Monday, November 7, 2011

Catwoman #1

DC Comics, 20 pages, $ 2.99

Writer: Judd Winick
Artist: Guillem March
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Sal Cipriano

Catwoman gets a lot of things right. There’s a fast-paced opening sequence that—literally—hits the ground running and pulls you in with great-looking art and solid storytelling from everyone involved. And it’s followed up by an equally convincing scene that makes both the protagonist and her friend seem like authentic characters. As far as action comics go, those first seven pages are good, entertaining stuff.

After that, though, the book loses the plot. There’s a fairly generic and uninspired sequence in which Catwoman infiltrates the Russian mob and stumbles across an old, unpleasant acquaintance in the process. It’s meant to be an intense moment, and I’m sure it’s just set-up for a story that’s going to make more sense in future issues, but right here, there’s nothing to latch on to—it’s just not all that interesting.

And then there’s that kinky five-page sex scene you’ve probably heard about, of course. Now, I’ve got no problem with sex scenes in superhero comics, in principle. And if Mr. Winick believes Catwoman and Batman humping each other without taking their costumes off is a story that he has to tell, that’s fine with me, too.

But, all that said, surely there are better, more interesting—and more exciting—ways to stage this type of sequence, particularly if you’re taking five pages to do it. What Winick and March have produced here is an unintentionally comical non-starter of a sex scene. It doesn’t look attractive. It doesn’t look interesting. It doesn’t look like the characters are having a lot of fun, either. Instead, it’s got all the grace and eroticism of a cheap 1980s soft-porn flick, with a final page that’s just plain laughable—and perhaps a little desperate. All that’s missing here are the fake moustaches, really.

Was that the idea? I kind of doubt it.

The allegations of sexism that some have been mounting against the comic, I don’t get, though. I mean, yes: casual intimacy as compensation for emotionally draining experiences is a well-worn cliché. It’s in High Fidelity. It’s in Monster’s Ball. It’s in dozens of other high-profile films. It’s poor and lazy storytelling, at worst, but hardly a moral offense.

Catwoman starts as an attractive action comic, but it loses steam halfway through and ends as a catastrophic turn-off.

Grade: C-

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