I still remember when the first “Catwoman” ongoing series began back in 1993. With Jim Balent as the main artist for the bulk of the series’ run, “Catwoman” was quickly known for its T&A poses and innuendos above all else. That’s in part why Ed Brubaker and Darwyn Cooke’s re-launch ten years ago was such a relief: sharp stories paired with a visual approach that had less to do with tight spandex or skin on display, but still kept an attractive sensibility.
Now “Catwoman” has her own solo series again, and while the Cooke-designed outfit has remained, it otherwise might as well be the Balent-drawn series. Actually, that’s not fair. Balent’s drawings never felt so exploitative. This is a comic where the first page has four panels, and in them we see Catwoman’s barely-covered breasts, more breasts, slightly less breasts, and then just bra and a hand. Page two gives us a chin and then a butt shot. Only on page three do we finally get a full look at Catwoman, but with her right breast (and bra) still hanging out of her unzipped outfit.
This doesn’t feel like a superhero (or supervillain, or anti-hero) comic. This feels like a soft core skin flick. In case you didn’t get enough of her (once more) large breasts, they make another appearance halfway through the comic, hanging out of a different bra with her shirt entirely unbuttoned. Meanwhile, three pages later, she’s swinging over a crowd in her Catwoman outfit in a pose that defies all human anatomy and makes her look misshapen. Guillem March can certainly draw non-sexual comics (I actually quite liked some art he did on “Batman” for Tony Daniel’s scripts) but you’d not guess it from here. All the attention is paid to those moments, with anything else getting short shrift.
Unfortunately, some of the blame also lands squarely on Judd Winick’s shoulders. The script feels remarkably lightweight; when the issue is over, stop and think about what actually happened and the answer is “remarkably little.” This feels more like dialogue being added on top of existing art rather than a full, heavy script. (It’s also a little hard to believe the same person who wrote “Batwing” #1 wrote this.) And as for the final four pages, when Winick decides to show us Batman and Catwoman getting physical?
Well, there are two problems with this. First, it means that Winick has given 20% of the entire first issue to a scene involving Batman and Catwoman getting down and dirty. That’s an awful lot of space for a single, gratuitous scene that feels designed solely to try and grab interest. But second, it feels like it’s stepped over a line in a way that wipes out all interest in the relationship. Batman and Catwoman flirting with one another? That can be sexy and fun, and there’s that forever hint of sexual tension that you can only guess on if it’s being fulfilled. Watching Batman give Catwoman a hickey on her neck right before she straddles him? Not sexy at all, and the mystery and teasing is thrown out the window.
“Catwoman” #1 is a disaster of a comic. Light script, uncomfortable-to-read-in-public-places art, and a destroying of the will-they/won’t-they atmosphere between Batman and Catwoman. This could have been fun. This was anything but.