Gene Gonzales has been posting a series of drawings lately that feature DC characters re-imagined in 1968 fashions. So far he’s done Catwoman, Death, and The Riddler, but I’m hoping there’s a lot more to come, because these are fantastic.
Hell, now I want a DC ’68 mini-series almost as much as I want someone to start an art blog of Death in period-appropriate dress throughout the history of the world.
It’s difficult to type through the tears knowing that this Ben Caldwell drawing is not from a Catwoman comic I can buy with my money. What makes up for it is his promise to post more daily sketches, primarily at his Twitter account, but also – if we’re very good and eat our vegetables – on his blog. So get to following!
The Grumpy Old Fan/Women of Action crossover continues. In our first installment, Tom and I agreed that there are some interesting things going on in Catwoman and tried to fit Winick’s characterization into the context of Catwoman’s history (or rather, our limited understandings of Catwoman’s history). When we left off, I was trying to decide whether or not I trust Judd Winick to be telling The Last Self-Destructive Catwoman story and take the character into a positive direction. As we pick up, Tom helps me with that.
TOM: I agree that the ’60s TV show was a big influence on the character’s perception, although I’m not sure how much it really changed in the comics. There is certainly a lot of “crazy” in Michelle Pfeiffer’s 1992 Batman Returns performance, and I think a lot of that is an extension of the TV show more than, say, taking off from Batman: Year One. Maybe that’s part of what we’re seeing in the current series’ self-destructive aspects, although that could just be a coincidence.
That’s a good point about Gail Simone’s “Last Hostage Story,” and it would be a good time for the New-52 Catwoman to break out of a downward spiral. Selina’s flashes of extreme violence are presented as outbursts of deeply-repressed rage, like she’s ultimately mad at the world for trying to take away what she perceives as having gotten fairly. She talks herself into spending easily-traceable cash because she figures she deserves it, even though she knows she’s flirting with disaster. Similarly, in #6 she tells Batman she’s earned that money, and besides it would just go to very bad people. Conversely, when Bone tells Catwoman his own philosophy, she really lets him have it, because he killed her friend for daring to steal the property he prized so highly. For all her talk about “earnings,” she really does value her relationships more, but it’s almost like she doesn’t think she deserves them and ends up trying to satisfy herself materially (and sexually with Batman, of course). That’s a lot of emotional baggage to unpack, although from an historical perspective it makes this Catwoman less mature.
Anyway, the violence: as with issue #1′s sex scene, I didn’t really need to see Selina bite off Reach’s ear in issue #6. I suppose that shows us just how far gone Selina was at that moment, and it was arguably in keeping with #1′s eye-gouging, #3′s baseball-bat-beating, and #5′s fight, but maybe a little more discretion was in order. Actually, I say “maybe” without much sarcasm, because to me — as bad as it sounds — the violence almost needs to be as explicit as the sex, both to show their “importance” in Selina’s life and so that one doesn’t overwhelm the other. These six issues show an arc full of extremes (in the classical sense, not the ’90s sense), because that’s where Winick and March have put Selina. Contrast page 2 of issue #6 with the last panel of the last page. In both, Selina is wearing only her catsuit, sitting barefoot with her knees pulled up to her chest. On page 2, it’s because she’s in police custody, her gear’s been taken from her, and her hands are cuffed behind her back. There she’s trying to maintain a defensive pose, staring at the world with bug-eyed defiance. She’s vulnerable physically and trying to stay composed mentally. On the last page, though, it’s the opposite: having taken off her gear herself, her outward vulnerability shows Gwen she’s ready to open up inwardly, and her pose is more relaxed as a result.
[In a happy accident, Michael May and I were both planning to examine the current Catwoman series, so we decided to join forces for a special two-parter.]
TOM: For a little while last September, the first New-52 issue of Catwoman was one of DC’s more infamous books. It started literally with a shot of Selina Kyle’s bra, and it ended with her and Batman doing it, as they used to say, like they do on the Discovery Channel. Back then, Catwoman #1 was yet another example of DC Doing It Wrong, trading on cheesecake to sell comics, and ignoring what the likes of Ed Brubaker, Darwyn Cooke, and Will Pfeifer had done with the character in the process.
When I read Catwoman #1 along with every other New-52 first issue, honestly, the sex scene bothered me. It seemed unnecessary in the context of a pretty decent first issue, and it did seem like writer Judd Winick and artist Guillem March were taking a characterization shortcut by establishing Selina firmly in relation to Batman. Granted, it was presented as Selina practically willing Batman into the act — she notes that he “protests,” then “gives in” — but all things being equal, I’m still not sure you want your first issue to end with “and then I seduced the heck out of Batman.”
Nearly five months after the debut of DC Comics’ “New 52,” the Washington, D.C., Fox affiliate has taken aim at the “edgy makeover,” zeroing in on the controversial first issues of Catwoman and Red Hood and the Outlaws.
