So, if you're anything like me, you were appalled by the recent potential revelation that Magneto may not be the father of the Maximoff twins. In Axis #7, we saw an "inverted" Wanda cast a spell, harnessing the chaos magicks once again, wherein she damned her bloodline. Magneto was not effected, thus making him not of her bloodline, not a relative. Supposedly.
But...hold on, look at that font in the speech bubbles. It's reminiscent of another character, one we've seen speak through the other half of the Maximoff twins....
This is Quicksilver under possession of Chthon, harnessing chaos in a fashion similar to Wanda. Chthon is a demonic elder god who is closely tied to the twins, having been present for their birth in the High Evolutionary's base on Mount Wundagore. We see their birth depicted in "Wundagore Nights", an Avengers arc from 1979. There's still at least one element of the birth we know to be true, Magda (Magneto's wife) did, in fact, mother the children no matter what....
Bova describes an phenomena that occurred at the birth of Wanda, she was apparently immersed in a mysterious energy that also appeared in the night sky above summit of Mount Wundagore. This was observed previously by the Whizzer, who claimed to be Wanda's father at one point given that he and his wife, Miss America (Madeline Joyce, not Chavez obviously), were present at Wundagore the very same night while she was with child and about to deliver. One thing worth noting- the High Evolutionary kept Wanda and Pietro in suspended animation for decades after which is why this story involves so many people from the early 20'th century. But, back to Whizzer, a clear sign he wasn't the father was his observation of Mount Wundagore....
So it's apparent that Whizzer was not, in fact, the father of those children because the event of their birth was already taking place when they arrived at Mount Wundagore. Bova described later that Miss America died during childbirth and that her child was stillborn so she merely gave Whizzer the Maximoff twins in the hopes that he would raise them. Too devastated by the loss of his wife, he left and never returned, believing that he had abandoned his own children in the process until his death. But, as it turns out, his wife may not have been so far off in her assumption that the light was "the devil's doing". Chthon's involvement in Wanda's birth would later be expanded upon....
Evidently, Chthon had a lot riding on Wanda, believing her to be the perfect vessel to his disembodied spirit. It's clear that his interference was first shown to take place after she was born rather than at conception. He isn't credited for Wanda's conception but it's noted that she has a "dual heritage" from then on, a marriage of "magic and science". Chthon expanded upon his connection to the Scarlet Witch in "Wundagore Nights"....
So, as it happens, Chthon had been manipulating Wanda without her knowing it for years, making her "science-rooted powers" weaker to make way for the sorcery that would eventually help to harbor him in her physical form. Against her will or even her awareness, she was always being manipulated by Chthon, since she was an infant, in order to become the perfect vessel for his power. Eventually, he got the chance to capitalize on all his hard work...
Of course he was thwarted by the Avengers and, once again disembodied, only to return through vessels. One of them being none other than Pietro....
So, my theory? Chthon has been shown to be capable of a few things 1) Possession (duh) 2) Manipulation of powers and, thus, manipulation of genetic coding possibly by way of magic. He can alter his hosts to suit his needs, take the template of a super-powered human being and tailor them to his specific needs. Since mutation is a matter of genetics and genetic coding, that would mean that he gradually can possibly alter the lineage of his hosts given that his magic changes their abilities. So does this mean Magneto is not their father? No. Scientifically, biologically Magneto remains their father but Wanda, in the practice of the chaos magicks and under possession at the time of the spell in Axis #7, was affecting her "magical" bloodline. Which works out well for Chthon, doesn't it? Because if Wanda and Pietro's parentage comes into question where will they go for answers? Mount Wundagore. And who happens to be tied to Mount Wundagore? Chthon. So this is a method of delivering Wanda to back to her mystical father, leaving her susceptible to possession, by forcing her to question the relation to her actual father.
BOOYA! The House of M remains intact and Marvel, once again, is just being provocative and attention-getting as usual and maybe piss off Fox while they're at it. Kinda worked, right? Betcha this all comes together around the time of Age of Ultron....
Mystique's grand entrance into the X-titles was this....
It was Mystique's first statement as the leader of the new Brotherhood, she presented herself as a crusader of mutant rights, not as a meddling mother or chief of a network of villains and criminals. That was the premise her character operated on for quite some time, she was very much like Magneto in that sense who, by contrast, is more consistently given complex morality and deeper motivations. Her assassination attempt on Senator Kelly (depicted above) was in response to Project Wideawake which was the first motion to enlist the aid of sentinels to track down and kill mutants. Of course, her methods are entirely unethical but there's an arguable case to be made for her motivation. Mystique truly believed that by killing Senator Kelly she would be saving the lives of millions mutants. This would inform most of her tactics for years to come like the assassination of her anti-mutant activist son Graydon Creed or her attempt at exploding the Bell Fourche Dam over a sentinel plant. Her killing of Moira McTaggert was collateral from a plan to create a human strain because Destiny's prophecies implied that she would be instrumental in saving the mutants from the Legacy Virus (which it did, albeit unintentionally and at a great cost).
In X-men: Days of Future Past (the movie), it's Bolivar Trask Mystique wants to kill as Senator Kelly was already depicted in the first X-men movie at a different time. But the complexity of her dissent into villainy was given an emotional and political brevity we really haven't seen in a very long time with the character of Mystique. This new, embittered Mystique seems to only be fixated on meddling with Rogue or pissing off the X-men or brutalizing Wolverine whereas the mutant cause was previously one that defined and laid out the groundwork for her role in the X-titles. It set into motion some very interesting storylines to see that Mystique, like Magneto or Xavier, considered herself an activist or crusader not as a 1 note villain and certainly not as a professor of villainy for the Hellfire Club like she is now. Palm, meet my good friend Face.
2. She's Not a Complete Monster
There's a part in the movie where Raven says "I have compassion….just not for Trask" which quite simply articulates Mystique’s sense of morality. The difference between Mystique and the X-men is that her reservations and sense of compassion stops where injustice starts. She doesn't view enemies as being encompassed by her sense of fairness and diplomacy, she sees them as threats that must be eliminated at all costs. Obviously that can go wrong like when Destiny had a vision of Ms. Marvel doing harm to Rogue, Mystique resolved to murder Ms. Marvel’s innocent boyfriend. Not very heroic or even justifiable but she had at least a somewhat vaguely understandable reason. Nowadays she’ll do something like murder an innocent woman in the middle-east while masquerading as Logan in order to turn a village against him and throw her off his trail. Not very consistent with Mystique, not very logical either seeing as how she doesn’t feel hesitation.
PS- While we’re on the subject of Mystique, how is it never acknowledged that Wolverine and Mystique previously had a rapport and mutual respect before Moira McTaggart’s death? If the events depicted in “Get Mystique” of their history of betrayal were true then why would he have trusted her in the years after?
