Reading Some 90s Batman and Then Complaining About It

I love 90s Batman. By which I mean late 80s, early 90s post-crisis Batman following the Year One reboot and the Legend of the Dark Knight and Shadow of the Bat titles which explored a much darker Gotham with the gritty realism that was not found in so much in the Tim Burton films but seeped into every nook and cranny of the Nolan trilogy.

There is some really great writing (by comic standards, at least) in a lot of these books, and there’s also some really great art. Sure there is some terrible art, like whatsisname who did the art for Troika where every panel with Robin made Tim Drake look more than twice his age and violently constipated, but overall, it was an era of pretty good artwork with fairly well drawn people.

Which is why I seriously want to know who sent out the memo to always make Catwoman look awful. I just got done reading Prey, a 1991 Legend of the Batman arc featuring Hugo Strange, a psychoanalyst with pathological obssession with the Batman. All the character art in it is great, except for Catwoman.

Without fail, every time I’ve seen Catwoman show up in one of those 90s Batman comics, she looks like she has been drawn butt naked then colored in purple. Scenes show her putting on her catwoman outfit, so it IS supposed to be clothing, but no clothing in universe looks like that, not even undersized skin-suits. I feel like I’d actually be less bothered if the comics showed her spraying purple body paint all over rather than say she’s wearing clothes, because at least then her character design would make some sense!

Worst of all, she looks like that in titles where all of the other art is exceptional, so it’s not that the artist can’t draw. She’s INTENTIONALLY drawn badly.  I can’t just chalk it up to sexism, or at least the simple intrinsic sexism/objectification/whatever that exists within the comic medium.  That’s too easy, because that’s how she’s drawn in ALL of the titles I’ve read from around that time.  There has to have been some official character design policy in place to explain this. There has to be a memo or something from some high-up at DC stating “At all times, draw Selina Kyle while in her costume as though she were completely naked.”

Maybe someday on one of those documentaries on comics where they feature all those big name artists and writers telling stories of the glory days, Doug Moench or someone will be all like “Oh, yeah, ******, that asshole, was always hounding artists, ‘make it nake’it!'”

16 responses to “Reading Some 90s Batman and Then Complaining About It

    • Nothing wrong with it. She’s not a badly written character, just badly drawn. Her design in the DC Animated Universe, based more on Michelle Pfeiffer’s version, was much less ridiculous.

      • Yeah, the grey and black one. I think I heard once that they wanted it to look like the one from Batman Returns, but made it grey, since they were animating against solid black backgrounds. Julie Newmar was undeniably an incredibly attractive woman.

      • Probably the same way that she played whatsername from the avengers movies.

        Even though it was pretty divergent from her character in the comics, I actually really enjoyed Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman. More for the writing and what was done with the character than for Anne herself, but it worked very well thematically.

        I’d actually really like to see what Paget Brewster would bring to the character, if they decided to play up the “femme fatale superspy for hire” aspect of Catwoman.

      • Maybe it’s because I hate love triangles, I always wanted Superman to settle down with Lori. I mean, Lana was “Smallville Girl” and Lois was “Metropolis Girl,” but they were both human… and Superman was not. I mean, maybe a mermaid is a bit of an odd match for an alien, but whatevs.

        They were _my_ OTP, and that’s all that has to matter to me. 😉

        –Dither

      • My mind immediately went to Tom Waits’ “Fish & Bird” for some reason.

        I’ve always found Lois Lane pretty obnoxious, but that has a lot to do with her being sort of the Ur Example of the needy superhero girlfriend.

      • Also, there’s really something to be said for seeing superhero characters settled down. I get why it’s not done, but when it is, it’s really rewarding. Like Big Barda living like a soccer-mom out in the suburbs but ready to roll whenever the words “Darkseid is going to…” are uttered in her immaculate living room.

  1. On a totally unrelated topic, I have been having a bitch of a time accessing my website the last couple… months. It pains me now to look at when I started investigating this issue… at the beginning of August.

    I’ll hopefully be switching webhosts before the end of the year. GoDaddy is apparently the devil. I wish I’d learned sooner. It’s very likely they’ve been strangling my traffic as long as they’ve hosted my site. <_<

    –Dither

    • Sorry to hear that you’ve been having trouble over on the site. I try to drop by at least once every day to check for new content and have been receiving “webpage not found” errors often enough for it to seem like a pretty serious issue for you.

      I managed to get my own issues resolved, fortunately. Turns out even though ICANN changed their regulations almost a year ago, they JUST NOW got around to suspending my domain name for not having a valid email address associated with my validation. If I’d been crazy and paranoid, I’d be all “ZOMG! I’VE BEEN HACKED!” but it turns out that I just needed to setup a new free email account to revalidate my zombie domain, and within less than a minute, my gmail was working again.

      • I can’t think of a worse time for my webhost to act up (again). Between the move and starting school and a million other way more important things, I haven’t been able to log in and update my blog or comic.

        The few times I stuck with it long enough to bring up the page, it took 40+ minutes. Time better that would have been better spent looking for a new webhost. I think I found one this afternoon. #LeSigh

        –Dither

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