For the Fox report, titled “Relaunched Comics Using Sex and Violence to Sell” on the affiliate’s website, correspondent Sherri Ly turns to child psychologist Neil Bernstein, who characterizes the much-discussed sex scene between Batman and Catwoman as, “sort of like a fictionalized Playboy for kids at its worst.”
He goes on to suggest the comic may pose a danger to young readers, as overexposure to sex and violence could encourage aggression. Yes, really. “I think too many kids would be put in harm’s way or at risk,” he said.
Bernstein also dissects Red Hood and the Outlaws #1, in which Starfire propositions Roy Harper for sex, later saying, “Love has nothing to do with it.” “We want our kids to think sex is an act between two consenting mature individuals who care deeply for one another,” he says. “That doesn’t really come across and it’s too easily to misconstrue things particularly for a kid.”
Conventions | Wizard’s executive chairman Mike Mathews tells Heidi MacDonald that after the resignation of former CEO Gareb Shamus, the company wants to be “a Switzerland of entertainment” and mend fences with members of the industry: “Gareb is one of these types of personalities who has taken strong positions over the years with various people in the industry and brands. And that kind of hurt us because of where we are trying to go — we’re trying to be a Switzerland of entertainment and we want to try to try to reach out to brands.” MacDonald notes the company is offering a $100 credit toward Wizard conventions to former Wizard subscribers whose subscriptions abruptly ended when the magazine was shut down. A new CEO is expected to be named early next month. [The Beat]
Conventions | Image Comics announced several more guests for the Image Expo, scheduled for Feb. 24-26 in Oakland, California. The lineup now includes Blair Butler, John Layman, Rob Guillory, Nick Spencer, Joshua Fialkov, Joe Keatinge, Jim McCann and Jim Zubkavich, among many others. [press release]
Organizations | The Associação da Luta Contra o Cancer is running an awareness campaign in Mozambique featuring images drawn by artist Maisa Chaves of Wonder Woman, Catwoman, She-Hulk and Storm checking their breasts for lumps. [Daily Mail]
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes, and first issues so that I don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “ Life with Archie is still awesome!” every month. And I’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.
Also, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell me what I missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
Richie Rich Gems Winter Special - In addition to their modern-look Richie Rich, Ape has also re-introducied the classic version in both new and reprinted adventures. I missed the solicit for Richie Rich Gems #44 last month (which picked up where the Harvey series left off in 1982), but the series continues with not only the Winter Special, but #45 as well.
Dragons vs Dinosaurs - I haven’t had great luck with Arcana’s books in the past, but c’mon. The title alone…
Hero Happy Hour: On the Rocks - This, on the other hand, is no risk at all. I’m a big fan of Dan Taylor and Chris Fason’s superhero bar stories and this is an all-new, 80-page adventure. Not reprints; not even a printed version of the webcomic. It’s all-new and I need it.
The Dare Detectives: The Snow Pea Plot Collected Edition – Archaia prepares for their publishing Ben Caldwell’s Dare Detectives: The Kula Kola Caper by re-publishing the first story that was originally put out by Dark Horse.
In many ways, for longtime DC superhero readers, this is the first week of the rest of our lives. This is the week the first batch of New-52 second issues come out, and as such, this week the New 52 stops being a September-specific gimmick. We all know the second issue is where the rubber meets the road. Accordingly, in conjunction with a look at December’s titles, here’s where I am after a month of first issues.
Back when the September solicitations came out, I listed 37 books that I was planning at least to try:
Action Comics, All-Star Western, Aquaman, Batgirl, Batman, Batman And Robin, Batwing, Batwoman, Blackhawks, Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, Catwoman, DC Universe Presents, Demon Knights, Detective Comics, The Flash, Frankenstein: Agent Of SHADE, The Fury Of Firestorm, Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern: New Guardians, Grifter, Justice League, Justice League Dark, Justice League International, Men Of War, Mister Terrific, Nightwing, Red Lanterns, Resurrection Man, Static Shock, Stormwatch, Supergirl, Superman, Swamp Thing, and Wonder Woman
Although I risk reigniting the controversy over Catwoman #1, I couldn’t resist posting this reimagining of Guillem March’s cover by DrawAARGHHH — I couldn’t find a real name — that substitutes Bruce Wayne for Selina Kyle. I think it’s the caption that hooked me: “Batman. He’s not the hero Gotham needs, but he is the one that Gotham desires.” Or maybe it was that the bag of diamonds looks vaguely phallic.
See the full image below, along with March’s original. Catwoman #2, by March and writer Judd Winick, arrives Oct. 19.
Comics | Dismayed by the portrayal of Catwoman in DC Comics’ relaunched series, Alyssa Rosenberg of ThinkProgress asks whether feminists are wasting their time in hoping and lobbying for better portrayals of women in mainstream superhero comics. While she understands the desire to walk away, the decides in the end “it’s worth it to keep nudging”: “… Even if the industry doesn’t change, there should be voices in the background when folks read these books pointing out their problems. The key is getting folks who really just want to see, say, Catwoman bang Batman and nothing else to hear those critiques and to find a way to engage with them constructively, which is really, profoundly difficult. But I’d rather live in a world where people who don’t want to hear the works they like criticized have to work to shut them out, rather than leaving them to relax into the blissful sounds of silence.”