3. She's Conflicted
The X-men titles are so distinguished and particularly broad to different readers because they’re a tad more mature and make an extra effort to be politically and socially relevant. A lot of characters such as Cyclops, Emma, Professor X, Rogue, and Magneto have been shown to have wrestled with their sense of morality in the fight for mutant rights. Their actions serve in the interest of a people and, as such, they are somewhat like politicians who will never have a 100% approval rating. Mystique should be no exception to this conflict of morality and she certainly wasn’t one in Days of Future Past. This was the basis on which Mystique’s relationship with the X-men developed as she had a profound obligation to both Rogue and Nightcrawler which often dissuaded her from viewing the as X-men entirely meaningless collateral.
For years, Mystique was in the Freedom Force which was a government-sanctioned team of mutants led by Val Cooper wherein she served as a condition of her pardon for past crimes. She also served with X-factor for quite some time under the same premise of doing good deeds while being on a presidential pardon Days of Future Past Mystique was similarly viewed as being someone who was worthy of the benefit of the doubt. There was something to be salvaged in Mystique that was evident in her misplaced sense of justice, a level of good intention that was sympathetic but with a reckless abandon that made her unpredictable.
4. She's Intelligent
One thing people forget about Mystique is that she’s freakin’ genius. Not a cartoon evil genius, a genius genius. She was able to infiltrate the pentagon on brains alone, she speaks 13 languages, and she’s an extremely resourceful and lightening-quick espionage agent and assassin. One thing I really appreciated about Mystique in Days of Future Past is that you got to see her speaking Vietnamese and French as well. And even before then, in X-men and X2, she was depicted as having been the only member of the group capable of operating the spillway mechanism in Stryker’s dam as well as being intelligent enough to fill Senator Kelly’s position for months and evade detection.
5. Somebody Apparently Read Into her History
It appears the screenwriter seems to have done a fair amount of research into Mystique’s character. The use of her genetic material to enhance the sentinel technology is very similar to an arc in Mystique’s wonderful solo series where she discovers a cosmetics company is using her genes to treat skin conditions and using mutants as test subjects. Her assassination plot against Trask is reminiscent of her plots against Senator Kelly and Graydon Creed with similar motivations. Her independence from Charles and Magneto is also something finally noted as she’s often depicted as being an accessory to one or at the complete mercy of another. These days, it’s more Sabretooth she’s an accessory to and Logan that she’s at the mercy of but she is still, nonetheless, she’s pretty much defined moreso by the people around her when, in actuality, she’s never been like that.
What can Marvel Do?
Well, Mystique’s got quite a tattered record right now. There’s the attempted purchase of Madripoor, the complete estrangement between Rogue and Nightcrawler, the betrayal of the X-men to save Rogue via Hope, the whole “Get Mystique” arc, the period of time she spent with Norman Osborn, the affair she had with Daken. There were brief periods wherein she was given a level of pathos like her saving of Wolverine in Nightcrawler’s honor after his death, her momentary and short-lived reunion with Nightcrawler but there’s no baseline of consistency in her character these days. She’s all over the place and often the subject of some extremely humiliating defeats like Wolverine killing her (and mortally stabbing her like A MILLION times after) as well as her bizarre interaction with Magneto that resulted in her being impaled once again. She’s gotten very silly, there’s no longer any humanity to her.
BUT there might be hope in an unlikely place. There was a “What If” series that depicted all of the Marvel universe heroes having gone down the worst path possible, resulting in complete and utter moral decay. It was called “Marvel Ruins” and Mystique’s brief appearance in it showed her dying on plane as a result of rapid shapeshifting, it’s explained that her constant shifts resulted in disassociative identity disorder and that she was supposed to have been taking medication to regulate her impulses. Now, I don’t know that there should be some psychiatric pharmaceuticals arc for Mystique but could it be possible that her “ever changing gray matter” that Charles describes as a natural defense against telepathy might be a good explanation for her inconsistent characterization. Maybe there could be some telepathic resolution to this if Mystique is somehow incapacitated to hamper her telepathic defenses and telepathically re-organized into stability? Food for thought.
So I was watching the X-men movies over again in anticipation of the "Days of Future Past" movie and I inevitably reached X3: Last Stand. I always felt Famke Janssen did just a wonderful job as Jean, she's always given it her all and taken the role very seriously. Sometimes actors get a superhero flick as built-in fitness regimen or as koosh job but Famke is one of the exceptional few who brought an emotional narrative with her acting to the character that was based in realism. Little else in this film is as intriguing, from Psylocke being a 2-liner character that was easily dispatched to Cyclops get offed within the first few minutes to "I'm the Juggernaut, BITCH!". But what really got to me was this....
It felt too cliche, actually it is too cliche because this happens so often. It's used a pathos-mileage for the male lead to a point where the woman is a canonized, beautiful angel of tragedy for years afterwards and serves his emotional development more than her own. Ever since Gwen Stacy everyone has tried to find a new slant on killing the girl in an interesting way to a point where it's more the norm than it is an exciting, unexpected, edgy exception. It's become almost as pervasive as the kidnapped wife/daughter plotline for every action movie ever made, it's expected, it's trite now, it's totally derivative. But what gets to me is that through Jean there's this typified notion that it's somehow different if the woman is superpowered. It's somehow different if a woman is ultimately helpless if she has occasional bursts of strength. But the period at the end of the sentence is always the same, the woman cannot handle immense power and must be offed or incapacitated with ease. In Jean's case, it's been so often it almost seems to be parodying itself.
I also have a hard time understanding how other characters like the Silver Surfer or Nova or Thor or Loki or Thanos have to be killed or hurt in these outrageous, elaborate ways because they are basically (or literally) gods. But with Jean she's so softened by her love for Wolverine that it bypasses the planet-killing Phoenix and enables him to kill her quite easily, too easily. I happen to really love Jean, I've found her character to be very interesting independent of the Phoenix, I've seen her written fantastically well too but the main event always seems to be her death which is kind of twisted and seems to raise the ire of fans who aren't as familiar with Jean and think her character only dies over and over again. There are also many incidences of Jean being massively weakened in between bouts with the Phoenix that hamper her character significantly.
It seems as though this another trend with massively powerful female characters, they seemingly have to have incredible deficits physically. Jean has been a victim of this and the equally powerful Scarlet Witch (my personal favorite heroine) has shown little in the ways of basic self-defense after the House of M. I happen to like Uncanny X-men but gee wiz, the Scarlet Witch doesn't even put up fight and during Avengers vs. X-men she's taken out by a Hope Summers for comedic effect.
It doesn't bother me that Wanda gets punched or stabbed so much as it bothers me how easily it happens, how unable she is to defend herself. She's a woman in her late 20's or early 30's who has voluntarily entered into a dangerous, violent profession since she was a teenager. She was first trained by one of the deadliest men in the world, Magneto, so she could aide him in what was basically guerilla warfare and then she went on to train with Captain America who is vet entirely dependent of physicality. I find it hard to believe she wouldn't be an effective physical combatant and with all the power loss storylines and methods of neutralization of powers we've seen, it should be a priority for one such as Wanda. Hell, all the times she's been brutally beaten would be incentive enough, is it not traumatic?
