Wednesday, August 14, 2013
CATWOMAN #6 - January 1994
Credits: Jo Duffy (writer), Jim Balent (penciler), Dick Giordano (inker), Bob Pinaha (letterer), Buzz Setzer (colorist)
Summary: Members of the Friends of the Earth Nature Magic Alliance contact Catwoman, warning her that industrialists are scheming to use the new neurotoxin Xyklon-C to kill animals in the rainforest, thus opening the area for development. She also discovers that one of the Alliance’s members, Professor Underhill, inadvertently created the toxin. Underhill is targeted by kidnappers, but is rescued by Batman. When Underhill returns to the group, he explains that Xyklon-C is inert until it’s mixed with Atrophane. Two rogue Alliance members, Marv and Doogie, steal Underhill’s notes and leave to find a supply of Atrophane. Catwoman attempts to head them off by robbing a chemical warehouse, unaware Batman is watching her.
Irrelevant Continuity: I don’t know if this was the regular status quo for the title, but in this story, Catwoman treats Selina Kyle as a fabricated public persona, putting on a blonde wig and pretending to be a ditzy clutz. She’s also a “part time” member of the Friends of the Earth Nature Magic Alliance.
Review: The early ‘90s Catwoman series is probably best remembered as the most flagrant example of mainstream cheesecake during the era. Even Wizard magazine had to comment on the outright insanity of Jim Balent’s anatomy (of course they still put his rendition of Catwoman on the cover, and made sure to reproduce as many of his drawings as possible in each issue). I don’t recall anyone ever discussing the actual storylines, any attention the book received was more along the lines of “Can you believe DC is publishing this?” And not necessarily asked with outrage; a teenage boy probably followed that question with a high-five.
So, was Catwoman any good? I only have a few issues to judge the series on, but they don’t give me a lot of hope. Someone in the early ‘90s thought it would be a good idea to remake Catwoman as an animal rights activist (remember her early appearances in the cartoon?), which I guess Jo Duffy has taken to the next level by having her associate with an eco-terrorist group. The “Friends of the Earth Nature Magic Alliance” just sounds like a parody, and based on the physical appearance of several members, I can only assume that’s what Duffy is going for. An affectionate parody, since Duffy certainly seems to be siding with the group. Yet, she also has Catwoman point out that several of them have a bloodlust that rivals the industrialists they’re fighting. (The story doesn’t draw attention to this, but it’s also obvious that the group is more concerned with the rainforest animals that will be killed by the gas than the indigenous people.) By the story’s end, we see two of the goofiest members steal the gas so that they can use it against the comically evil businessmen who created it. Marv and Doogie are such ridiculous characters, it’s hard to believe that their actions are going to be the inciting incident for this Batman crossover, but here we are.
All of the talk regarding the neurotoxin, and there’s a lot of it, mainly serves as a setup for getting Catwoman to steal something while maintaining a pure motive. I don’t know if the series had to do this often, but it seems like a lot of energy is wasted on finding reasons for Catwoman to steal things. I’m assuming this had to be done because Catwoman was at least somewhat reformed by this point, but that doesn’t make the lengthy setup any less boring. And all of the Captain Planet material feels out of place in a Catwoman story anyway. Couldn’t she just steal from other criminals?