DC’s New 52 slips on the leather cat suit and whip and gets a little rough, so be prepared, and know your safe word, because Catwoman is back. Watch out for your family jewels.
Like most of the New 52, this book sets about establishing the character’s status quo in this new continuity. As is the case with most of the other Bat-books, not much is really changing here for the character, except to reflect the larger editorial decisions at DC.
Everything about Selina Kyle has been cranked up to eleven here. Winick’s story has Selina once again starting her life over, this time after losing everything when someone she pissed off blows up her home. Right from the start there is danger, there is action and last but not least, a healthy dose of Selina’s sexuality.
While the story engages, it’s more likely March’s artwork that will have people talking about Catwoman. The first four pages have Selina trying to escape three large, machine-gun-toting thugs who have surprised her in her home. As they break down the door, she is hastily gathering up what she needs, while scooping up her brood of startled looking felines, to make a hasty escape. While she is putting on her “work clothes” we get shots of her body. But it’s not just about the T & A, Winick takes us inside Selina’s mind exploring the motivations, fears and needs that shape her actions. She is smart but impulsive, and it’s that tendency to give into her baser animal instincts that got her into trouble, maybe more than she can handle on her own. The story has Catwoman’s past come back to haunt her. While doing recon for a potential job, a run-in with a Russian mobster has her flashing back to a time where she was not as strong (vaguely referencing the history of prostitution established by Frank Miller), when she witnessed another woman beaten to death. Unfortunately for him, Selina is much more assertive now. Unfortunately for her, however, this blows her cover and adds the Russian mob to those after her.
Oh, then there’s Batman. Between Selina’s exploding apartment, and her assault on the Ruskie, Batman was bound to notice that she was attracting some attention. Catwoman and Batman, the very mention of the two them together conjures up thoughts of leather and rubber, capes and claws. The idea that they are lovers is noting new, but not since Pfeiffer and Keaton has their relationship coupling been so graphically explored. Provocative and borderline pornographic, Winick and March captures not just the physical relationship between the Cat and the Bat, but the emotional one as well. Having Selina admit that she may need Batman, in any capacity, is telling of just how she feels for the Caped Crusader. For Batman to allow himself such an indulgence as to let someone get that close to him, both physically and emotionally, well that should tell you a lot.
I expect that the reaction to this book will be pretty dramatic. You will probably either love it or hate it. The “fetish-ization” of Catwoman will make some seethe while others will be drawn in by the bold risks the creative team is taking. Either way, people are talking about Catwoman, which is what DC wanted with the relaunch, isn’t it?