At The Atlantic, Noah Berlatsky points out that not all comics are like Catwoman or Red Hood and the Outlaws, and recommends some alternatives. Meanwhile, Tom Foss jokingly suggests that the “new” Starfire is merely replacing longtime New Teen Titans creeper Terry Long. [ThinkProgress, The Atlantic]
Casting an eye over the expanse of superhero comics, you’ll find yourself looking at a number of heroes so popular that they’ve spawned spin-off characters that are either younger, pluckier or, more often than not, of the opposite sex. From DC’s Supergirl (tied to Superman) to Marvel’s Ms. Marvel (connected to Captain Marvel), this has been a trend going on longer than most of us have been around. But in this world of male heroes sharing their costume designs with women, I’ve always wondered why there isn’t much going the opposite way: heroes who base their costumes and names on heroines.
One of the key reasons is that by sheer number there are far more popular male superhero characters than female characters. By my unscientific estimation, the only female superheroes the general public could name would be Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Invisible Woman, Catwoman, Jean Grey and Storm. Compare that to the male heroes most people know, and you’ll get the picture. But even then, where are the male counterparts to those female heroes I mentioned?
The closest thing we have to that is DC’s Catman, the lone example of an in-continuity character borrowing his style from a female character — Catwoman. There’s also the rare alternative universe where all genders are switched, such as Earth-11 as seen in Teen Titans Spotlight #11, or other unique circumstances.
I’m not saying DC should bring back Wonder Man (or Captain Wonder) as a counterpart to Wonder Woman in the New 52, but she does have a pair of star-spangled pants she’s not using.
A week after the first issues of Catwoman and Red Hood and the Outlaws stirred controversy with their depictions of Selina Kyle and Starfire, DC Comics has released its first official statement on the matter. Well, at least on part of it.
“We’ve heard what’s being said about Starfire today and we appreciate the dialogue on this topic,” a representative wrote last night on the publisher’s Twitter feed. “We encourage people to pay attention to the ratings when picking out any books to read themselves or for their children.”
Red Hood and the Outlaws #1, which depicted a string bikini-clad Starfire as a semi-amnesiac who has sex with Red Arrow simply because he’s there — “Do you want to have sex with me?” — is rated “T” for teen, meaning it’s deemed appropriate for readers age 12 and older. “T”-rated titles “may contain mild violence, language and/or suggestive themes.”
DC’s statement arrived hours after a widely circulated article appeared on i09.com in which fantasy author Michele Lee asked her 7-year-old daughter, a fan of Starfire from the Teen Titans animated series and comic books, what she thought of the version appearing in Red Hood and the Outlaws.
“I mean, grown ups can wear what they want,” the girl said, “but … she’s not doing anything but wearing a tiny bikini to get attention. [...] I want her to be a hero, fighting things and be strong and helping people. [...] Because she’s what inspires me to be good.”
Publishing | DC Comics associate editor Janelle Asselin has left the company, reportedly for a job with Disney. She clarifies on Twitter that, contrary to a report, she wasn’t escorted from the building on Tuesday but, rather, left “at my leisure.” Asselin had been with DC since 2008, working primarily on Batman books like Batman and Robin, Batman: Streets of Gotham, Red Robin, Birds of Prey and the relaunched Batman, Batwoman, Detective Comics and Savage Hawkman. [Bleeding Cool]
Publishing | Longtime editor Betsy Mitchell is taking early retirement from her post as editor-in-chief of Del Rey, where she helped create Del Rey Manga. Tricia Pasternak, a former Del Rey Manga editor herself, has been promoted to editorial director. Del Rey was established as a science fiction prose imprint; the manga line was created in 2004 and was mostly shut down in 2010, when Kodansha began publishing its manga directly in the U.S. However, Del Rey still publishes a handful of manga and graphic novels, including xxxHolic, King of RPGs, and Deltora Quest. [Publishers Weekly]
Legal | In a twist that sounds like something out of a comic (or even an ad from an old comic), a witness in the Michael George trial testified he saw someone wearing an obviously fake beard outside George’s Clinton Township, Michigan, comics shop a few minutes before George’s first wife Barbara was murdered inside the store in 1990. [The Tribune Democrat]
Some fans and comics pundits have been up in arms over the past few days about the sexual depictions of two of DC’s characters in the New 52. In this week’s Catwoman #1, we saw some heated foreplay between Batman and Catwoman that’s raised eyebrows and, perhaps, the profile of the relaunched title. Artist Eric Canete has responded to the fervor with a comic. Instead of trying to explain it further, just read:
This brings up a lot of questions that I’ll leave to the comments section below. But mine is this: When do we get to see Eric Canete do some more comics?