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

In the spirit of having having a fun project to do every week and sharing my love of (and occasional horror at – more on that later) ’90s Catwoman, here is the very first Sunday fun day, featuring my/Jim Balent’s very own lady and feline centric version of Where’s Waldo visual puzzles.

And by spoiler I mean, if you try guessing at whether Arizona lives or not, you're probably going to fail.

I could have sworn I found this cat before, but I guess all you get with the cover for Catwoman #2 this week is a slight spoiler regarding the fate of Catwoman’s apartment and her latest ward.

Now, before I proceed any further, yes, Jim Balent really did hide a cat of some sort in every single Catwoman he did during his tenure on the series from 1993 to 2000. Sometimes they are small line drawings of varying degrees of tiny-ness and hidden-ness or they are shadows or statues or actual living felines or something else entirely, but there is always at least one cat somewhere on the cover of an issue of Catwoman during this time period.

This project is intended to give you a chance to look for them yourself while also providing an answer key and what will eventually be an overview of the cover art for the first 77 issues of Catwoman’s first solo series. And, yes, Jim Balent’s art can be baaaaaad. But it can also be quite good, if sometimes trying to push a pose for dramatic effect. Given my ownership of some of the 90s series in print, I can say that the compliments on Balent’s art (at least early in the series) were about how much personality and expressiveness he gave her face and how dynamic the panels and poses were and not about her breasts. So there. 🙂

For week one, I was originally going to give the very first story arc, which sees Catwoman trying to track down a would-be assassin, travelling to Santa Prisca, helping out locals, stopping an assassination attempt on someone else, learning Bane’s true origin story, and generally having a very adventurous bad day and not enjoying operating in a Bane-controlled Gotham. 🙂 However, some of the covers (including #2, pictured near the top of this post) turned out to quite troublesome, so I’ll have to wait on them (and hopefully find I have physical copies of all of that arc).

So, instead, I present the first and last covers Jim Balent did for Catwoman, with the added bonus of a fiendishly hard cover I finally managed to solve.

First (Catwoman #1, 1993, written by Jo Duffy):

Remember when I said people loved Balent's faces early on? That's a big part of why I love this cover so much.

Selina’s debut issue and she’s taking no … hairballs from anyone. Fun heist issue and set up for the new/first (solo) series. It also introduces elements that were fairly (or extremely) consistent for much of the series til Jim Balent gave up this art style – Selina’s boots, which are designed so that she can store her whip in the top of either one (and also have hidden retractable blades in them – the same is true of her gloves) and which are often shown with the whip tucked into them, even in small panels showing Selina moving away from the foreground, and her backpack for storing equipment and stolen items (and for hiding her whip in to use later when unsuspecting guards tell her to put her hands up).

Last (Catwoman #77, 2000, written by John Ostrander):

Seriously. I wouldn't think it was the same artist if I didn't know it was.

Have I mentioned Jim Balent abandoned his original art style for Catwoman and kind of gave up drawing women in okay ways? Yeeaaah. Meet plastic-y, slightly terrifying Catwoman with safety cushioning in case she falls off that robot there.

And the painfully difficult (Catwoman #26, 1995, written by Alan Grant):

Overall I guess the upgraded paper and available colours was good but I almost miss the more newsprint type paper originally used.

I don’t think I own this one and I haven’t read it, but it seems like the Ratcatcher is not amongst Catwoman’s preferred villains to fight. You can also see some of the differences caused by the change in the type of paper used for Catwoman’s comic and the colours available to use on it.

And now for the answer key …

Make sure you’re ready …

Are you done looking and trying?

Okay, here you go!

Easy one first guys!

Circled in purple and pointed to with a purple left arrow, the Sabretooth skeleton on display in the museum on the left side of the page is this issue’s hidden cover cat.

 

Have I mentioned Jim Balent gave up? Severely?

Circled in purple and with another left arrow, this issue’s cat is a pencil drawing on the back of one of Lex Luthor’s robots. Creepy plastic Catwoman doesn’t seem to care though.

 

I am really lucky I own a physical copy of this issue and am familiar enough with Jim Balent's cat pencil drawings to find the cat on this one.

Did I mention this one was difficult? Because this issue’s cat is a teeny tiny line drawing hidden on the wall behind Batman, slightly above two of the many rats swarming our beleaguered heroes.

 

And that’s it for this week’s Sunday fun day, Jim Balent Catwoman style. 🙂 All images of course belong to their proper copyright owners (who will hopefully put out trades of the 90s series some day) and are used for fun review purposes only.

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