Speaking of Wanda, there was a time where any time she used her powers she would rapidly tire. And I don't mean she'd just be weakened, she'd get so depleted she'd pass out which is another accompaniment to massive power for Marvel women. For Sue Storm, it comes in the form of many, many nosebleeds which was especially apparent in the Fantastic Four movies. Contorting oneself or lighting oneself on fire and shooting flames never seemed to wear out Reed or Johnny.
Now nose bleeding isn't entirely uncommon with characters with mental powers across the board but in looking at this site I found that the incidences of men showing the same sort of tire or strain were much rarer. Emma, a master omega telepath, had 11 entries mostly wherein she's a victim of psychic assault whose challenged so much mentally her nose bleeds. Also, I noticed a real difference in the depiction of strain and exhaustion when using powers.
I understand there is the "kryptonite defense" which is that basically everyone should have some weaknesses and I can cosign on that. It's just that the powerful women I see have such incredible, outrageous weaknesses it can be ridiculous how they're so easily beaten, depleted, and dispensed of. Thor is a god, Iron Man's suit has an outrageous number of defenses suspiciously condensed within it, Wolverine dies all the time, and Hulk can start World War Hulk wherein he apparently beats just about everybody up. Nobody's auditing an excess of power there, maybe they even should. And, by the way, a lot of the predominantly physical male characters have telepathic immunity (Wolverine, Hulk) and a lot of them have the ability to shoot projectiles and are still formidable with melee (Gambit, Cyclops) so it isn't as though Jean, Wanda, or Sue shouldn't be able to compensate and defend themselves as well.
I do like to give people the benefit of the doubt in the sense that I don't think this is a chauvinist, sexist conspiracy. I think some thing become habit and comics are very old, these characters are very old but maybe it's time we start innovating them so they aren't infested with any pesky, silly tropes. By the way, I happen to think there are some women who don't fall prey to this like Psylocke or Monet but they are often not of the caliber of power or as prolific as these women are, Jean, Wanda, and Sue are among the first and most iconic Marvel women. There are female characters who are of that caliber like Storm have only just recently come back into the fold and less acknowledged as leaders where some, like Rogue, have been reduced in power. Anyways, maybe we ought to look at things like this as an opportunity to improve upon characters we love, I love Jean, I love Sue, I love Emma, and I certainly love Wanda so it's a matter of seeing them reach their potential and not be dismissed rather than inciting controversy.
I have to preface this by saying explicitly that I’m fully aware Mystique is not at all a shrinking violet in any shade of her many “shifts” both literal and figurative. Similarly to how I feel about Helena Bertinelli, one of the things I happen to love about her character is her unbridled aggression. Mystique always take things to the limit and I’ve often felt that her modus operandi is that of a crusader who considers anyone who attempts to curtail her overall mission to be fair game.
But as of late, I’ve just felt as though the Mystique torture has gotten gratuitous and some essential parts of her character have lost in melodramatic vertigo. These days, Mystique gets bored and a little angry then a massacre occurs, she plays dirty, says something scummy, and gets gutted for the 90 millionth time by Wolverine. At this point, she’s been stalked and hunted down by Wolverine, sliced within an inch of her life completely naked and been left for dead. Then she came back, she saved Wolverine from hell (though she initially played a part in sending him there) as a favor to her deceased son Nightcrawler but still got gutted by Wolvie while he was possessed. Then she tried yet again to save Wolverine from the Red Right Hand and was viciously gunned down by Lord Deathstrike then carved up and killed by Wolverine to boot (only to come back).
Honestly, it's kind of creepy. It's almost as though Mystique is constantly being depicted as some sort of misogynist nightmare, particularly during the whole "Get Mystique" arc. The art teetered dangerously close to looking somewhat like sexual violence especially when Mystique massages herself to shift into nudity for Wolverine, they tackle (and straddle) each other, it ends with her on her knees and him holding a gun over her head....need I tug the already paper-thin veil on the imagery this evokes?
Then there's the issue of her being singled out whereas other villains like Magneto, who've killed and betrayed just as much, are at least negotiated with somewhat…even celebrated (in Scott’s case at least).
In the past 10 years or so, this has been Mystique’s cycle of torment with a few dashes of fights with Rogue thrown in here and there as well. What confuses me is that Mystique’s most vicious acts were previously carried out rather as an agent of fate than just an angry, violent seductress with impulse issues. She killed Ms. Marvel’s boyfriend after one of Destiny’s prophecies predicted Ms. Marvel would do serious harm to her. Cold? Brutal? Yes and yes. But there was a motive at the very least, a semi or quasi (or deca) understandable motive with a terrible collateral.
Even in killing Moira there was an ultimate benefit which was the cure to the legacy virus, something Destiny predicted years ago. Mystique exploding the labs at Muir Island and creating a human strain of the virus ended up giving Moira the answer she sought. This role Mystique had as someone who doles out the world’s evils to contribute to a greater good gave her an interesting dilemma. What if someone knew the outcome of their actions, no matter how vicious and cruel, would ultimately contribute to a greater purpose? In a way, Mystique hasn’t any other choice but to be the villain, the most heroic thing she can do is to be a menace. I love that, it’s fascinating. Why oh why has that never been capitalized on? It's brilliant! Is anything Mystique does of this nature fully justifiable? No but it's interesting that she would view it as serving her fate and have an arguably valid reason for believing in that.
But of course, shortly after her Legacy Virus saga, Mystique slit Banshee’s throat and killed Sunpyre as well as launched attacks on Paris of all places, all rather arbitrarily without a definite explanation as to why...ever. I'm sensing some characterization issues from writer to writer, it seems as though people have a lot of difficulty orientating Mystique's character on stable ground. Her episode with Banshee was never explained and then she would go on to get one last glimmer of purpose in her solo series.
If you hadn't read her solo series, you must. If you've read this far, if you're this interested then it's worth it because this is one of the best solos I've ever read. I think it was the last time I'd ever seen Mystique informed by her character's history in a way that gave her dimension. It pointed out that, in spite of her villainous tendencies, Mystique is an intelligent, resourceful, strong-willed person who fought her way to the top and has a complex vision of what the world is and what she hopes (or demands, rather) it should be.
The series touched on Mystique’s almost kaleidoscopic identity, she’s never solely the villain or the hero but instead a mixture of both with many layers that intersect. There wasn’t too much drama with Rogue nor was there any unexplained resentments carried it out with vicious impulsiveness. She made plans, she made her motives clear, and at points she even exercised restraint and showed compassion. Finally, we have some sense as to why she hates Xavier and what her vulnerabilities are as well as why she has so many defense mechanisms and not in a psychoanalytic way but in a way that gave her character credibility.
As deplorable as her behavior can be, there is some semblance of sense to it and there's nothing more compelling to me than a villain who can make a case for themselves. At this point, she's been handled carelessly to a point where she's almost pathetic in her attempts to settle scores with Wolverine seeing as how she's brutally foiled again and again. It's all about melodrama for her these days whereas previously Mystique had always led a life of purpose. We're talking about a woman who infiltrated the Pentagon at one point using only her intellect, not seduction nor by blowing a hole through the wall. She's a woman who cleverly arranged a presidential pardon for her crimes in exchange for a government-funded task force of mutants called the Freedom Force. To me, that brought yet another interesting perspective to mutant politics that both Xavier and Magneto hadn't yet covered.
