Friday, October 21, 2011

DC New 52 Review: Catwoman #2

Catwoman #2
Written by Judd Winick
Art by Guillem March
Cover Price
: $2.99

In a nutshell:
Too much artistic talent to waste on this kind of misfire!

I remember reading an interview some years back with an artist whom I had a great deal of admiration for (I'm thinking it was Steve Rude, but don't quote me on that), and he said that he doesn't draw gruesome gore because it was unattractive what you showed off panel, sometime in shadow or by implication in the story telling, usually had more emotional impact than what you showed because it left the reader to ponder what was happening. Because every reader might have a different idea of what was horrifying, it could deliver the same emotional impact by allowing the readers to come to different conclusions. And that doesn't just apply to horrific and frightening scenes, it can also apply to what is sexual and sensual. This Catwoman comic is throwing it all out right in front of you, and with the violence I find myself grossed out, but not shocked. There is very little that I can find shocking anymore when everything is thrown out right in front of you. And it's not that I'm offended by it. I'm unimpressed. It seems childish to me.

The first three pages of this comic basically recap the Batman/Catwoman sex scene from the end of last issue. It doesn't really give us much new to it except to say, hey, don't forget that sensationalist moment from last issue" and to imply that there is some violence in the way they "make love". It stops the story in an unnecessary way. And the main problem with this comic is that it feels like it's overplaying these scenes to yell out, "look at me, I'm provocative and audacious", and that's just too hollow without more meat in the book.

The biggest question I have is a branding question. I like the idea that there are Batman stories and cartoons geared towards my kids and I like the idea that there are movies and comics geared towards adults like myself. And I'm not a prude. I'm cool with unauthorized pornographic parodies floating around. But when DC has a licensed character that is marketed to a younger audience and you mix sex and violence in the context of masochism and fetishism, I'd think that DC would want to be more careful with their brand.

Why did I pick it up?
I believe that Guillem March has the potential to be one of the greats and Catwoman is a perfect vehicle for his career.

The Good:
My fear is that substance Guillem March's talents are going to be glossed over by his over sexualized artwork. Truth be told, I have no problem with the sexuality of his work, Catwoman is supposed to be a sexy and provocative character, but it's overused and often mixed in with graphic violence which make me feel very uneasy when viewing it. The true talent is in his expressions and characterization. There is definitely a European quality to his artwork that has elements of Moebius and Manara.

The Bad:
At the end of the story, Catwoman finds her friend dead. Never mind that we just met this friend last issue who apparently is supposed to be one of her closest friends, the body is displayed in her over tight t-shirt pushing her breasts outward with a bullet hold in her forehead and blood all over the floor. The scene feels like it's enjoying itself too much and the mix of really grotesque gore with with obvious sexuality is much too close to the disgusting trash that Avatar publishes. Catwoman is then beat up in a way that displays her skin tight costume with graphic use of blood and on the last panel the villain asks "is this the irritating woman who has stealing from me?", to which Catwoman whimpers the quip and a bit of a smirk, "That's me...", as if implying "hit me again, I like it!" There is something really masochistic about this scene. When Batman and Catwoman are finished having sex earlier in the book it's described as violent sex which will leave bruises. It's not that I don't believe there are people with these fetishes, but the implication that Catwoman likes it rough and enjoys being beaten, it does make me wonder if there is some misogynistic fetish being worked out here (and I normally hate to throw that word around because I think it's often abused).

The other real problem I have with this book is the way Bruce Wayne approaches Catwoman later in the book, whom doesn't know that he's Batman (despite them getting it on together in masks earlier that day). He tells her to stop texting and it comes off like some girl's jealous and controlling obnoxious college boyfriend. There's nothing charming about this Bruce Wayne, he has no class, and a woman with class wouldn't give him the time of day no matter how rich and handsome he was. His dialog sounds like comic shop fanboy talk. It's just not believable, especially for this character.

Is it worth it?
I seriously believe that Guillem March will be a name to watch if he can manage this own brand, but I can't recommend this comic. The things it has going for it, which are really strong, just get too buried in what feels like exploitive and distasteful hype. At the same time I really want this comic to work so I will continue to follow it for now and I will leave my updated reviews as further issues

No comments: