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Will the Cat Come Back?

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Believe it or not, Catwoman is one of the oldest members of Batman’s rogues gallery. The Joker might get more attention, but both characters made their first appearance in 1940’s Batman #1.

And over her almost 70 years of existence, the character has been one of the few comics characters to make an influence on pop culture. She has appeared on TV, on the movie screens, and has supported more than one successful comic book series. And now she is set to make her biggest impact yet.

Catwoman #75 details Selina Kyle’s exile to the world featured in the Salvation Run series. This is only one of the many titles that lead into the forthcoming Final Crisis miniseries and judging on Catwoman’s appearance on a recent cryptic publicity image, her story on this planet might be an important one to the events leading up to that series.

Catwoman got her name not because of her fascination with felines, which would be added to her character later. She got her name because she was a cat burglar—a stealthy, agile type of thief known for breaking into residences through high windows or tight openings.

Naturally, this put her at odds with Batman, and she became a re-occurring foe for him. Each encounter included a hint of romantic tension. More than once Catwoman pined for Batman, and there were hints that Batman might return the feeling.

And possibly due to these amorous intentions, the Golden Age creators occasionally had her work on the side of the angels and help Batman more than once. Even today, the character continues to operate on both sides of the law.

Catwoman’s status quo changed in 1987 in Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One arc. Prior to that, Selina Kyle was a former stewardess who turned to a life of crime after stealing back her family jewels off her abusive ex-husband. Miller changed her backstory to her being a prostitute inspired by Batman to become a cat burglar.

This is an example of the problematic portrayal of the Catwoman character. She is portrayed as both a strong female role-model—intelligent, courageous and able to stick up for herself—and an example of the worse female stereotypes—the swooning love interest, the naughty temptress and, with Batman: Year One, a prostitute.

Her having been a prostitute has been pretty much ignored, but this dichotomy continues today with the current series. Will Pfeifer writes Selina as a complex and interesting character, but it’s the Adam Hughes covers—and their focus more on Selina’s cleavage than the story inside—that gets the most notice.

Sales as of late have been grim for the series. The One Year Later story (it was revealed that Selina became a mother in that year) resulted in a slight bump, but the numbers have been in a vitural free-fall ever since. The last year of   issues have ranked outside the Diamond Top 100 and sales for issue #73 a dangerously low 18,808 copies, hence the crossover with Salvation Run and the tie-in to the whole Countdown event.

As anyone following the event knows, there is a planet where the DC villains have been sent to remove them from the general populace. In this aptly named Hell Planet, the bad guys have formed their own society, with the Joker and Lex Luthor leading two factions for the control of the world. Will Catwoman pick a side? It looks like she’ll have to if she wants to survive.

Catwoman is one of DC’s most popular and recognizable characters. This storyline might just be a last ditch effort to save her latest series. And, judging on the uncertain nature of the DC Universe at this time, it could be the last chance you’ll have to see her alive. Something to think about when you make your comic purchases tomorrow.

Also out this week:

New Exiles #1:

I was wondering something. Why was Exiles rebooted? Usually when a series gets a new number one, it’s to increase sales. But Exiles was strong enough to last 100 issues on its own and ranked consistently in the Diamond 100 (the lower half of the Diamond 100, but still…)

Or, was it restarted to allow writer Chris Claremont to put his own stamp on it? The new characters added recently—Psylocke, Rogue, Sage—are Claremont favorites and their new mission—“to safeguard the fate and the future of the Omniverse”—is a task Claremont gave to Captain Britain when he was writing his adventures.

Either way, here we are with a new series. I am a fan of alternate universes and of the last Exiles series. Hopefully, I’ll enjoy this one as well.

Chris Claremont (W), Tom Grummett (A), Marvel Comics, $2.99.   Ongoing Series.

The Flash # 236:

Back in July of last year, there was a couple of weeks of columns that weren’t published. One of those columns I posted on my own personal blog and it focused on the return of Mark Waid to The Flash. In it, I linked to a rumor Rich Johnston reported in a Lying in the Gutters column from that time which stated that Waid would only be on the Flash for four issues and I wrote about how disappointing that would be.

Well, Rich was wrong. Waid didn’t leave The Flash after four issues. He left after six, seven if you count that All-Flash one-shot. This week marks the last of Waid’s run on the title. Next month features a fill-in by Keith Champagne and then new regular writer Tom Peyer takes over the month after.

The one thing that I wasn’t wrong about was how disappointing it is. I was hoping for a long and successful return by Waid on the title. I feel a little bit cheated that all he gave was a jump start.

Mark Waid (W), Freddie William II (A), DC Comics, $2.99. Ongoing Series.

Cemetary Blues #1:

The Surreal Adventures of Edgar Allan Poowas a weird little graphic novel that came out last year from Image Comics. That tale developed a bit of a cult following, surely due in part to Thomas Boatwright’s unique and macabre artwork. Well, Boatwright is back and he joins writer Ryan Rubio on this new series.

Ridley and Falstaff are monster hunters. Their prey is a sorcerer named Orlok. Their search is interrupted by the town of Hernesburg. You see, they have something evil lurking in their woods and they want our heroes to get rid of it. Problem is, whatever that thing is, it already claimed the life of another monster hunter. Could Orlok be involved in this town’s problems? Could Ridley and Falstaff be this thing’s next victims? And what is in the woods exactly?

Ryan Rubio (W), Thomas Boatwright (A), Image Comics, $2.99. Ongoing Series.

Stranded #1:

The worlds of Science-Fiction and comic books have forever been linked. Many writers from the early days of comics to today got their start writing science-fiction. And a lot of comic writers branched out into the world of Sci-Fi prose. You have to look no further than your local bookstore to see the connection, as graphic novels are nestled comfortably in the science-fiction section.

This symbiotic relationship gets taken to another level this week as cable network, The Sci-Fi Channel’s partnership with Virgin Comics begins with this title. The series focuses on five people who realize that their whole existence was a lie. They thought they were human but in reality they were visitors from outer space. Now, a powerful threat has set about to exterminate them all. Their only hope for survival is to realize what they really are and unlock their long forgotten potential.  

  Mike Carey (W), Virgin Studios (A), Virgin Comics, $2.99. Ongoing Series.

Robin #170:

Chuck Dixon has a reputation as being a manly man’s writer. He writes the hard-as-nails, hyperviolent, testosterone filled stories that action fans love. But he also acted as the nursemaid for the series starring one of comicdom’s most famous kid sidekicks, Robin.

Dixon wrote the three trial miniseries for Robin in the early 1990’s. This led to an ongoing series, which Dixon wrote the first 100 issues of. Now, he’s back on the title he helped create and he might not be coming back alone. Rumors abound that his first arc will return the fan-favorite, recently deceased Stephanie Brown (a.k.a. Spoiler) back to life. Will it happen? And if it does, how will it be explained? Long time Robin fans probably can’t wait to find out!

Chuck Dixon (W), Chris Batista (A), DC Comics, $2.99. Ongoing Series.

Wolverine Origins #21:

Deadpool has to be one of the most popular characters Rob Liefeld ever had a hand in creating. However, Liefeld only was involved in a handful of Deadpool’s appearances before he left Marvel to start Image. The character’s popularity grew through the efforts of Fabian Nicieza, Joe Kelly and Gail Simone.

The events in the X-Men titles were responsible for the cancellation of Deadpool’s last series, Cable & Deadpool. So, it’s back to the world of guest appearances for Wade Wilson. This week, he’s visiting Wolverine. Both were part of the Weapon X program, and I’m sure this issue will reveal some secrets. And it will tide over Deadpool fans until his next series hits the shelves, whenever that might be.

Daniel Way(W), Steve Dillon (A), Marvel Comics, $2.99, Ongoing Series.

###

William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer. He also writes periodic comic reviews for PopMatters, is a weekly contributor to Film Buff Online and writes title descriptions for Human Computing’s Comicbase collection management software. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

 

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