Monday, February 04, 2008

"Chapter Four: Thursday" (DC)
Catwoman: When in Rome #4 When: March 2005 Why: Jeph Loeb How: Tim Sale

The story so far...
While a killer known only as The Hangman is causing a rift between the crime families and so-called 'freaks' of Gotham; in far off Italy, Catwoman travels to Italy where she hopes to learn more of what might be her history.

Catwoman soon finds herself embroiled in a new realm of organized crime, and a plot against her, as she finds herself beseiged by the powers of the Gotham freaks. Accompanied by the Riddler, Catwoman's only other friend is an Italian assassin known as The Blonde. Together the trio circumvent the wrath of a criminal underworld that believes them responsible for the death their boss, Don Verinni, by Joker poison.

Having taken a job to steal a ring from the fortress that is the Vatican, Catwoman faces her next obstacle when the Cheetah is hired to take her out. It's a colosseum catfight as the two feline foes come head-to-head in a bitter battle to the finish.

Tale of the Tape...
ARTWORK: JustinianoARTWORK: Darwyn CookeStrength: Cheetah 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Catwoman 3 (Straight A)
Speed: Cheetah 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Draw 4 (Athlete)
Agility: Cheetah 5 (Cat-like)
Fighting Ability: Catwoman 4 (Trained Fighter)
Energy Powers: Draw 1 (None)

- Dr. Barbara Ann Minerva was an anthropologist who travelled to Africa to seek out the secrets of a tribe whose guardian is said to possess the powers of a cheetah.

When this guardian is killed by marauders, Minerva steps up to the mantle, but details of the mystic process mean the recipient must be a virgin, which she is not. The irregularity means the mystic powers of the Cheetah become a curse, as Minerva finds herself wracked with pain, and bloodthirsty when in the form of a human-cat.

As Cheetah, Minerva possesses strength, speed, agility surpassing any ordinary human, approaching the levels of the creature from which she takes her name. Her senses are also heightened to comparable levels to the animal.

- Selina Kyle lives a life on the streets, coming to be known as a notorious thief. Her escapades garner much attention, and eventually force the burglar to lay low, where she continues her career in crime as a dominatrix extracting information from potential victims.

Kyle gains extensive training in the martial arts, and inspired by the mysterious vigilante called Batman, adopts her own leather mask and catsuit ensemble to become Catwoman.
As Catwoman, she embarks on a career as an ambiguous entity in the Gotham City landscape. Though regularly acting as a professional burglar and occasional mercenary, Catwoman also comes to be known as a protector of Gotham's East End. She is also known to be romantically involved with Batman.

Catwoman is a highly skilled fighter at peak physical condition, with impressive physical strength, agility, and speed. Catwoman also utilizes weapons including a whip, cat o' nine tails variation, and claws contained within her gloves.

The Math: Cheetah Ranking: Catwoman (#29)

What Went Down...
Having been ambushed, Catwoman finds herself in bondage at the mercy of the super human-mutate, Cheetah. While Cheetah remains distracted by a trinket stolen from the Vatican, Catwoman uses the claws in her glove to work on the rope used to render her helpless. The distraction serves it's purpose.

With Cheetah sufficiently stunned, Catwoman leaps through the surrounding ruins, making a break with the stolen ring, whilst recapping her situation.
Her attack proves insufficient in incapacitating Cheetah, who catches Kyle's boot with her prehensile tail as she does her best to flee. Catwoman lands hard.

Cheetah leaps at the woman she's been hired to kill, only to land on an offensive boot strike from the grounded Catwoman. The two feline themed foes square off again, but Catwoman's offer of a new contract is refused.

Cheetah launches herself into an unrelenting feral attack, leading with taloned fingertips that wrap around Catwoman's throat, and slash at her chest. A break gives Catwoman room to move where she recalls training with Ted Grant, whose philosophy is to put them down, ugly or not.

Catwoman leads with a Wildcat-style boxing combination of proficient punches, but it's the mutated claws of Cheetah that score the killer blow. She buries her finger tips in Catwoman's gut, spreading crimson across the purple leather of her costume.
With her target on the ropes, Cheetah wraps her hand around Catwoman's throat and lifts her into the air with her enhanced strength. She taunts with the prospect of taking Catwoman's name when she's dead.

Despite her injuries, Selina manages to snag Cheetah's wagging tail!

With the tail in hand, she wraps it around the assassin's throat for a double dose of pain. The advantage gives Catwoman the opportunity to wrap herself to a mounted position on the villainness' back, adding extra leverage to the tail garotte.

With victory assured, a shot rings out from the distance -- The Blonde! The Italian assassin, with whom Catwoman has found herself the target of the Mafia, rushes to his ally's aid, revealing the use of a traquilizer, rather than lethal force. Cheetah sleeps. Catwoman wins.

ARTWORK: Darwyn CookeThe Hammer...
Oh my goodness. Well, this entry was supposed to be the final post last month, but it's been consecutively bumped back ever since, because I'm just so damned busy/tired. Ergo, we open the February account with a solid fight back from Catwoman, with The Blonde!

As we wrap up a rollercoaster first month for 2008, it's by no accident that we find ourselves here. I think it's safe to say that as much as any other online commentator, the Infinite Wars indulges in a healthy dose of muckraking. This entry, featuring the uncommon but welcome combination of Catwoman and Cheetah, makes no exception.

