Wednesday, August 14, 2013

CATWOMAN #6 - January 1994



Animal Rites
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?

9 comments:

Teebore said...

And not necessarily asked with outrage; a teenage boy probably followed that question with a high-five.

Ha!

I assume this is another case of the trades leaving out a critical issue - because didn't we last see Selina Kyle on board the plane Bruce and Alfred were taking to track down Robin's father and Shondra Kinsolving?

I assumed that would lead to some kind of Bruce/Catwoman interaction during his part of the story, yet here she's back in Gotham doing her thing.

Scott Church said...

I had just picked up the Wizard issue with Catwoman on the cover, I want to say it was around issue #33 or 32 and my Mom was taking me home from the comic shop and saw it and made me rip the cover off of the Wizard and throw it away, she was disgusted by it.

I never read the 90's Catwoman series and only have any knowledge from it from Bat Crossovers and from the hype Wizard was giving it.

G. Kendall said...

"I assume this is another case of the trades leaving out a critical issue - because didn't we last see Selina Kyle on board the plane Bruce and Alfred were taking to track down Robin's father and Shondra Kinsolving? "

Yes. Apparently, every story involving Bruce's quest for Tim's father, and to be able to walk again, has been cut from the trades. Probably the most ridiculous decision made when putting these books together.

yrzhe said...

"Apparently, every story involving Bruce's quest for Tim's father, and to be able to walk again, has been cut from the trades. Probably the most ridiculous decision made when putting these books together."

Considering those issues actually have a single plot that runs through them (a pretty terrible plot, but a plot nonetheless) while most of Azrael's issues are self-contained arcs about him doing Batmany things, that's really baffling.

Teebore said...

Probably the most ridiculous decision made when putting these books together.

Wow, that's just...wow. That's like an entire storyline excised from the story. I can't believe they're just going to have Bruce show up, healed, with no explanation. That's rough.

Scott Church said...

At the time the store by my house didn't carry the book that showed how he got healed, I still really have no idea.

Matt said...

I didn't read Catwoman -- I really didn't read any DC outside of Batman Adventures -- but I admired Balent's rendition of the character from afar. This is still how I think Catwoman should look. Not every female character needs to have Barbie Doll anatomy, but I think it works for Catwoman.

I have a trade paperback called "The Catfile" which collects some Chuck Dixon/Jim Balent Catwoman stories from later in this series, and I think the story was okay, but mostly forgettable. I mainly bought it for the cheesecake once I was old enough to not be embarassed by such things.

Anonymous said...

I kinda like Jim Balent, but man what a way to waste Giordano's inks....

snowkatt said...

Wow, that's just...wow. That's like an entire storyline excised from the story. I can't believe they're just going to have Bruce show up, healed, with no explanation. That's rough.

that is exactly what happend
in vol 3 bruce shows up all healed with no explanantion given other then he is able to walk again

preposterous!
getting bruce to walk again is one the cruxes of this whole story arc ( the other is him regaining his confiendece and skills they left that in at least )

thes ebooks are already huge
adding a 100 or so more pages and increasing the price slightly would have made no difference
nor woudl have dividing the knightfall books up in 4 instead of 3

who knows what kind of boneheaded editorial decision facciliated this move though
( no im not at all bitter about it ! )

in fact dc left out 24 comics at least
in other words a whole fourth volume

here is the list:

Knightfall prelude :
• The Sword Of Azrael #1-4
• Batman #484-490
• Detective Comics #654-658

knightfall crusade

Robin #1

the search :

• Justice League Task Force #6
• Justice League Task Force #7
• Shadow Of The Bat #21
• Shadow Of The Bat #22
• Shadow Of The Bat #23
• Legends Of The Dark Knight #59
• Legends Of The Dark Knight #60
• Legends Of The Dark Knight #61
• Robin #7

troika
• Batman #515
• Shadow Of The Bat #35
• Detective Comics #682
• Robin #14

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