Already a controversial subject, I read the new Catwoman #1 by Judd Winick and Guillem March and will agree that it's not a children's book but not entirely shocking.

Since her inception in the real Batman #1 in 1940, Catwoman has always been portrayed as overtly sexy and causing sexual tension with the Caped Crusader. It's part of her persona. I'm not mortified that she has a massive bra collection. And yes, she does flaunt her body. A lot. On every page. But that only backs up my point that this DCnU is merely the 1990s redone because that's when Selina Kyle's physical attributes maxxed out!

Is she still an ex-prostitute as Miller made her? Possibly, there's some implication of that but it's not a major issue. She obviously had a traumatic experience when she was younger. She speaks Russian fluently. Could she be Russian now? Or of Russian descent? Interesting given the high volume sex trade of the former Soviet Union. That may lead to more serious issues.

Did she kill the Renald creep? Or just sliced him up? Catwoman really can't kill anyone due to her closeness to Batman. And she is featured in the next Dark Knight film. But her rage is unstoppable and its effects should be explored.

We don't know who attacked her in the beginning but we do know that she no longer knows Batman's secret identity though she clearly knows him.

As for the last pages, I'm no prude and it's no worse than what you see on an 8 PM show but again there are repercussions and aftermaths to be considered. Has Batman ever captured Catwoman? Has she ever been arrested? Does he want her caught? Is she there for his convienence? He can find her but she can't find him. The fact that he seems "angry" and it never "takes long" speaks more on Batman's problems than hers.

Is Selina Kyle her own woman or has she become Batman's secret "kept" woman? To be hidden away but never become part of his life? I understand the concerns better now but will wait and see how or if they are resolved. As I said, Catwoman is in the new movie so DC will push her as a sex symbol/anti-hero but then again, that what they have always done!

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You know, I didn't have any problem with the opening Catwoman scene. I've seen a lot of complaints since I read it, saying that her face wasn't shown for several panels so it's pandering-slash-misogyny. I didn't see that when I first read it, and I only see it now if I squint a lot. What I saw was a typical MOVIE opening for a caper flick, one where you don't see the principal's face for the opening credits, or the opening scene, when briefcases are exchanged, trains are boarded, signals are given, and so forth. I've seen lots of movies that open that way, and the opening of Catwoman #1 had a very cinematic feel. I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that's what they were going for, and it's the Starfire business -- which is overt misogyny -- is coloring everything.

 

I also didn't understand the shock people had about the ending. Hasn't it already been established, in multiple continuities, that Selina and Bruce have had sexy-sex time? This was a bit more graphic, but story-wise was no surprise at all, and it certainly raises a lot of questions about the new continuity (which Phillip helpfully posts above), and that's exactly what a first issue is supposed to do.

 

I also wondered at all the complaints about the depiction of "penetration" on the last page. Is THAT what's going on? Maybe it's my 53-year-old eyes, but I really couldn't tell where anyone's hips were, exactly, and with the cape and all, the exact state of nekkidness. But even if it is my aging eyes, that still argues that it's not as explicit as the outrage would have it -- I mean, it simply wasn't explicit enough for some readers (like me) to tell. Not that I care if the panel IS suggesting penetration, because that does tend to happen during sex, and again, it's not explicit enough to set off my porno alarm.

 

I do think comics have a problem attracting female readers, and I do think a lot of it is thoughtless pandering and a certain baseline misogyny. I don't mind if a lot of comics are written for the horny 15-year-old male teen, but not all of them should be, or even the majority.

 

I just don't think Catwoman #1 is the poster child for this problem. Maybe #2 will vomit forth more to convince me, but just looking at the first issue alone, it's not a lot different in tone from Brubaker's run on the title (which everyone, including me, seemed to love), and it's got a long way to go to be as exaggerated in the T&A dept. as Jim Balent's long run on the title, where every girl had large, perfectly round canteloupes stapled to her chest.

 

And if there is a female character anywhere in comics where it's justified for her sexuality to be up front and center, it ought to be Catwoman. News flash: The character sleeps around. She uses her looks and seductive abilities to get what she wants, and sometimes she does it just for fun. And, you know, it's frowned upon by society and the good guys and everybody's mom, but she does it anyway, with a middle finger proudly stuck in the air. That's who Catwoman is. Not every character should act like Catwoman, and maybe too many do. But Catwoman has been a seductress from the outset, and it's part -- a large part -- of her character. And is anyone arguing we can't have characters like Catwoman at all?


By the same token, Starfire is NOT a seductress, and has moral standards she will not cross -- she won't sleep with married men like Adam Strange and Animal Man, for example, with whom she spent months in space and remained perfectly chaste. And even if she had been established as a sleep-around, Red Hood & The Outlaws would still be just as vile for robbing a role model, a hero, a PERSON of her very identity. Had this been done to Catwoman I'd be just as outraged. They removed Starfire's very humanity and reduced her to a sex toy.

 

So the circumstances surrounding Catwoman seem entirely different to me. Am I missing something, or am I correct to suspect a little over-reaction?

I don't mind comics showing people having sex if the audience is aware of what they are getting into in advance.  The thing that creeped me out is that Selina is having anonymous sex for all intents and purposes. 

  • Does she know if Batman is married?  No.
  • Does she know if Batman is a priest in his non-bat time?  No.
  • Does she know if Batman is a gay/bisexual/ambidextrous/cellist/all of the above? No.

All that matters is she's there to service the batawang©.

She may be the POV character, but she's no less a sex toy for the MAN of the piece than Starfire.

Of course, it hasn't been established that Catwoman sleeps around, at least not yet. Though if it is, it makes her less Batman's plaything and more of her own woman. The feeling I got, and I may be reading it wrong, is that Selina will not let any man use her except for Batman. She clearly has strong feelings for him and wants to be with him. Is it love? Is it love yet? Batman does not offer her much except for brief (angry?) passion.

