Sunday Fun Day: Where’s Waldo, Jim Balent Catwoman Style (Week Four)

This week Catwoman does battle with the Joker and with the decline of Jim Balent’s cover and interior art. She also shows off my improving cover-solving skills and gets a case of painful late-era Jim Balent breasts.

Please note that the size of the breasts is not the problem. Please.

Seriously. Those ladies don’t look comfy anymore. Those breasts aren’t just defying gravity, they seem to have been replaced with rounded lightning rods or something. Catwoman #74, one of Jim Balent’s last issues on the series (his final regular issue is #77).

Bit less chatty this week (yay effects of stress!), but I do have a complete story arc to offer this week, and one of the last ones of Jim Balent’s run on Catwoman. This arc is also one of the last non-crossover-involved stories from Catwoman’s first solo series (which is technically volume two because someone at DC unfortunately decided to call the four issue mini-story Her Sister’s Keeper/Catwoman 1989 volume one). The series actually ends with issue 94, but Balent’s run ends with issue 74 and both the No Man’s Land and Officer Down crossover events happen after this point in Catwoman’s solo series (with the non-crossover “women in prison” arc during Bronwyn Carlton’s closing run on the series actually providing set-up for the Bat-book-wide Officer Down event).

Unfortunately, this story arc has a case of … odd art going on with the interiors, but on the positive side – both the Joker and Catwoman have a case of the Escher Girls going on in Catwoman #63, 1998, written by Devin Grayson and drawn by, of course, Jim Balent:

Seriously. The guy just doesn't look right.

Catwoman still has some of the classic Balent expressiveness to her face here, but the bad puns and bad body art seem to be spoiling her mood. As is being captured by the Joker. Although maybe his angular spine will kill him before he can do anything to her.

Also interesting to note is that this story arc is by Devin Grayson, one of the three female writers the first solo series had, along with Jo Duffy (first fourteen issues of Catwoman’s first solo series) and Bronwyn Carlton (thirteen issues, leading up to a three-issue finale by a different writer). Devin Grayson had eighteen regular issues of the series (plus one of the annuals, which I highly recommend – fun pulp-y one-off) and … Catwoman has a motorcycle in Catwoman #64, 1999, written by Devin Grayson and drawn by Jim Balent:

Also, that is one funky looking Joker there.

On the plus side, it is an action packed cover. On the downside, the late era Balent art might do Catwoman in before the rocket-launching motorcycle does.

Last issue of this story arc and for those interested on the numbers for the info I gave in the previous paragraph, this means 45 out of 94 regular issues of Catwoman’s very first solo series (yes, it took that long and no, they still haven’t put it out in trades) were written by women. With varying degrees of quality, but that’s a pretty darn good gender split and good sized runs for each of those writers. Less good is the cover and interior art for the final issue, Catwoman #65, 1999, written by Devin Grayson and drawn by a Jim Balent forgetting he had some understanding of how breasts work and a great talent for expressive faces and dynamic poses:

Seriously. The only early letter is one thanking Balent for reducing Catwoman's breast size. Seriously. And from a guy.

Seriously. The guy did have a lot of talent, and the early letter columns are filled with compliments on how much personality he drew Catwoman with, not with comments about her breasts, despite the amount of joking that goes on now about Jim Balent’s tenure on the series.

And now for the answer key …

Make sure you’re ready …

Are you done looking and trying?

Okay, here you go!

Too many clowns. Too many.

This is not the friendliest of covers if you have vision problems (or even if you don’t), but the cat in this one is hiding atop one of the buttons/bulls-eyes on the clown next to Catwoman.

Yeah. Still not actually that easy.

This one took two weeks to solve, but it’s actually easier than the busy cover allows it to be. Or, at least, the hidden cat is fairly big this time. It’s just hidden in the dust cloud behind two characters on motorcycles and surrounded by exploding rockets.

Cufflinks is a cute way to hide the cat.

On the plus side, it’s really obvious Catwoman has boobs? Otherwise, I’m not terribly impressed by this cover. The cat is hidden as a cuff link on Catwoman’s Joker outfit though, and apparently has a matching twin on the other sleeve (only just noticed it as I was typing this caption).

And that’s it for this week’s Sunday Fun Day. Hopefully it was fun and informative, or at least one of the two. 🙂 Next week I might venture into No Man’s Land, which is probably a fair warning for the quality of the crossover and its art, which is the last before Jim Balent left his position as series artist.

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