I envision Mystique taking on a role which isn't that of the overbearing mother or Wolverine's personal scratching post but instead one that's more political, a leadership position or at least something with more complicated agenda. Moreover, I think it's due time to see her behave in more humanly way and I do believe there's plenty to substantiate some softer, more sympathetic aspects of Mystique's character. She raised Rogue, she was deeply beloved by Destiny who seldom (if ever) showed even a hint of malice, surely she isn't a 100% "bad" person. As far as I'm concerned, she doesn't really fit the bill for your clinically-diagnosed sociopath and what's funny is that often times she's depicted as being reformed in alternate universes. In Age of X, she tended to the mutant children, she wasn't totally evil in "Age of Apocalypse" (maybe a little selfish), and in the "X-men: The End" series she ends up taking care of Rogue's children after Rogue is killed.
My ultimate point overall is that I don't see Mystique living up to the standards writer's once had set for her, standards that are the basis for her character's continual success and survival throughout different generations and many different incarnations. One of the things that largely distinguished the X-men from almost any other Marvel title (or comics as a whole) is that their characters are very versatile, they have much more fluid yet intricately-planned arcs that make them fully-realized and extremely fascinating characters. Mystique is a perfect example of this, like many characters her morality fluctuates but there's a consistent baseline that maintains her. Think about Magneto or the Scarlet Witch or Pietro or Rogue or Professor X, they've all made bad decisions for different reasons but came out much stronger through ambiguity and their convictions rather than playing up to a role.
Though there's still time for it to get screwed up but Mystique has showed some semblance of regret/introspection in Uncanny X-men lately. I just hope that one of these days a writer will see a little bit more complexity and moral ambiguity in her character because it really is the foundation everything since the beginning has rested upon. I suppose only time will tell...
Everyone knows who Catwoman is. I would even go so far as to say she's among the upper 5% of comicbook characters people can identify because she's had so many incarnations. If you're in your late teens or early 20's now you've probably seen Batman Returns and if you were alive for it I imagine you could recall how heavily it was promoted. Then there was the animated series, the second animated series, and the 3rd after Batman Begins came out along with the 60's Batman TV show which gained a new vitality in rerun heaven during the early 90's. That's several Catwoman renderings within a generation which doesn't even encompass the comics of which Catwoman has been prominent in for quite a while now. Though people like to assert women can't carry a title, it isn't at all true for Catwoman. She's had 3 whole volumes of comics within the past 20 years that enjoyed long, successful runs as well as countless figures and other merchandise.
Think about Halloween or, rather, Halloween parties over the years. How many times have you seen a woman dressed up as Catwoman? Almost every year you see at least one or two in your social sphere and beyond that there must be millions more because every year there is a whole catalog of options for Catwoman costumes practically. What this says to me is that women appear to heavily identify with Catwoman as an icon throughout varying degrees of awareness when it comes to the comics themselves. Devotees to comics only account for a fraction of the audiences that go out an see movies, it's get people outside the "cult" appeal that's crucial. Women hadn't been seeing superhero films for a while now but the Avengers welcomed in a much bigger female audience than initially expected and ended up being one of the highest grossing movies (and definitely the highest grossing superhero movie) as result.
This somewhat ties into my last point, think of how many different kinds of merchandise there is devoted to Catwoman out there. I've seen Catwoman binders, Catwoman notebooks, they had Catwoman shoes at one point, costumes (like I mentioned), I've even bought 4 different Catwoman figures within the past 3 years and I'm not a regular action figure consumer by any means. Catwoman's comic series is usually in the top 50-70 when it comes sales and appears to only grow rickety when the writing gets iffy. Catwoman was even given a significant role in the Arkham City game which is not the most accommodating platform for women in general.
The point I'm trying to make is that Catwoman is always being put out there again and again and again, this would not be happening were it not for the excitement her character is able to generate. It comes to a point where people are willing to shell out money to play as her in videogame, BE her for Halloween or a convention, buy her figures, buy a multitude of things with her likeness on it.
Anne Hathaway Is Awesome
While I know there are grumpy detractors, the overall impression after the release of Dark Knight Rises was that Anne Hathaway's performance was exceptional if not amazingly fantastic. In spite of tiresome questions of plot or whether or not it was as good as The Dark Knight, Anne Hathaway's performance fared extremely well and I was alarmed at the enthusiasm people had for it whom I've spoken with since. And from here it looks as though things will only get better for Anne Hathaway in terms of her broader appeal with Les Miserables just around the corner. Warner Bros also put in a submission for Anne Hathaway as best lead actress for the Oscars as well which I can't imagine will get through to a nomination but is an endorsement and vote of confidence nonetheless.
It Doesn't Have To Be A Sequel
Whenever the subject of a Catwoman movie comes up people say "But what's the point? Christian Bale won't do it" which could be very true. But I personally don't imagine there needs to be a sequel to the Dark Knight Rises for a Catwoman movie to happen, I actually wouldn't like it if that were to happen. I would like to see a prequel myself and in that case there wouldn't be any need for Bruce Wayne to be involved. Of course I imagine something of a smaller scale than the Batman films but then again, Catwoman doesn't really need very much CGI and doesn't really use a much technology as Bats so the budget could be considerably more conservative and still churn out a great product.
Another factor that always comes into play is Christopher Nolan and his involvement. Well, first of all, he was the one who coyly suggested that he hoped Hathaway's performance would "leave people wanting more" and, second of all, he has participated in projects like Superman as a consulting producer so simply because he wouldn't direct it doesn't mean he wouldn't want to have input. Furthermore, Anne Hathaway suggested she would do something if it remained in Nolan's "world" of Batman which didn't necessarily exclude the possibility, I think she was just trying to say she wouldn't want to go off on a tangent and have another goofy Catwoman movie. Not to mention, Jonathan Nolan did recently disclose he has a few DC investments in the pipeline....
Halle Berry Ain't Got Nothin' On It
Speaking of that other Catwoman movie, I've heard some say that if the Halle Berry movie didn't work then why would an Anne Hathaway movie work? Well, firstly, it preceded the Batman Begins and came out at a time when the superhero movie had yet to be more clearly defined. Spiderman had only just come out, same with the X-men movies and Batman was certainly not even on the radar given the Joel Schumacher debacle. But even more so, the liberties taken with the character along with it's questionable production value was the ultimate failing of the movie not Catwoman. To me, that's a very limited perspective to take, why should a studio's extremely poor decision-making result in the damnation of Catwoman?