Infinite Wars mainstays will know I like to observe the so-called feminist movement, appreciating occasional mention on issue-based linksite, When Fangirls Attack. Like an idiot-grinning charicature of Larry David, I naively like to think of myself as friend to the feminist. I quite enjoy WFA's penchant for keeping readers abreast of all commentary, and sometimes find there to be very interesting and thought-provoking issues raised -- and then, other times, I see slow news days leaving pro-women blogs spinning their wheels. This is probably where the proverbial 'racist dog' ruins it for me.

Case-in-point: Catwoman #78; a Salvation Run tie-in.
If you follow the link, your eyes will quickly be drawn to a graphically vivid thumbnail of cover art by fan-favourite artist, Adam Hughes.

ARTWORK: Adam HughesHughes' reputation, particularly for his pin-up covers for Catwoman, precedes him. I'm not about to argue that Adams isn't well favoured for his penchant for drawing sexy women in provocative poses.
That said, it's with some surprise I note the issue seventy-eight cover drawing allusions to a gratuitous lesbian pin-up. Surprise because, well, to be frank, I'm a heterosexual male!

The first thing I see is not only a bold graphic statement, but a teaser to the presumed fight within. Because, dare we admit it, when you fight someone, you're going to have to get close. Ewwwww cooties~!!!

After a month of Cover to Cover filler, I'm hardly going to begrudge anyone for spinning something out of nothing, but I don't doubt that there are some folk genuinely looking at this cover with distanced distaste. I don't know if this is the forum for it, but as an outsider looking in, that constantly recurring theme of America, and it's awkward relationship with sexuality and repression, rears it's head once more [albeit, as a tangent].

I suppose as capsules that represent the times and events of the United States, it's inevitable that that facet of culture is going to be absorbed. Despite the many artists who inhabit the creative landscape and cultivate a culture of exaggerated themes and reflective storytelling; precedence of outrage date back to the congressional hearings of the fifties, and the fear campaign of the seduction of the innocent. [Those interested in their comics history should do some research on Dr. Fredric Wertham!]

I guess I find fascination in a culture that willingly purveys violence the way most American products do, but has a teetering sensibility where sex is concerned.
I believe it's a popular American -ism to agree: sex sells. Lord knows that's been self-evident in recent months of Infinite Wars with an expected, (and jokingly predicted), spike in Amazon referrals for the Wonder Woman Playboy issue.

Yet, at the same time, I would make the naive assumption that the quantity of American film or comic including artistic or realistic nudity is drastically less than their European or Oriental equivalent. I mean sure, you've got your Jaime Lee Curtis, but then, that's sort of the intriguing contradiction, isn't it?

I don't want to make this an attack on the foibles of the feminist comics bloggers. Really, like most of our entries, this has an elaborate opportunity to feature this particular issue of When in Rome, these particular characters, and have some fat chewing chit-chat about topics floating in the bowl of the comics commentary circuit.

However [aka; but] -- I do tend to wonder, having browsed some of the topics bobbing up lately, if there isn't a misnomer to comics feminism.
I think the very broad context we've just talked about makes it irrefutable fact that there's an issue to be acknowledged; good or bad; of sexism, sexuality, and sexual objectification in comics. The question mark seems to be there when you start looking at specifics that differentiate the debate of quantity of superhero females versus males and similarly compared mortality rates, versus a character called Spider-Bitch.

Given how tired I am at the end of the day, I can't really commit the kind of time necessary to working through the philosophy behind villification versus due course, but it's an interesting subject to have approached.

Like our own operations, I don't doubt for a minute that so-called feminism in comics has become a theme to a blog, much like our theme of fisticuffs. Sometimes that means you're going to be clutching at straws to produce some sort of content, and I suppose that might even mean exaggerating the trivial. I just wonder if it wouldn't hurt the blogosphere to get a healthy dose of context.

On a lighter side of things, being a bit of a superhero ham, I'll probably be looking to try to grab the latest issue of Catwoman. I actually really enjoy the notion of these two characters as rivals, and would enjoy the opportunity to present a fairly interesting rematch here on the Infinite Wars!

Likewise, though uncertain, I eagerly anticipate elaboration on Mark Millar's upcoming return to Wolverine, with Steven McNiven on art chores. The series, which features the mentioned Spider-Bitch, places Wolverine in an Eastwood post-apocalyptic America where the heroes exist only as ghosts, and distorted descendents of the dreams they once represented.

I expect the series to be little more than harmless fun - something Millar is quite capable of, even if there's usually a hint of a bigger picture. I'm expecting a Kingdom Come/DKSA style take on the successor to the Spider-mantle, who exhibits the geek chic all the popular girls love, happily referring to herself as a Bitch in a playful sense, rather than any kind of woman-hating oppresive mantra.

The Fight: 4 The Issue: 5

As is all too often the case, my scanner seems completely incapable of sharing with you the glory of Dave Stewart's colours, which go lengths to compliment Tim Sale's inimitable style! If you like what you see, but want to see more, (and clearer), you can head over to Amazon! By using the links provide, you help the Infinite Wars garner favour from Amazon, which results in kick-backs and hired goon protection!
Amazon have not only When in Rome, but also the collected Dark Victory, from which the Catwoman tale spun out of! Sounds like a double-header, to me! Or for a triple, check out the original story: The Long Halloween!

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