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A Catwoman 100-Page Super Spectacular Deep Dive – Aliens and Feminism

TITLE: Catwoman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular
AUTHORS: Paul Dini, Ann Nocenti, Tom King, Mindy Newell, Jeff Parker, Liam Sharpe, Mindy Newell, Chuck Dixon, Will Pfiefer, Ram V, Ed Brubaker.
ARTISTS: Emanuela Lupaccino, Robson Rocha, Mikel Janin, Jonathan Case, Sharpe, Lee Garbett, Kelley Jones, Pia Guerra, Fernando Blanco, Cameron Stewart. 1940s variant cover by Adam Hughes.
INKERS: Mick Gray, Daniel Henriques, Danny Miki
COLORISTS:
Laura Allred, Alejandro Sanchez, Jordie Bellaire, Alex Sinclair, Steve Oliff, FCD Plascencia
LETTERERS:
Wes Abbott, Saida Temofonte, Clayton Cowles, Tom Napolitano, Tom Orzechowski, Gabriela Downe
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $9.99
RELEASED: June 3, 2020

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

She’s undoubtedly the hottest 80-year-old woman you’ll ever see.

That’s right, folks. Like several other pillar characters in the DC Universe, Catwoman turns 80 this year. So like those characters, she got her own 100-page celebration. I can’t say she doesn’t deserve it. In terms of feminist icons, there are some who would place her in Wonder Woman’s orbit. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but one simply can’t dispute how iconic she is. Thus, DC assembled a brilliant assortment of talent for her big birthday celebration.

We kick things off with Paul Dini, who is always welcome in the Batman universe. Though I can’t say this is one of his most memorable outings. He uses his eight pages to introduce is to a villain called the Taxidermist. That, as Selina herself says in the story, is very “Gotham.” The Taxidermist seems like the kind of idea that was good on paper, but in actual execution…meh. I wouldn’t expect to see him on a best villains list anytime soon.

On the plus side, what little the Taxidermist offers looks absolutely gorgeous. Emanuela Lupaccino, Mick Gray, and Laura Allred give us something truly worthy of Catwoman’s 80th. It’s funny, I wondered why I was so reminded of Mike Allred, despite him not being credited. Once Laura Allred’s name popped up, it was all quite clear.

We dive into Batman Returns territory for “Now You See Me,” as Robson Rocha quite obviously draws Selina in her stitched black leather costume. We even get a brief appearance from the Penguin. Thankfully it all looks pretty. Though the story itself, about Catwoman duking it out with a dirty security guard, is pretty forgettable.

Much less forgettable is Tom King’s follow-up to his “Some of These Days” story from Batman Annual #2. It presents a scenario where a (presumably) married Selina and Bruce Wayne get pregnant and have a baby. Ironically, Selina once had a canonical daughter, though not with Bruce. Poor kid got retconned out of existence by the New 52.

It’s a pretty story that puts King back with Mikel Janin. That chemistry between Bruce and Selina was always his greatest strength during his Batman run. That two-issue “Rooftops” story from issues #13 and #14 will go down as one of the best Batman/Catwoman stories ever published.

My only complaint? We get at least one night of a pregnant Catwoman fighting crime with Batman, costume and all. Ladies? If you happen to be expecting, please don’t try this at home. (As if you needed me to tell you that…)

Our old Batman ’66 friends Jeff Parker and Jonathan Case return for a story about Catwoman and…aliens? I’m sure it’s happened before. But it’s still such an odd match-up. Which, of course, is the point.

Parker and Case take full advantage of the absurd premise, giving us absurd aliens with absurd names and looks that could easily have come from the original Star Trek series. Not to mention the absurdity that the world gets saved by a villainess. Because wouldn’t ya know it, aliens just happened to land when Batman was out of town. Don’t cha hate when that happens?

Things get surprisingly bloody for “A Cat of Nine Tales,” written and drawn by Liam Sharpe. Once again, we have Catwoman and a security guard. When confronted, Selina proceeds to tell the poor guy about nine ways this scenario can end. Most of which involve somebody dying.

