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

Trying to push through and salvage a bad chronic pain day by catching up on this feature for the month so far, so, finally, it’s time for Catwoman: Year Two. And for Batman to say, “Cat-nap chop.” I think a less than stellar comic (especially a three-parter that’s trying to follow up to the actually quite good although still very 90s Catwoman: Year One and cache in on the general pattern of Year One issues) can be forgiven a little if it throws something like that in. Especially when it’s an annoyingly serious and stiff Batman saying it. So, head below the cut for Catwoman, Two-Face, and not leaving a good thing alone by stopping at one.

We want to channel Frank Miller's Year One by ... including something the 60s tv Batman would say.

I was going to go back to burning off unsolved covers here but look at it!! So terrible and yet so … cat-nap chop.

This is really … not the most fortunate of comic stories, especially considering that it’s Catwoman’s comic and ostensibly about her, but I will admit it is accidentally hilarious and managing to cheer me up a bit with awkward talks from Alfred about how the feelings Batman is getting when he sees Catwoman are normal and some rather odd facial expressions.

I also got asked about the Batman-Joker dynamic the year I talked at Wondercon about Batman and BDSM.

Also, well, Alfred, never ever try searching Joker+Batman online. I think you’ll find some people disagreeing with you about your last comment.

But, since I wanted to get this second post done and hopefully tuck my achy self in with a bit of reading before bed, on to the covers!

Also, I promise there is a hidden cat on this cover. It's a pain due to the colours and the lack of contrast between some of them, but it's there.

Plus, I’m not sure anything else in the three issue arc can top Batman over-dramatically telling Alfred he gets awkward feelings around Catwoman. Other than cat-nap chop that is.

That one was Catwoman #38, 1996, written by Doug Moench and drawn by Jim Balent? It says it’s him but this is right after issues where he was still doing generally pretty well and, well, nothing about this set of issues is spectacular.

And now Catwoman #39, 1996, written by Doug Moench and still drawn by Jim Balent:

Catwoman Year One did not have this problem.

Someone looks non-plussed at having her series invaded by three other big Bat-villains. You and me both, Catwoman.

Maybe they should have a picnic with Hellhound so they can all vent about her.

Penguin, I’m sorry, but we’re both not done with this story yet. Also, wow, is nobody okay with Catwoman being a woman?

I think he might be.

Also, Joker, are you trying to make an (altered) reference to some of your dialogue from 1989’s Batman movie?

And, finally, Catwoman #40, 1996, written by Doug Moench and drawn by Jim Balent:

If a story's going to be bad, at least make it amusingly bad. Which this seems to be.

In case it’s obvious, this is a story I haven’t read before but from partially reading for the purposes of this post – a) wow is this not very good b) is it just the other big Batvillains and Batman taking over Catwoman’s book and then Two-Face getting mad at her girl cooties and trying to kill her? I think it might be.

You tried comic, you tried.

I can’t figure out whether Two-Face’s line in the first panel is the writer trying too hard or just a coincidence. But, well, “execution of the death sentence,” and both words/phrases are italicized.

And, before I get to the cover answers, I will admit the final page of this arc is pretty good, if making Catwoman perhaps a tad too regretful/sad over being on her own (although this arc is ‘very’ Bat-ship-y, so it makes sense within story):

But the page does still get some nice dialogue in. She just needs to be happy/fine with being a queen without a consort.  Or actively prefer it that way.

It also makes it just a bit too much about Batman. And adds, I think, a touch of “a woman scorned” to her backstory (which this does count as part of) and I don’t quite like that, especially for her character.

And now for the answer key …

Make sure you’re ready …

Are you done looking and trying?

Okay, here you go!

Still hard to see even with directions but it's there.

Yellow! Why’d it have to be yellow?! I mean, the cat is on top of the building to the right of Catwoman’s tail.

She's non-plussed. So non-plussed.

Here, the cat is part of the shadowing on Two-Face’s face. Which is admittedly pretty neat.

Sneaky sneaky Mr. Balent. Sneaky indeed.

The cat is actually shaded into the moon right above where Catwoman’s hair sticks out of her cowl.

And, as a final treat, another interesting page from the first issue of this story arc:

Plus/but Catwoman's a survivor. A consumate survivor. Of course she's going to try to make sure she has financial security. And she's not above playing Robin Hood 'or' working bad people against each other to do it.

I get very peeved when people try to steer Catwoman into a kleptomaniac/steals for the sake of stealing direction, so I’m glad this didn’t quite go there. And it does seem fitting for her character to appreciate the skill and finesse involved in thievery and to segue into doing it for that reason, at least for a time. It also allows for a time period that the later, Ed Brubaker run Catwoman can look back on and regret, because she went from stealing to survive and to take care of herself and her various wards into stealing for reasons other than that.

And that’s it for this week, so, as always, all images belong to their respective copyright holders and are used for fun review purposes only. And next time we get back into the 40s in Balent’s run, which means wobbly art, since Balent left during the 70s and the decline really started in midway through his run, with the covers going first. So … prepare yourselves.

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