It Has A Spectacular Lead In
In spite of however you might feel about the Nolan Batman films, they do have a level of credibility. Even looking past their financial appeal, Heath Ledger ended up winning an Oscar for his portrayal of the Joker which suggests to me that Batman definitely broke down many barriers when it came to what a superhero movie could be. Joss Whedon even said that Nolan and Raimi invented the superhero movie and that, despite The Dark Knight Rises' competition with the Avengers, he would gladly see it anyways. The support for Nolan and his re-imagining of the Batman series has been met with extraordinary success. And all you kool-aid drinkers looking for the next reboot can chill, it'll happen eventually. You can get ya excessive gadgets, boy wonder, and 3D/CGI when Warner Brothers pushes "The Batman" into production in 2016 or whatever.
Regardless, I would say the Nolan trilogy is a huge boost to the appeal of a Catwoman movie. The Catwoman we saw was not like Halle Berry's and this sort of spin-off would be nothing like Elektra (which sprung from a panned movie anyways), it has a draw that could be very effectively capitalized upon if done correctly. The acclaim Anne Hathaway's performance received and the continued interest Catwoman has garnered over the years is enough to substantiate a decent if not good or amazing movie.
First, she was a teen with telekinesis in "Birds of Prey", then she was the mother of that teen who was quickly dispatched within one episode, then she was conservative radio talk show host on "Smallville", and now she's a lawyer with a Captain Stacy-esque and disapproving father and damsel-like tendencies. As far as I'm concerned, none of these incarnations even sightly resemble the Dinah Laurel Lance we know and love which has me simply asking......
What is so deficient about her that causes writers to tweak her in peculiar and ineffective ways? The Black Canary is a hugely successful character, though not on par with Wonder Woman or Catwoman, she is a constant fixture in the DC Universe with a sizable following. People particularly warmed up to the Black Canary and Green Arrow as a couple which almost never involved Green Arrow saving her from danger but rather out of a mutual respect and admiration for one another. Hell, "Birds of Prey" (the comic series, not the show) was largely successful and very much centered around the Black Canary, Gail Simone had even resorted to bringing her back when the attempt to distance her from the series failed.
Without her canary cry or at least her combat skills....this "Laurel" Lance (another arbitrary alteration) is basically Rachel Dawes without the belivability. Katie Cassidy is really, seriously not convincing as a lawyer and it's also really hard to see her flailing her arms and fleeing from danger when the real Dinah could easily thrash just about any thug. As a matter in fact, she did thrash a thug recently then reverted back to helplessness within the next episode.
My advice to the producers - Read "Birds of Prey", sign Katie Cassidy up for some judo classes or something.
4) More villain screentime
Arrow has been accused of "borrowing" from Nolan's Batman a lot and while I don't particularly find that to be a charming trait of the show, I feel like if you're going to swipe anything from the Batman franchises then it should be the compelling rogues gallery. Let's get some character actors in here, some recurring villains, no more villains of the week whom we'll never see again.
If Deadshot's going to come into the fold, let's make him relevant to Arrow's story in some way so that he brings out interesting aspects of Arrow's struggle. They almost struck gold when Deadshot implied Arrow was a killer but then, SPOILERZ, he's got an arrow in his brain pan a fraction of a second later. I don't know which is the sadder casualty- the death of Deadshot or the death of a potentially fascinating inner moral conflict within Oliver? Let's not forget, Deadshot made a GREAT point. Oliver's killed like 25 security guards alone by this point! This is why we need villains. They confront the flaws of our heroes without reserve and ultimately strengthen the integrity of their character.
3) No more anecdotal monologues or over-illustrated points that solve all emotional problems instantly
Listen, in real life, we're all huge pains in the asses when it comes to our emotional issues. How often do people effectively communicate and find the right words to deal with an emotional between intimates or family members? Next to never! When it isn't us and we're seeing dynamics played out on TV there is some leniency in that regard being time is of the essence and other storylines are going on simultaneously. BUT Arrow is somewhat out of control in this regard, I wonder why they can't let more things just stew.
Speedy is a junkie for a few episodes but her mother manifests the perfect analogy to her situation by bringing up a story about a stray cat that involves her dead father. Voila. Mommy and daughter reach a new understanding. Speedy doesn't like the way Oliver is acting so she takes him on a field trip to his own grave to help articulate the point that she felt closer to him in death than life. Now everything is perfectly okay between the two of them.
People don't act this way, as a matter in fact, people so totally don't act this way that it makes the emotional dynamics significantly weaker as a result. You can say "This is an action show" or "This is for men, none of that soap opera crap" or whatever to rationalize poorly conceived and one-dimensional relationships in this series but I think Arrow can do better. Why can't it be action-packed and emotionally informed?
This isn't 7'th Heaven, we don't need a clearly defined moral at the end of every story.
PS- 3.5 Please, no more voiceover filibustering about justice or injustice. We get it.
2) Less Super Sexy, Hot, Steamy, Model Sidecharacters
The hot IT girl, Laurel's hot friend at work, Laurel's hot father (played by an actor who's only 43), the bodyguard's hot galpal....yes, TV is a place of pretty people but if it's noticeable to the point of absolute ridiculousness on a TV SHOW then you know you're really pushing it. It's just goofy. I'm not saying there shouldn't be any pretty people or that there's anything wrong with being pretty, it just gives the show a distractingly synthetic vibe that doesn't do any favors for it's alleged "grittiness". I'm uncomfortably attracted to Laurel's father and this IT chick looks like a Playboy bunny infiltrating a major corporation by pretending to be an IT chick using a naughty librarian porno as a reference.
Come on, people, this doesn't reflect even an approximate reality and this show isn't so extravagant it can get away with it. Let's see real people. There's enough sexpots on the cast, they aren't hurting for sex appeal over at Arrow so let's dial it back a little.
1) Better Acting
This sounds condescending to say but I do actually mean to say it with compassion- Most of these kids are in over their heads and I'm starting to feel bad for them. I don't hate anyone on the cast actually, in a strange way, I'm almost rooting for them in spite of my cringing through their performances. Stephen Amell is so cute and sincerely trying but he's just not hitting the mark, it's like watching a golden retriever try to be a jackal. Katie Cassidy is even kind of likeable but there's no sass to her performance, no palpable assertiveness. I think Willa Holland could be great but her faux rebelliousness is more soap operatic than it is endearing.
Here's what I would suggest as far as the leads are concerned.....
- Stephen Amell needs a character actor as a villain, a classic stage actor, something and anything he can work off of and he also would largely benefit from a romantic interest of a similar caliber. Think George Lazenby and Diana Rigg in the Bond film "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" - a struggling actor paired with a thespian or acclaimed actor. George Lazenby got terrible reviews but he had A) less time to prove himself and B) a lot to live up to but in through a retrospective lens it is one of the best Bond films. Why? Diana Rigg compensated for Lazenby as Bond and the romance became the focus. Actors learn from other actors! Just look at David Boreanaz, he started off as kinda iffy on Buffy but by season 3 Joss Whedon felt he was capable of carrying his own show when he saw how much his scenes with Sarah Michelle Gellar strengthened his acting skills.
- Katie Cassidy or Laurel Lance, rather needs to get out of law and go straight to superheroics. Granted, there has to be a transition but with her I could see a much more fruitful path taking up a Lynda Carter-type role as Black Canary. Lynda Carter? Not the best actress. But when she put on the Wonder Woman suit it seemed as though it were easier for her to feel the character and play the role with more sincerity. Katie Cassidy needs that, she needs something to work with.
