about it. Other heroes need super powers to be great, and it was something just given to them by some extraordinary means. No one can relate to that, and could any of the other godly-powered super heroes of the DCU accomplish the same thing these two did on their pure effort? The moral of Batman is stand up and make a difference through study and hard work. The moral of Selina is that you don't have to be stuck in a bad situation if you take the chance to find happiness and improve yourself.

-Kristoffer Remmell (FoxxFireArt) is a freelance graphic artist, writer, and over all mystery geek.- Follow for news updates: @ FoxxFireArt

#1 Edited by chipsnopotatoes (328 posts) - - Show Bio

Well, I wish we could pick and choose canon as selectively as you do. The prostitute origin, at best, is a double edged sword. Given that the bat editor at the time absolutely hated Catwoman, I doubt it was done with the best of intentions for the character. Also, I wouldn't hold up Paul Dini as a shining example of writing Selina as a woman confident in her sexuality. Have u read his Heart of Hush and Gotham City Sirens at all? She was basically semi-fridged (had her heart ripped out by Hush and attached to a transplant machine pretty much through out the story) to give Batman something to angst about. She has one page for revenge on Hush (where she steals all his money, that I'll give to Dini). Her weakened condition leads to her teaming up with Ivy and Harley in the abominable Gotham City Sirens, where she was constantly having to be saved by the other two. As for Arkham City, LOL. While her moves looked fun and she kicked ass, she was largely a caricature of a sexpot (complete with Elvira eyeliner) than a femme fatale. Have you seen TDKR? That's actually the best Selina we've had in years.

#2 Posted by FoxxFireArt (3556 posts) - - Show Bio

@chipsnopotatoes said:

Well, I wish we could pick and choose canon as selectively as you do. The prostitute origin, at best, is a double edged sword. Given that the bat editor at the time absolutely hated Catwoman,

Given how DC often disregards their own timeline. It's a pretty easy decision between which stories should matter. I mean, which should I side with? An award winning author who has crafted some of the more iconic DC stories and works have been adapted into blockbuster films, or a writer who did nothing but make Selina a victim and never wrote for Catwoman ever again?

I think Frank Miller did a fantastic job with that and made Selina forceful. He never showed her as a victim or weak. He obviously didn't want that for her since he never showed it in YEAR ONE.

Have you seen TDKR? That's actually the best Selina we've had in years.

Well, that explains a lot.

#3 Posted by chipsnopotatoes (328 posts) - - Show Bio

@FoxxFireArt:

Given how DC often disregards their own timeline. It's a pretty easy decision between which stories should matter. I mean, which should I side with? An award winning author who has crafted some of the more iconic DC stories and works have been adapted into blockbuster films, or a writer who did nothing but make Selina a victim and never wrote for Catwoman ever again?

Not sure why you're so upset. It's not really a matter of siding with which author. I doubt Miller and Newell are at odds with each other. All I'm saying is that if we go by Brubaker's run (which many claim to be the best Catwoman run ever), Magdalene Kyle and Selina being trained by Wildcat are canon. Both were introduced in Her Sister's Keeper. So I'm afraid HSK does matter. You're actually one of the few Catwoman fans I know who like Year One but not HSK. Usually, those who like one like the other. Oh well.

I think Frank Miller did a fantastic job with that and made Selina forceful. He never showed her as a victim or weak. He obviously didn't want that for her since he never showed it in YEAR ONE.

Well he didn't have enough foresight to think what a slippery slope that might be and how others might twist that into something else. That's why I say it's a double edged sword.

Well, that explains a lot.

LOL. Indeed it does. I prefer my Selina with a modicum of class unlike Arkham City's.

#4 Posted by FoxxFireArt (3556 posts) - - Show Bio

@chipsnopotatoes said:

Not sure why you're so upset.

I don't make assumptions of your emotional state based upon reading text. I'd appreciate it if you did the same. =)

#5 Posted by Strafe Prower (11887 posts) - - Show Bio

Nice blog! While I do enjoy both Year One and HSK, I understand where you are coming from here. I'm going to have to re-read this issues and come back to give a full length discussion.

