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!'”