When I heard Ann Nocenti was taking over Catwoman I was somewhat impartial but also somewhat hopeful. I wasn't familiar with her work overall but what I was familiar with was Typhoid Mary whom I happen to like and I also happened to like her mini-series "Typhoid"...for the most part. The only thing that aggravated me were her not-so-subtle digs at Quentin Tarantino...
When you're writing a story about a semi-misandrist, sometimes-prostitute dominatrix who slices her opponents to ribbons with katanas are you really in a position to take at dig at Quentin Tarantino's penchant for exploitation? And Quince Taranova? Boy oh boy!
But I did shell out the cash for the digital comic version of Catwoman #0 for my Android so obviously I was at least willing to give her a shot in spite of our differences of opinions. Now, if you've already read Babs' review of Catwoman #0 (which you should if you haven't) it very pointedly remarks on Nocenti's "borrowing" of the Batman Returns origin for Selina Kyle and how it came off moreso as unoriginal. Seconded! She gets thrown off building, revived by cats, is a secretary...I LOVED the movie but I own the video casette and the DVD and have every line memorized by this point.
Tim Burton's vision for Catwoman works in Tim Burton's world but in mainstream continuity? Eh, it doesn't have the stylistic emphasis of Burton to back it up. I also feel like it's somewhat of an F-You to the current major motion picture version of Catwoman portrayed by Anne Hathaway. Either way, the movies shouldn't effect the original product too much as far as I'm concerned but if you're going down that avenue then why borrow from something 20 years old that everyone has seen? So there's Grievance Number 1: Lack of originality.
Grievance Number 2? This is a serious question, you'll have to bypass anything your common sense might tell you about a woman who dresses like a cat and think about it in terms of comicbook believability. Why can't people take Catwoman seriously as a master thief? Most of us have stolen, some of us have shoplifted, but does anyone have any idea how hard it is to pull off a heist or a successful and intricate robbery? I would imagine it's very complicated, I've researched it and a lot of the world's best cat burglars are extremely intelligent, intuitive, and complex. Yet the way Catwoman steals, you'd think she was picking up laundry. After a date gone awry, this happens in Catwoman #0...
"That date sucked, I think I'll just slink through an open window a few stories up in this apartment complex and see if anyone left their jewelry box open while still stuffed with expensive diamonds and pearls"
This was the same issue I had with Frank Miller's Catwoman, you'd think she was just a bored and impulsive kleptomaniac. She's being treated with kid gloves, the theme with Catwoman is almost that she steals mainly because she's emotional and damaged, not because she's talented or smart or clever. Yes, there are some emotional reasons for why someone would want to steal but it doesn't make her better at executing thefts.
Why don't we ever get to see how Catwoman steals? And, especially in this issue, how she learned? And I don't mean doing flips over laser beams or wearing a wig to a party and seducing a security guard to get clearance to a cache of bounty. I would imagine Selina learned small things like how to pick a lock or remove magnetic strips from clothing in department stores then learned about security systems and so on and so forth. That, to me, would be fascinating to explore. We've seen Catwoman steal a million jewels through bedroom windows but is it always really that simple?
Also why can't we see how she learned to fight? Or what makes her want to steal so badly? There's somewhat of an explanation as to how she learned but not sufficient as far as I'm concerned....
So Miss Oliver is a woman who runs a group home makes the kids staying with her swipe things for her own benefit. This was the one thing Nocenti did right! Brubaker's Catwoman origin story was flawless and a character in that was a woman named Mama Fortuna who ran a gang of child thieves Selina was apart of. Personally, I think Mama Fortuna was a better name than "Miss Oliver" but that's a matter of taste. Speaking of Brubaker, I haven't missed him more than I do now!
Which leads me to Grievance Number 3! So many people still don't know about Catwoman's origins Pre-52. She's been a prostitute, a flight attendant, a dominatrix - it's all very confusing to anyone reading Catwoman for the first time and none of those origins were air-tight. When Brubaker finally got a hold of her, he did a fantastic job of keeping what worked and disregarding what didn't. Nocenti alluded to Selina being of possibly Russian origins which would ultimately mean her name is not in fact Selina Kyle and that someone cooked up a plot to put her in the mayors office by inventing a fake state program to help homeless teens by employing them in the mayor's office. So...uh...yeah. : / Selina pre-52 had a great origin story, it drives me nuts it would even be an option to revise it so thoroughly. It actually made sense.
Here's a little history lesson in case you don't know it.....
Selina grew up with an alcoholic father and distant mother who preferred the company of her cats. One day her mother, who is somewhat of an invalid, becomes so depressed she kills herself and leaves Selina and her sister Magdalene without a mother. Her father can't stand the sight of Selina as her resemblance to Maria is a constant reminder of her, he drinks himself to the grave and Selina and Magdalene are then orphaned as a result.
Separated by the system, Selina ends up away from Maggie in juvenile hall for bad behavior. The person running the juvenile hall turns out to be an embezzler, Selina comes to discover this and is almost killed as result. She survives having been stuffed into a bag and thrown into a river then manages to blackmail the administrator into erasing her identity from public record and bags a necklace of her's for good measure. Selina encounters Mama Fortuna, whom I previously mentioned, masquerades as a child prostitute to steal money then becomes a thief.
For me, that actually worked. It informed who Selina is and why she became Catwoman. The cat motif comes from her mother and always having wanted her mother's approval and to be like her mother. Selina's relationship with men and her issues with Batman's authoritative nature towards Selina all roots back to her relationship with her father. And throughout, we see Selina being a survivor who relies on resourcefulness, strength, intellect, and charm to become the cunning cat burglar she is today.
Now we're in the throws of something more convoluted and messy than necessary at all, I'm almost offended because it would appear as though the editors went in with an attitude that Catwoman didn't have a sufficient enough origin story so they had to spice it up. Why change Selina from having a sister to having a brother? Why go down the cliche parentage route that will inevitably result in a contrived conflict of identity that would already be there in the first place? And how can you screw with a name like Selina Kyle?! It's a beautiful name!
As many of you know, Helena Wayne recently bid adieu to her "alias" Helena Bertinelli. And in case you didn't know, here's how it went down....
To me, this is an absolute tragedy and, in a sense, a travesty as well considering how cavalierly she's treated. "She served me well", "I only borrowed her", and "Shame to waste an interesting life" all were lines that dug pretty deeply into any Helena Bertinelli fan. I believe the implication behind what Wayne is saying is that she took her own life seeing as how the only person who could effectively "waste" a life would be the person in possession of it. Regardless, us Bertinelli fans were both deceived and blindsided by this development as it looked as though with Huntress solo series DC was re-realizing the versatility and potential of Bertinelli. No such luck. To be fair, Wayne did come before Bertinelli but that's just about where all the fairness ends as far as I'm concerned.