I’m not sure the Selina Kyle of 2020 would be this chatty. But I can’t find it in my heart to sling too much mud at this. Aside from Wes Abbott on the lettering, what we see here is all Sharpe. And he manages to tell a coherent story in only three pages. So while by no means perfect, this story is still an achievement.

“Little Bird” is written by Mindy Newell and drawn by…LEE GARBETT!!!! When was the last time he was in Gotham? I’ve still got such fond memories of his work on the Stephanie Brown Batgirl series from…what was it, a decade ago?!? And the man hasn’t lost a step since, as he turns in some fine work here. He and colorist Alex Sinclair do a fine job channeling Batman: Year One. We get a scene where Selina is in similar…er, we’ll call “escort gear” as we see in that story. They also do a hell of a job on the gray David Mazzucchelli Catwoman costume, tail and all.

I was, however, initially confused. The story involves Selina stealing an old mezuzah that belonged to a woman who cared for her as a child. It took me a moment or two to figure out what a mezuzah is, and the identity of this elderly woman in a nursing home. I initially thought we might have jumped into another alternate future for Selina…

Still, they stick the landing. The story speaks to the idea that underneath all the theft and crime, Catwoman has a heart of gold. A great destination, even if the road to get there was a little rocky.

Chuck Dixon, one of the unsung heroes of modern Batman lore, returns alongside Kelley Jones for a Clayface story. Though I hate to say it, this isn’t one of his better outings. Not much to this one. I assume they went with Clayface to suit Jones’ horror strengths. Catwoman finds him, a confrontation ensues, rinse and repeat. I get the sense the only real purpose for this story was to have Selina be in the purple costume from the ’90s.

I know Kelley Jones has his crowd. I’ve just never really been one of them. I will say, though, that his Catwoman is very expressive here. I was pleasantly surprised to see that from him.

Things get downright meta for author Will Pfiefer’s return to the book, as he takes Selina to a comic book convention. He creates a world where the characters themselves are the autograph-signing, question-answering celebrities.

As someone who’s been to a number of these conventions, I found this story charming. Once I got the hang of it, that is. I initially found it difficult to get my bearings. But its a nice little anniversary story, and Pia Guerra’s art is very accessible.

I confess budget constraints caused me to fall off the monthly Catwoman series, so I’m not sure if her sister Maggie has been a regular or not. I have to assume she is, as “Addicted to Trouble” is about the sisters road tripping back to Gotham from Villa Hermosa. Naturally, it’s got a cool car in it. Hijinks ensue.

Thanks to the actions of Black Mask in an early 2000s story by Ed Brubaker and Cameron Stewart (who oddly enough are on the next story), Maggie is unable to speak. But she still makes a nice road-trip buddy for Selina, and we even focus a little bit on that inability. I wish they would have at least mentioned Black Mask in passing, as he wound up being one of Catwoman’s most-hated rivals.

Brubaker and Stewart evoke memories of 2000s Catwoman the same way Kelley Jones does 90s Batman. So their closing story, “The Art of Picking a Lock,” is an automatic sentimental favorite for yours truly. This book wasn’t cheap, but seeing Stewart draw Selina, Holly, and Slam Bradley again is almost worth the price of admission by itself. And as you’d expect, Brubaker’s pulpy writing style is right at home in Gotham City. God damn I miss him being on a Bat-book.

I wouldn’t call this collection memorable. But it’s a nice little tribute to Catwoman with some A-listers contributing, and a couple of nice nostalgia trips to boot. If nothing else, it should make Selina’s fans smile. I certainly did.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

Weekly Comic 100s: Friday, Swamp Thing X-Ray Robot, and More!

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Talking about Friday on a Wednesday

Well how about that. Not only is this train still runnin’ despite weekly comics not hitting shelves, but we got two out in one week!

I highly encourage everybody to go over to Panel Syndicate and check out not only Friday, but all the stuff available there. It’s all pay-as-you-wish, i.e. if you want to pay $3.99 for an issue, you can do that. If you want to pay nothing for an issue you can do that too. Heck, if you want to be super generous and pay $100 for an issue, knock yourself out! Right now the comic book industry needs all the help it can get.

