Thursday, July 7, 2011

Batman: The Cat and The Bat


Cover by Kevin Maguire

Batman: The Cat and the Bat (2009)
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciller: Kevin Maguire
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Colorist: I.L.L.

What in the holy hell was this comic?

I was so angry while reading this, that I actually had to put it down and walk away from it for a couple of days. It was like reading a Batman fanfiction written by an 11 year old boy with no basic understanding of girls (I suspect that the average 11 year old boy may actually understand women a bit better than Fabian Nicieza). Look, this entry is probably going to be really mean to this guy, of whom I have absolutely no knowledge. Apparently, he helped create the character, Deadpool, so there’s a couple points his way, and maybe his work there was absolutely awesome. If so, he should’ve stuck with Deadpool and not touch my beloved Batgirl with a 50-foot pole.

I am also fully aware that I read this comic with a personal history with Batgirl/Barbara Gordon. I love her. She’s one of my favorite comic book characters and one of the reasons why I love the Batman mythos. Therefore, I am fiercely protective of her. Gail Simone has her done pat. So do a few other writers I’ve encountered but Nicieza… sweet Batman, that was some derogatory, sexist and offensive crap right there.

The thin plot follows Batgirl pursuing Catwoman after Catwoman stole Jim Gordon’s secret notebook. It’s still very early in Batgirl’s career so most of her inner monologue concerns her doubts, insecurities, improvised ideas and her hopes that Batman will be impressed with her work. All of this, I was fine with. Of course she’s going to be concerned and worried that she will not do a good job when she’s just starting out. I’ve seen some comics where Robin also dealt with these issues, though not frantically or with as many panels of him pouting or biting his lip as Batgirl seemed to do constantly here.

I knew I was going to hate this comic when one of the first panels after Batgirl chases after Catwoman involves her falling unceremoniously right on her ass and looking as disheveled as a little kid when they fall off their bicycle. Her tongue is stinking out, she looks confused and she simply sits there moaning about how much that hurt before yelling at Catwoman that she does not, in fact, have freckles.

Okay. No. Absolutely not.

I have never seen Batman fall on his ass and then yell at the Joker for making fun of his appearance. You know why? Because he’s too busy kicking ass and cleaning up crime to care what the Joker thinks. Batgirl, though technically lower than Batman on the Bat-family hierarchy, as the exact same job. Why, in God’s name, would an incredibly well-trained, deadly crime-fighting vigilante like her feel the need to be insulted about her looks?

Oh wait, of course. She’s a girl. It’s right there in her title: Batgirl. How stupid of me to overlook that.

And because she’s a girl and Catwoman is a woman, both their costumes get ripped to shreds in the process of pursuing each other (apparently their impenetrable armor is made out of the same material that stockings are made out of), and they fight each other naked in the middle of an orgy. Seriously. That happened.

Catwoman lures Batgirl into the Gotham City Hedonist Society, because apparently that exists, and the naked receptionist insists to Batgirl that if she wants to go in, she must be naked. Club rules. Instead of knocking that shrimpy, smug naked dude out, like I know she can, she acquiesces, takes off her protective armor (aside from her cowl) and spends the next several pages nakedly fighting. It was at this point, if you couldn’t already guess, that I had to put the comic down and walk away in an effort to keep myself from setting it on fire.

Of course Batman shows up (after they’re dressed luckily) and like a grim-faced, conservative father, proceeds to clean up the mess that Batgirl has made. Batman, by nature, is pretty condescending but instead of simply coldly correcting Batgirl, as he should have done, he was super patronizing and incredibly demeaning to her. The only person who shows any respect towards her is the Riddler, oddly enough.

Along with the terrible plot and overt misogyny, the art was terrible. I hated it so damn much. Everyone looked like they were made out of clay: all lumpy and doughy. I thought I hated the art in Arkham Asylum the most. I was totally wrong. This was the worst and weakest I have ever seen thus far.

Alright, there was one slightly redeeming moment in this comic. There was a pretty cool scene with the Joker. Somehow or other, Batgirl finds herself in Arkham Asylum and if she answers a riddle correctly before the Joker, her door will open and she can escape. If not, the Joker’s door opens and, by the looks of her leering eyes through a slot in his cell, he is pretty anxious to get out. This was actually a genuinely creepy scene and an actually scary Joker. I thought it was clever that we only see his eyes, sunken and surrounded by dark circles and rather dead inside. He wasn’t particularly funny but instead, genuinely seemed like a violent criminal. I also thought it was a cool riddle (for once) and I enjoyed that Batgirl, after answered correctly and running out, can still hear the Joker laughing in his cell. After so much gimmicky, over-the-top stupidity, it was so nice to actually have a suspenseful, creepy scene.

Okay, I have to stop. I couldn't stand this comic. I couldn't stand what Nicieza did to two of my favorite characters: Batgirl and Catwoman. I abhor it when comic books try too hard to be sexy and/or funny because they almost always fail.

1 comment:

  1. I'm just curious why Batman is even in the title when he's not in the book. They should've just called it Catwoman/Batgirl: The Bat and the Cat. I was always annoyed when they sell a story under a character because they're afraid (probably, rightfully so, in this case) that without Batman this title wouldn't sell.
    By the way, love, love, love the Clue gif. ^_^