Monday, May 1, 2000

Catwoman #80 - A Review

Written by Bronwyn Carlton
Pencils by Staz Johnson
As much as I hate to start my works with the words of another (something I’ve found only the pretentious do), I think it fitting to quote Dorothy Parker in regards to Catwoman #80.
“This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”

Let me state right here at the beginning; this comic is a definite miss. I wrote this column with two purposes in mind. First, to save you all from spending $2.00 that might well go to a much more worthy comic. And second, to ensure that the people involved in writing this comic never work for DC Comics again.
A bit harsh? My friend, I do not blame you for thinking so. I would have thought so too, before I’d read "Kitten in a Cage".
I bought this comic after hearing about it from a friend, who not only works in a comics shop and gets the previews a week in advance but it also one of the more dedicated Catwoman fans out there. She got my attention by declaring that she was not buying the book anymore, for the foreseeable future. After that, I knew I had to find out what happened to make her make such a strong declaration.
For those who haven’t been keeping up, this comic is the newest part in an arc where Catwoman tries to steal something, actually gets caught and is sent to prison. Or in this case, a special Women’s Correctional Facility right out of a WIP Movie (That’s Women In Prison, for you non-bad movie fans out there).
Let me ask you all: What is the first thing to come to mind why you hear the name Catwoman? Just think of the name… Cat plus Woman. Obviously, we are dealing with a woman who is very cat like; both in body and personality. Someone agile, cunning, graceful and fiercely independent. A dedicated Bat-fan would say you were right on the money. You could even ask a non-comic reader and they would probably come to that conclusion.
Explain to me then why, through the better part of this issue, hardened, experienced thief Selina Kyle spends the entire issue sobbing, crying and protesting her innocence rather than staying quiet, pretending to get with the program, learning how things work and then planning the fastest method of escape possible?
Bronwyn Carlton who spawned (I refuse to call this "writing") this story has apparently never read a Catwoman book…or indeed anything with Catwoman in it before. That is the only logical explanation I have for why Selina is acting like the Linda Blair character in Chained Heat (A classic WIP movie). In fact, the only reason I even bothered finished reading this was the hope that Warden Sybill Danning would show up and escort Selina to her office for some "harsh discipline".
On an ironic note, do you remember the many people who cheered DC’s dismissing penciler Jim Balent, who had done all of the first 77 issues of Catwoman with no breaks? Most of these people doing the cheering said that Balent’s work, which tends to exaggerate certain parts of the female anatomy to rather unrealistic proportions (even for a comic book) was sexist and degrading to women. I wonder what all those people will say about this issue…
This issue features a six-page long scene that involves Selina and several other inmates going into the shower, a fight breaking out and Selina being thrown into solitary confinement, totally stark naked. The whole scene is just pure T&A, lowering this comic yet another level. Still, Staz Johnson does deserve credit for one thing: I believe this is the first time in the history of the Comics Code Authority, that a CCA Stamp of Approval has been placed on a book featuring a five-page fight scene between a large number of women clothed in nothing but a thin layer of moisture. Hats off to Staz for his amazing creativity in keeping things decent!
No. This is not some elaborate April Fool’s Day joke…this whole book truly does read like a bad X-rated fanfic (with the lesbian scenes removed) or a Cinemax movie at one-in-the-morning. The only good thing I can think of to say about this book is that it took-up valuable paper that might otherwise have been used to print "Pat Buchanan For President" posters.

My vote: 1 out of 10

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