In the present, Catwoman and Joker bring a little cheer into the world.
In the future, Helena asks her mom a few pertinent questions.
In the past, Bruce Wayne fights the mysterious Phantasm.
This is a story with a lot going on. The fact that there are three related but very different plots, set some thirty years apart, told within an intentionally disjointed narrative renders this series a little bit difficult to digest. It’s not bad, muddled or overwrought, it just takes a little bit of effort to untangle the snarls in the story.
In the future storyline, we were treated to some nice character moments. It was fun to watch Helena doing the Batman thing, with Selena tagging along in a swinging 60’s purple and yellow bathing suit. In the present, we witnessed a conversation between Catwoman and The Joker. The dialogue was tense and revealing, shedding ominous light on both characters.
The scenes in the Past were weaker: when Batman debated ethics with his foe, it was a conversation that we’ve heard many times before, throughout Batty’s long and convoluted history. Unlike, for example, Selena’s revelation that she’s never had a Christmas ornament that she didn’t steal, it added perishingly little to the mythos of the characters.
I got the feeling, reading this, that King had tried to take to heart a criticism that’s been leveled at his work by many critics: the fact that he can’t write women. I think that by focusing hard on Selena, her daughter, and Andrea, he is attempting to do better. And he is doing better. Selena has an inner life, here, one that isn’t always focused on Batman. She is inspired by Bruce, but she is self-motivated. Her conversation with the Joker revealed that, to an extent, she is acting because she wants to act, and not necessarily because she’s been forced into action.
Having said all of that, there are a few problems with this story. It doesn’t pass The Bechdel Test — a measurement which is the bare minimum requirement for stories involving women. Although there are multiple women in this plot, and they do speak together, their conversations are entirely focused on the men in their lives — not merely in terms of romance, but also when it comes to revenge.
There was also an unnecessary ageist joke, directed at Selena’s body, when she met Dick on the roof of the municipal building. Her appearance as an older woman is played for laughs in a way that it wouldn’t have been, had the focus been on an older man.
The art was absolutely gorgeous. Clay Mann’s line work is expressive and dynamic — perfect for the material. The lucidity of his design supported and clarified the story without simplifying it or speaking down to the audience. Tomeu Mory’s colors added depth and really made the characters pop.
Taken together this was a flawed, but deeply interesting story.
Fine art elevates this flawed but deeply interesting story.
Batman/Catwoman #6: Who’s Afraid of The Bechdel Test?
- Writing - 8/108/10
- Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 9.5/109.5/10
- Cover Art - 9/109/10