TITLE: Friday #1
AUTHOR: Ed Brubaker
ARTISTS:
Marcos Martin, Muntsa Vincente
RELEASED:
April 2020

Courtesy of Panel Syndicate comes Friday, a “post-young-adult” story about two kid detectives (think Encyclopedia Brown or Harriet the Spy) who’ve hit adolescence. But when Friday Fitzhugh comes back from college, discovers she has at least one more mystery to solve with Lancelot Jones.

Lancelot Jones. Now that is a character name.

Thus far, Friday is your standard grounded and gritty Brubaker story. But I’m in love with the idea of child detectives grown up. The “glory days” of a certain innocence are over and now these kids, these former super-sleuths, have to face the real world.

TITLE: X-Ray Robot #1
AUTHOR: Mike Allred
ARTISTS:
Allred, Laura Allred (Colorist), Nate Piekos (Letterer).
RELEASED:
March 18, 2020

Holy crap. Anybody got any weed?

By the time you close this issue, X-Ray Robot #1 manages to be a trippy experience. It’s part superhero comic, part B-movie, part psychedelic freak-out.

Apparently part of Mike Allred’s Madman Universe, X-Ray Robot is about a scientist who uses a robot to explore new dimensions. But an unexpected twist leaves him with a dilemma he never dreamed of.

I’m a casual Mike Allred fan, so I’ll have my eye out for this book once comics are hitting the stands again. It’s an…experience, to say the least.

TITLE: Capable #1
AUTHOR: Jonathan Hedrick
ARTISTS: Gino Kasmyanto, Periya Pillai (Colorist), Steve Ekstrom (Letterer)
RELEASED: April 22, 2020

Capable #1 is very much a low-level indie comic. It certainly reads like one in terms of dialogue. I understand high-schoolers have potty mouths. But being profane for profanity’s sake is obnoxious.

That said, the concept is compelling. Some kind of otherworldly occurrence gives disabled people around the world superpowers. Naturally some, like our main character Derik Davidson, use these abilities for good. Others for evil.

I’m inclined to give issue #2 a look. I want this book to live up to its potential. The only thing holding it back right now is some needlessly bush-league language.

TITLE: Space Is Awful #1
AUTHOR: Derek Moreland
ARTIST:
Derrick Fleece
RELEASED:
April 22, 2020

A black and white comic about a fat convenience store janitor in an outer space arena fighting a giant baboon and a robot that makes awful puns?

Sure. Why not?

Space is Awful reads like Clerks meets Coneheads meets a Simpsons Halloween special. It’s a comic that’s happy to bask in its own ridiculousness. I wish more comics could have the sense of unabashed fun that this one does. Very curious to see how they try to up the ante with issue #2.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels, Panels of Awesomeness

Panels of Awesomeness: Catwoman #1

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

CREATORS: Joelle Jones (Pencils, Inks), Laura Allred (Colors). Josh Reed (Letters)

THE SCENE: In Villa Hermosa, Mexico, Raina Creel, the governor’s wife, removes her gorgeous facade to reveal her true self. Presumably the brains of the outfit, she uses her resources to target Catwoman.

WHY IT’S AWESOME: Last week, the “DC Nation” portion of all the new issues was dedicated to this page, and Joelle Jones’ creative process. One of the things she said was: “Most of the female villains at DC are really sexy, so I wanted my bad guy to be someone who was really grotesque, who had ruined herself with surgery and drugs.”

Mission accomplished.

I’m not sure how much Jones intended to use Raina as a good ol’ fashioned commentary device for our brutally superficial culture. But this page alone speaks volumes in that respect. Grotesque is indeed the word. Not just because of what she’s doing, but the specific snapshots Jones uses. The fake eyelashes pulling at the skin. The saliva dragging from her false teeth. The pinching of the contact lens. And that damn nose. As far as introductions to a new villain are concerned, this is the best I’ve seen in years.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.