Here's my main gripe: I just don't really think if it were to come down to Bertinelli vs Wayne (as far as character is concerned) there would be any good argument for choosing Wayne over Bertinelli. It's not that I hate Wayne per se, I just don't know how you could throw away Helena Bertinelli in favor of her. The line about wasting an interesting life is both an understatement and perhaps the truest thing a comic book character could say in unintentionally breaking the fourth wall. Bertinelli had a fascinating life if you ask me.
First, there's her origin story. There are more orphans in the superhero line of work than there are in the cast of Oliver Twist. It's quite generic for superheroes to be motivated or at least semi-motivated by the death of a parent to fight injustice. This is, in a sense, how Helena gets started as well. However, what sets Helena Bertinelli apart is this...
Often times a hero or protagonist will have an "innocence lost" arc which becomes a formative point in their journey towards becoming hero. Not so for Helena! She was never actually given a chance at innocence, having to witness her father beat her mother routinely in between shady dealings with the mafioso. Unlike her peers, Helena wanted her father to die, I've never really seen this before in an origin story ever. The next panels after the above depict her entire family getting gunned down. This can only mean further angst, Helena expresses her wishes that her father would perish and within minutes it is done but with uhm...excessive results given her mother and brother also die. This explains her religiosity later on given that this must've stirred up a fair amount of guilt in poor Helena. Nonetheless, this moment alone is reason enough for why Helena was not your average heroine. It's a compelling spin on what could've easily been a generic, tired superhero cliche.
But the childhood trauma doesn't stop there! Helena later discovers her surviving that incident was an accident and not only was her survival an accident but she herself was an "accident" according to her biological father. Santo Cassamento was from a rival mafia family which ended up really complicating that whole extramarital affair he was having with Helena's mother, Maria. Santo explains this in "A Cry For Blood"....
Just when you thought it couldn't get more painful, it's exponentially more devastating. As it turns out, her scumbag father was not really her father but instead another scumbag who was responsible for her whole family's demise and really resents her being alive to tell the tale. It's unimaginably tragic and it really gives you insight into the rage that motivates Helena. She's not a monster or a malcontent or simply just hothead but a person who's never known any kind of tenderness. Her whole life has been at the mercy of violence and chaos and her only solution to the torment of it's influence is to fight fire with fire...and boy does she ever....
This is another thing I love about Helena, she's often more of a vigilante. She's not against using guns, bats, and anything else to get her point across which isn't something you'll often see in female comicbook characters. Mystique had a great stint as an anti-hero in her solo series but of course she just had to turn back to villainy. Wolverine or Deadpool or Jason Todd can walk the line but for whatever reason it's much harder for women. You either have to be loveable or damnable. Speaking of damnation and anti-heroics, one defining moment for Helena that I was very fond of was when she "silenced" Santo for good via her uncle Tomaso. Her love interest at the time, the Question, wasn't very keen on this...
This a moment I just love. It's cropped out but what Helena is doing on the last panel is tossing her cross necklace into the ocean off the docks. It's the perfect ending to an arc that so beautifully describes the Huntress ("A Cry For Blood") because she's among the most sensitive Batman characters, the most emotional, and as a result she is one of the most flawed. She's driven by a lot of the same impulses that others in her profession are, the only difference between her and them is that she'll often take the risks they won't. How many times have we seen one character lecture another about not acting upon vengeful motivations which leads to the protagonist or foil to ultimately succumb to their sense of ethics? Helena just killed her enemy and bypassed the morality discussion. I like it, it's definitely not model behavior but you understand her motivation. It's deeply rooted in a trauma no one can understand. She's unconventional, her morals are flexible but her conscience and her own self-awareness prevail which humanizes her.
Speaking of moral authority, obviously the Huntress couldn't go too far without encountering ole grumpy Bats. And, believe you me, that was a strong and tempestuous dynamic...
This was the very first thing that attracted me to Helena way back in the "No Man's Land" days, she was really never afraid of Batman. There's really nothing better than an insubordinate, defiant sidekick though, right? Just look at Jason Todd! One thing that really doesn't uhm....resonate with me about Batman lately is his sidekick situation. We've got an orphanage of little boys, scrapping in the streets just asking for murderin' wherein Batman would be plagued with guilt for endangering them to start with. He's got TWO kids now, an adult daughter and a son as well...is it just me or does it elude anyone else that Batman's become such a family man? Who's next in the Bat family? A maid named Alice? Or does Alfred already fulfill that role? At any rate, I really miss Batman having more adult interactions. Back in about 2000, it wasn't so much about him being Daddy Bats but rather Paternal Mentor Bats. Even when I was growing up the Dick Grayson I knew from the animated series was in college and Chris O'Donnell was in his 20's when he played Robin. But that's a whole different discussion!
Anyways, a definite highlight of Batman and the Huntress' relationship (as well as the tension that always had a grasp on it) was when she started masquerading as Batgirl during "No Man's Land". She capitalizes on the silhouette of the ears and the cape and mainly intimidates street thugs and unadulterated wickedness ensues...
I love it. Helena hasn't earned the title, it's definitely going to irk Bruce, and she's just.... so not Barbara Gordon, you know she won't hold back if she gets her hands on you! Of course, like most of her interactions with Batman, it ends badly....
What I like about Bertinelli Huntress & Batman together is that they work off one another in a way that you don't often see with the rest of his allies. In a way, he wants the best for her and hopes to be a positive influence on her but he also hasn't any patience for nonsense so they're always at odds. He tried to set her up with the Justice League so she'd be around positive influences and it resulted in her trying to kill Prometheus. I wouldn't be surprised if he also had some say in her being in the Birds of Prey as well but it was always unclear as to why she was recruited other than that it was a motion to correct her past behavior. At any rate, it was a relationship that tested both characters in a compelling way. For Helena, it was more of a daddy complex that was addled with both resentment and desire for approval whereas for Bruce it was a test of his unflinching stoicism and reserve. At his core, he's just as emotional as Helena but keeps his emotions within the firm grip of his disciplined nature but Helena is most certainly a challenge to that. In a way, she's a more sympathetic version of Jason Todd but someone who can get a whole lot closer to Bruce if need be. It would've been quite interesting to see how that relationship developed but alas, it was largely ignored after "No Man's Land", I don't think DC realized what they had with that one. What a shame. Though Helena did have her moment with Bruce when she managed to fend off the Joker and his gang while taking a few bullets in the process....
Do you realize at this point I haven't even gotten to "The Birds of Prey"? There was enough here to provide for a hefty blog post and yet the thing she's arguably most famous is a few paragraphs in. That should be indication enough as to the power and complexity of Helena Bertinelli's character. Here she takes on Lady Shiva during one of the last "Birds of Prey" arcs....
Helena's perseverance pays off mightily here, she withstands Lady Shiva's blows just long enough to outwit her and throw her off her footing. It is then that Lady Shiva deems her "Iron Owl", a name that I doubt the Huntress would take to but nonetheless this is a telling feat.
