Escher Cats! – Catwoman #50!

In case anyone forgot what kind of quality writing and character work we’d be getting into with Catwoman’s big number 50 for her first solo series (and I won’t blame you if you have – a) it’s kinder to forget b) this post series has been on hiatus), this is the actual last line from from Catwoman #50:

“As for me, even if I never figure out who I am and why, at least I know what i am … A sleek and stealthy shadow shadow-cat, savoring the spice of night.”

Ah yes, the spice of night. Probably what made Catwoman forget who she is and why she does what she does … or maybe that was just the writer, trying to have an “interesting” angle on her.

The answer is a lot. Although Batman is possibly the funniest, followed by Robin. Even Joker seems to be pain laughing.

It’s kindest on yourself if you don’t try to make that cybernetic cat suit make sense. Instead, try figuring out how many of the characters on the cover look like they’re in pain and/or extremely grumpy due to being associated with this issue.

Looking through this issue yet again to write this and to see if there is anything I need to especially point out – I almost think I should have been tracking whether or not Jim Balent had added help on art for each issue. I have previously noted (somewhere in my big body of Balent-era Catwoman posts) that the change in paper and inking did seem to affect the art, and I had noted to myself that Balent’s art seems to pop more with Bud Seltzer’s colours.

However, it was not until this issue that I realized quite how badly not doing the pencils and inks himself could change the Escher Girls level of Balent’s Catwoman work. And I don’t mean that the art makes a sudden and vast improvement with regards to anatomy (or that it stays as dynamic and interesting).

Maybe she's going to transform into a helicopter and her legs are the chopper's blades??

Bottom left. I’d cry but this is only page two of the comic. There is still so much art (and story) induced suffering left.

I seriously don't think that pose is Balent's. At least not how it ended up on page. As I've said many times before, the guy may anatomy problems and his work declines, but he was really good at dynamic poses and interesting panels and that pose is pure garbage, besides being an anatomical horror of fused limbs and folding head.

Everlasting, confusing horror is what the upper right panel is. The problems only start with how her head looks like she’s a Transformers toy where the head folds forward and down. I can’t even tell what body part is what below that.

Seriously. With the angle she's at and what she's trying to do, we should be able to see her left side above the lip of the roof.

Middle panel – It’s the amazing Disassembled Limbs Girl! She has no torso, but watch as her arms and legs climb a building and then assemble themselves into a walking, talking human being!!

I feel like I need a gif from the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings adaptation of Saruman telling Gandalf that he has “elected the way of pain,” but – I don’t have it, so I’ll just interrupt the continued artistic suffering to say that I think this issue could have been cool if the ridiculous continued Who Is Catwoman? b.s. were skipped and both Cybercat as a character and Catwoman facing off against a dead set on vengeance Cybercat were treated as a proper superhero facing off a deadly, capable, equipped counterpart/equal type of narrative. But instead Catwoman ends up (and admittedly, this is part of why she was given a solo series in the first place – to give them an additional book to use for Batman crossovers and events) frequently in the place of an accessory to the bat books and her own unique villains, when she gets them, as the accessories of accessories.

Meaning – this should have been and could have been Superhero Faces Off Against Classic Villain (this is, again, her first solo series and Catwoman straight-up vanished from the comics for a while due to the Comics Code and this is also a fresh continuity, so this really was the chance to establish her own stable of villains like Batman, Superman, etc got to have when they started out with their own series) and it wasn’t. And that’s disappointing, on top of the continuation of the writing and story stuff I just have not been enjoying during Doug Moench’s tenure writing Catwoman.

And – I am going to have to reign myself in on sharing the way of pain with y’all because I will end up posting most of the issue then. But, as should already be clear, it does not get better and nobody is safe from the bad art, bad poses, and bad story.

My primary thoughts and emotions here were a) who the heck are you (and why should I care)?? and b) is it over yet??

Yeah, so, there’s literally four pages of tech dude making that face from various angles, the men in black looming, the men in black being incredibly vague while I guess trying to info dump stuff for us, and the men in black using air quotes a lot. Because. Reasons.

Life and hope are being sucked out of the room so I will just sum up by saying –

  • Catwoman spends a couple pages dialoguing about how she doesn’t know who she is and is she a feisty cat or a lost little girl … while holding seven cans of “Kitty,” which is either canned cat food or canned food that is made of cats.
  • Catwoman, as Selina, goes on a date with Mr Wants To Solve The Mystery Of Catwoman While Stalking Her And Stealing Her Diary From Her Weird Shrine Thing from previous issues.
  • Clutterbuck appears to make the abomination of a tech suit from the issue’s cover. And he’s still named Clutterbuck and is still a paragon of We Hate Nerds.
  • Catwoman has her final showdown with Cybercat and … it ends up less cool, emotion filled hero villain fight and villain defeat (in my head, a la, say, Iron Man and Living Laser from Iron Man Armoured Adventures) and more Cybercat ends up sexily stripped of her cybernetic armor and turns out to be just a lost little girl and not a feisty cat and/also so Catwoman can feel better about being beaten by her earlier in the issue and about her own “Am I a feisty cat or a lost little girl?” dilemma. Yeah. Not impressed. Also the men in black show up to loom over sexily stripped Cybercat. Because … they’re guys in black who loom over people who invent tech. That is seriously the only solid info on their motives in the whole issue.
  • Catwoman says that dang line I quoted at the start of this post.

And now for the Escher Girls Bingo score card so this horror show can finally be over.

Or for, this issue filled me with an unusual amount of hate instead of disinterest

There wasn’t a square for weeping in pain and torment.

And the title page, just as a bonus:

I feel like I was mean but at the same time I'm just not sorry. This issue was a horrible cluster of the ongoing bad to lackluster story and character work of Doug Moench's run on the series and art dragged down by too many cooks trying to help a declining Jim Balent, possibly by drastically redrawing some of the panels and pages.

I think the writer just made some blackout poetry and copied it into a bunch of her internal monologue boxes?? Also, there’s a body in motion and then there’s a body in melting wax motion. Or maybe uncooked bread dough motion…

As always, Catwoman belongs to DC Comics and Escher Girls is the creation of the awesome Ami Angelwings. And the Escher Girls bingo card belongs to the Escher Girls fan who created it.

Leave a Reply