#6 Posted by FoxxFireArt (3556 posts) - - Show Bio

@Strafe Prower:

Here's my issue with HSK. Back when Frank Miller did YEAR ONE, he did something controversial is making Selina a prostitute. Yet, he did it in a way that broke with all the classic stereotypes that come with that kind of past. When people think of a prostitute character their mind always goes to being constantly physically and sexually abused on a daily basis and having the low self esteem to put up with it.

Miller broke those stereotypes. Through the whole story he showed her strong, willful, and hard to control. It was obvious that she was the kind of woman who wasn't forced to do anything she didn't agree with. She made all her own choices and was confident in herself. She made herself Catwoman the same way Bruce made himself Batman.

Cut to several years after YEAR ONE's publication, and DC has Mindy Newell, a writer of far less imagination and skill, put all the stereotypes into Selina's story. She was being beat up, forced to wear the catsuit by Stan, and it was other people that had to give her confidence in herself rather than just always being a confident girl. Newell's version completely contradicts the very core of who Miller created. Yet we're expected to consider this as part of canon just becasue she added maybe three scenes of YEAR ONE in.

It' just seems irritating that so many writers just can't write a female character being strong and confident in her sexuality without some domestic or sexual abuse in her history. They did the same thing to Black Cat. Just like my friend who works in the porn industry. She's a woman who's just confident in herself and she enjoys sex. For as long as I've known her. She's been willful and hard to control.

#7 Posted by LoganRogue24 (1187 posts) - - Show Bio

i love bruce and selina as lovers they fit so well.

#8 Posted by HexThis (901 posts) - - Show Bio

@chipsnopotatoes said:

Well, I wish we could pick and choose canon as selectively as you do. The prostitute origin, at best, is a double edged sword. Given that the bat editor at the time absolutely hated Catwoman, I doubt it was done with the best of intentions for the character. Also, I wouldn't hold up Paul Dini as a shining example of writing Selina as a woman confident in her sexuality. Have u read his Heart of Hush and Gotham City Sirens at all? She was basically semi-fridged (had her heart ripped out by Hush and attached to a transplant machine pretty much through out the story) to give Batman something to angst about. She has one page for revenge on Hush (where she steals all his money, that I'll give to Dini). Her weakened condition leads to her teaming up with Ivy and Harley in the abominable Gotham City Sirens, where she was constantly having to be saved by the other two. As for Arkham City, LOL. While her moves looked fun and she kicked ass, she was largely a caricature of a sexpot (complete with Elvira eyeliner) than a femme fatale. Have you seen TDKR? That's actually the best Selina we've had in years.

It's a real shame. What I've said time and time again was that the most ignored component of Selina's character is that she's actually really smart. If you look into the history of any cat burglar, morally corrupt or not, they're all brilliant. Surely someone who's capable of bypassing state-of-the-art security systems all by her lonesome, someone who can outwit the world's best detective would probably bank on a profitable career as a master thief before having to slum it by being a prostitute. Dominatrix, maybe but a prostitute? Half the fun of Selina's character is that she's resourceful and self-made, she doesn't give in that easily.

That's what TDKR got right. I liked that Bruce's initial attraction to Selina is her wits and that she's frequently referred to as a "master theif". Nolan clearly understood that was the zeitgeist, not her sexual prowess...it'll be there anyways. By the way, for someone purported to be so uber-sexual she's had only 3-ish lovers in the past decade and a half- Slam, Bruce, and "Stark" (James).

And Paul Dini just isn't a Catwoman kind of guy. He doesn't get it. He's way more into Harley, he's positively infatuated by her. And why wouldn't he be? It's his greatest creation. Any time he writes another woman it's basically cheating for him.

#9 Posted by Stronger (4948 posts) - - Show Bio

Exactly what I think about all the time.....

It's cool to see that other people apart from me share these opinions.

#10 Posted by Nightwing4 (366 posts) - - Show Bio

Read Hush. Then proceed to like Selina.

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