The Huntress amongst her gal pals in the Birds of Prey is a whole different Huntress mainly because she's amongst truly nurturing souls like Dinah Lance and Barbara Gordon. She's a bit softer, more compassionate but still the wild card who's the first to dole out the thrashings when the going gets tough. I understand how Shiva fans object to their mistress being bested with such ease but Lady Blackhawk's line is the most telling of the series about the mental and physical constitution of Helena Bertinelli. She's enduring, she's stubborn, and she never rests on her laurels, the strength in Helena's character lies purely in her uncompromising will.
Ultimately, Helena Bertinelli beats the hell out of a path that is all her own. She made choices uncharacteristic of many heroines and heroes and her greatest journey is her internal struggle as a result of those choice. She wants peace but wrestles with relentless impulses that are influenced by everything to the contrary, she's unresolved and yet very complete in the sense that she knows who she is and what she believes in. If you ask me, I think DC is making a major mistake in benching Helena Bertinelli. I've never seen a character like her. Ever. She isn't the heir to Selina and Bruce's legacy and yet still somehow she encompassed some of the most intriguing facets of their characters. She has Selina's fire, her juvenile nature, her rebelliousness and she has Bruce's trauma, his unyielding conviction, and his relentlessness. Helena Bertinelli had enough material to stand on her own two feet outside of being associated with any other hero which I consider a great triumph.
I would, of course, be more forgiving if Helena were to return for a little Huntress vs Huntress face-off. Because, after all, what happens off panel is hardly a sufficient seal on any comicbook character's fate. But until that day, if it comes.....what a waste of an interesting life....
So, like many of her DC colleagues, Catwoman is in essence the same girl we know and love but the relaunch has left her a bit...tapped. For me, personally, a child of the 90's who was all about the nutzo Michelle Pfieffer Catwoman it's been pretty entertaining. So many superheroes are noble, ethical, non-contradictory and safe and so many supervillains are calculated and take ridiculous, sometimes overly elaborate precautions to ensure their dirty deeds stick, it's nice to see someone who's just sort of winging it. It's relatable for those of us who are a complete and total mess which is, let's face it, most of us. Selina cashes in on whatever good luck comes her way and runs on fumes till the sweet satisfaction of a damn good heist has her momentarily living good.
But after a particularly brutal moment in her last comic, I felt as though a proper assessment of the benefits and drawbacks of her Catwoman Interrupted phase were worth noting. What brutal moment you say? Angry sex with Batman? Almost beating a guy to death? Ermm, well, they're good candidates but here's what I had in mind....
YOWZA. Your eyes do not deceive you, this is Selina pulling a Tyson to get herself out of fix. A part of me has a fondness for this image because it reminds me of my own cat when she's cornered but I must say it really shocked me.
So without further adieu, let's get started.
PRO - It's Realistic
Look, someone who dresses up as a cat and goes out of thieving sprees after a tormented childhood lush with abuse and abandonment is bound to behave strangely. Not that comicbooks should reflect complete and total realism but I've found that in any form of expression, a basis in reality is key before things get too tangential. Part of the reason for why Holly temporarily took Selina's place as Catwoman (from an editorial standpoint) was because she was less "polished" than Selina which would provide for some entertainment. No offense to Holly but there's only one Catwoman for me. As far as I'm concerned, Selina doesn't need a foil to play out darker or lighter sides of her personality- she is (as the fable goes) the cat who walks by herself (and fans of the animated series in the 90's will catch the reference *wink* *wink*). She's got enough reasons to be a nut, let her ride it out! What's a character without inner-conflict? Boring. And it's important to me that Catwoman be anything but.
Say what you like about Judd Winick, I know I certainly did when he couldn't get through an interview about Catwoman without gushing all over her "sexiness" but I've been pleasantly surprised by the grit and brevity he brings to her character. He's spent surprisingly little time on the more superficial aspects of her character, avoided animal sounds like "mrrrrrooooow!!", and actually dug a bit deeper into Selina's compulsive stealing and what it means. In her first issue, Selina says she needs a "gig" to quell her restlessness and to me the frantic nature of her heisting and pilfering is more believable than a woman in a ball gown drinking merlot casually deciding to rob a museum or prostitute turning her profession into theft over one grudge and a desire for attention.
CON - Immaturity
I'm not a prude, I can appreciate that Selina enjoys a good lay with Batman as it was the innuendo of all their scenes beforehand. That being said, I do think that their chemistry also roots from a deeper understanding of abandonment, passion, along with accents of self-loathing and despair. I like Batman dragging her away from the edge in a sense but I also think it's important that we see how Catwoman liberates him as well and not just sexually but emotionally. I don't mind Selina loses her marbles but being reduced to a child throwing tantrums isn't something I want to see either. I like Batman scolding her in some ways but I would also like to see her be his intellectual equivalent more often, it's not as though he's a vision of sanity and clarity either...
PRO - It's EXCITING
When I first saw this...
... I was like "Wa-oh, it's ON, Catwoman is going to do the deed and nix someone completely" yet this is what happened...
Okay so she didn't kill anyone but that we may have believed for a fraction of a second that she would is not only interesting but riveting. Batman won't kill, Superman won't kill, hardly any superheroes enable themselves to cross that boundary but Catwoman isn't necessarily a superhero. It did make sense to me that she was never in favor of killing but who, in her position, wouldn't at least struggle with it? Or entertain the possibility? Her profession puts her in the company of degenerates on a daily basis and when one tortures and murders her friend is she wrong to seek revenge? I don't think so.
We see leads in comic books show up in the nick of time or have moments of deus ex machinas where they were actually the puppetmaster all along and a whole slew of other cliches. Even in those more morally complex like Wolverine you know his modus operandi, with the Catwoman we have now you have to let the chips fall where they may (second BTAS reference) and see what happens next. Genuine suspense is something hard to come by in a character so old, you gotta appreciate the freshness of it all.
CON - It Can Be Sorta Depressing
If it elicits a strong reaction, the artist or author did their job but every now and then characters deserve to have a good time and Catwoman is no exception. I invite the dysfunction but at the same time we've seen so many characters become so dark and serious it can get cliched and overly cynical. Catwoman is no Rorschach, a lot of the finesse of her character is joviality and self-satisfaction and I don't want to see that fade in favor of her darker struggles. Granted, I hate to see Catwoman poorly written, overly campy, and trivialized but she does have a humor and lightheartedness about her as well that accents that darker aspects to and I hope to see more of that.
I'm pretty happy with Catwoman at the moment, I feel as though Judd Winick has really given her something to do other than be either a cavalier, thieving sex object or a boring softened villain who's too indecisive to a hero. While there is room for improvement, I'm glad Catwoman is staying within parameters of what she should be but playfully defiant of that as well. The sex appeal, the visual aspect of her character is always going to be there so capitalizing on her as a person with feelings I think is paramount. I loved the Catwoman we've seen over the past decade and I'm glad to see she's not lost on this new incarnation completely but instead, rather, something this Catwoman could aspire to and eventually become. If she had it all figured out there wouldn't be a journey, there wouldn't be any growth which is essentially the sole duty of comic book creators and the characters themselves- to tell a story .