I read somewhere that a reformed Catwoman holds no interest for Batman. As long as she's on the "wrong" side, it feels right to him. Throughout their long history together, we've seen them as allies, partners and lovers. On Earth-Two, they were married. Now their relationship is complicated, if Batman would admit that they have a relationship!



Rich Lane said:

All that matters is she's there to service the batawang©.

She may be the POV character, but she's no less a sex toy for the MAN of the piece than Starfire.



I guess that's why I'm NOT creeped out, Rich, because I don't see that at all -- I see the reverse. SHE talks HIM into it, which the narration makes perfectly clear. It's not HIS idea, it's HERS. If anything, HE'S the sex toy.

As Catwoman is the sexual aggressor, I don't see how she's getting used to "service the Batwang." Seems to me he's being used to satisfy her -- for carnal reasons, or because she enjoys making "good" boys do "bad" things, or because she likes sex in costumes, or because she wants to neutralize a threat, or whatever. But she is no victim here.

I am not suggeting, as some defenders of Red Hood are, that women being available for whoever wants to have sex with them makes them "liberated" or something. But that isn't what's happening here. The choice is hers, and entirely hers.

Besides, we aren't talking about "women" in general. We're talking about one woman in specific. This is Catwoman, and by her very nature -- the characterization she's always had -- no one makes her do anything she doesn't want to do. And I think it's clear in this instance that this is something SHE wants to do, not what HE wants to do.

So that's why it didn't strike me as misogyny. If anything, it made Batman look a little pathetic.

I don't think it's sex per se that people are bothered by. It's the mixture of sex and violence that often happens in modern superhero comics.

 

From what I've read, some female readers are offended by the portrayal of Catwoman as a sexually aggressive babe (with an utterly perfect body) who "can't get enough." Isn't that a male sexual fantasy?

That's the point I was getting at.  An independent woman whose independence is displayed mainly by her willingness to have casual sex is really still playing at male fantasy fulfillment. 

George said:

From what I've read, some female readers are offended by the portrayal of Catwoman as a sexually aggressive babe (with an utterly perfect body) who "can't get enough." Isn't that a male sexual fantasy?



George said:

I don't think it's sex per se that people are bothered by. It's the mixture of sex and violence that often happens in modern superhero comics.

 

From what I've read, some female readers are offended by the portrayal of Catwoman as a sexually aggressive babe (with an utterly perfect body) who "can't get enough." Isn't that a male sexual fantasy?


The complaints I've seen haven't involved violence as an issue, so I can't address that. (And I don't have an issue with sex and violence in literature, since both occur in life and are sort of necessary for story conflict -- in fact, what disturbs me about our culture is too much outrage about the former and not enough about the latter.) As to the "can't get enough" thing: I saw nothing -- nothing -- to imply that. If people are saying it's there, it says more about them than it does about the book.
I thought the portrayal of Typhoid Mary, by Ann Nocenti and D.G. Chichester in "Daredevil," was a good deconstruction of the comic-book idea of an "assertive" woman. It showed what she would be like in real life: a psychologically damaged person who ends up in a strait jacket.

 

That's the point I was getting at.  An independent woman whose independence is displayed mainly by her willingness to have casual sex is really still playing at male fantasy fulfillment. 

George said:

From what I've read, some female readers are offended by the portrayal of Catwoman as a sexually aggressive babe (with an utterly perfect body) who "can't get enough." Isn't that a male sexual fantasy?


We crossed replies, Rich, but I agree with you: I find that argument -- "An independent woman whose independence is displayed mainly by her willingness to have casual sex" -- pretty loathesome. It's just rationalization for pandering to horny teens; women AND men have every right to be outraged by it.

And I am outraged by its application to the Starfire debacle.

But I'm not applying it in the Catwoman case. What I am saying is: This is Catwoman. Her very nature is to be fiercely independent, and not conform to what others think she should do. Not society, not the bluenose mothers of America, and not Batman. She does what she wants. If that involves sex, so be it. If that involves theft, so be it. If that involves scams, so be it. And what I saw in Catwoman #1 conforms to that. Her independence isn't contingent on her having casual sex; it's the other way around. Casual sex is in her repertoire, but it doesn't define her. And I would argue that the only sex she has in the book -- with Batman -- doesn't appear to be casual (she implies it is a regular occurrence).

"It's just rationalization for pandering to horny teens; women AND men have every right to be outraged by it."

 

Yeah, a lot of that goes on. Reminds me of the attempt to sell "The Playboy Club" as a TV show about "empowered women" (Bunnies). That's the sort of statement that makes men and women roll their eyes.

 

Obviously didn't work; the show was axed after 3 episodes.

Actually, Ricci  is in "Pan Am," the OTHER '60s period piece about "empowered women" (stewardesses in this case).  As far as I know, it's still on the air.
Rich Lane said:

I don't mind comics showing people having sex if the audience is aware of what they are getting into in advance.  The thing that creeped me out is that Selina is having anonymous sex for all intents and purposes. 

  • Does she know if Batman is married?  No.
  • Does she know if Batman is a priest in his non-bat time?  No.
  • Does she know if Batman is a gay/bisexual/ambidextrous/cellist/all of the above? No.

All that matters is she's there to service the batawang©.

She may be the POV character, but she's no less a sex toy for the MAN of the piece than Starfire.

 

I don't know about this: Isn't in in Catwoman's nature not to care if Batman is married? a priest in his non-bat time? gay/bisexual/ambidextrous/cellist/all of the above?

 

I'd make a case that she'd consider it a greater challenge and more rewarding for her if he was any of these things or any combination of these things or all of those things.

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