Friday, May 23, 2008

The Long Road Home: Part 1 (DC)
Catwoman #78 When: June 2008
Why: Will Pfeifer How: David López

The Story So Far...
After a spate of especially violent superhuman crimes, the secreted United Nations agency called Checkmate set about plans to 'relocate' the world's super powered criminals on a distant planet called, Salvation.

Amanda Waller leads the initiative with her group of reformed and controlled criminals, the Suicide Squad, in an effort to round-up the powers, and redistribute them with the use of Apokoliptian Boom Tube technology.

Catwoman finds herself among those trapped on the hell planet, which is actually a training ground for the New Gods. Populated by deadly and malicious creatures designed to harden those trained there, Catwoman has much to contend with, not only the wildlife, but also arch enemies like Hammer and Sickle...

Tale of the Tape...
ARTWORK: JustinianoARTWORK: Darwyn CookeStrength: Cheetah 4 (Enhanced)
Intelligence: Catwoman 3 (Professor)
Speed: Cheetah 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Draw 4 (Athlete)
Agility: Cheetah 5 (Cat-like)
Fighting Ability: Catwoman 4 (Trained)
Energy Power: 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.

History: Catwoman (1-0-0)
The Math: Cheetah Ranking: Catwoman (#21)

What Went Down...
Alone on a planet populated by murderers and madmen, Catwoman finds herself face-to-face with her Russian arch-enemies, Hammer and Sickle. Ever the survivalist, Catwoman convinces them her alliance with Lex Luthor can get them off the planet, but only if she can convince the All-American Luthor to aid the tandem of Russian super-soldiers.

The Russians prove less than invested in their role as Catwoman's super-muscle when Cheetah descends on the trio while they overlook Lex Luthor's camp. Tensions between the feline-themed ladies had built over previous encounters.

Forced to fend for herself; Catwoman finds herself physically overwhelmed by her stronger opponent, who pins her to the ground before slamming her head into the stone underfoot. Cheetah prepares to toss her foe to the villains below, but the incredibly agile Catwoman is able to swing out of the press position, using her momentum to drive Cheetah's arm into a jarring slam.

Suffering a broken wing, Cheetah is too distracted to defend herself from Catwoman's preemptive assault. A rock serves as a makeshift equaliser, Catwoman wielding it as a weapon she breaks across Cheetah's face, before toppling her with a roundhouse kick.

The rush attack hurts Cheetah, making her increasingly desperate.
Catwoman reaches for the whip, wrapping it around Cheetah's head with a violent crack. Unwilling to go down so easy, Cheetah yanks on the whip, flicking Catwoman over the edge of the cliff. The whip drags both women down, but only one of them is in condition enough to maneuver in the air...

Catwoman rides her attacker to the ground, but the impact fails to put an end to Cheetah's vengeful desires. Catwoman paws at her belt, revealing a cigar marked "J" just as the feline villainess launches herself.

"Any of you *koff* guys see the Joker tell him I said thanks for the cigar."

The explosion puts a punctuated end to the latest installment in the growing rivalry between vixens. The war, however, is but beginning, as Luthor and Catwoman look to the night sky to witness a boom tube open...

ARTWORK: Darwyn CookeThe Hammer...
Ladies and gentlemen, Catwoman officially smoked Cheetah. Oh, come on! What would victory-by-Joker cigar be without a bad joke to close the deal? Ah, to hell with you guys!...

Needless to say, it wasn't the pun that delayed yet another entry in the Infinite Wars. Suffice to say my time's been pretty well booked lately, but I was too excited about the prospect of getting another entry from 2008 up on the Wars, that I just had to push on! What a trooper.

Earlier in the year we featured a previous encounter between these two characters; from the Loeb/Sale mini, Catwoman: When in Rome; as a direct response to the release of this issue that caused a minor stir. It's nice to be able to follow up, because the issue delivers exactly the kind of whip cracking throwdown I had hoped for.

For those who missed it; it was the salacious reception of the Adam Hughes coverart that had many interpreting the lip-biting cover as the latest in a long line of covers that are gratuitous.
While I would accept Hughes has a reputation for provocative artwork, and Catwoman covers have certainly pushed that line; I felt, and feel, this was more fantasy than fact when describing the feral ferociousness of this cover. Suffice to say, it proves an accurate representative of internal materials now detailed.

That's not to say I'm stupid or blind, mind you.
My threshold for embarassment and arousal might be a bit more relaxed than our friends from the United States, but my thoughts did turn to the Comics Fairplay regular feature when spying what is to be the second-to-last cover for this series of the book [Catwoman #81].

Top 25 Ladies
#1 Invisible Woman (Marvel)
#2 Catwoman (DC)
#3 Storm (Marvel)
#4 Rogue (Marvel)
#5 Wonder Woman (DC)
#6 Wasp (Marvel)
#7 Zatanna (DC)
#8 Elektra (Marvel)
#9 Kitty Pryde (Marvel)
#10 Hawkgirl (DC)
#11 Tara (Marvel)
#12 Spitfire (Marvel)
#13 Hellcat (Marvel)
#14 R. Mika (Capcom)
#15 Phoenix (Marvel)
#16 Black Cat (Marvel)
#17 Black Canary (DC)
#18 Black Widow (Marvel)
#19 Lyja (Marvel)
#20 Tabitha Stevens (Marvel)
#21 She-Thing (Marvel)
#22 Powergirl (DC)
#23 Stargirl (DC)
#24 Sayd (DC)
#25 Sakura (Capcom)
I'm no wowser, but if a scene depicting the catsuit clad heroine bent over infront of spotlights isn't gratuitous, I do not know what is! Yeesh!

Food for thought, though that may be, it's actually the impending cancellation of the title that's the real talking point. Upcoming issues bring Selina Kyle back to her stomping grounds of Gotham, but it looks like her return from Salvation will only bring her into conflict with the villains of Gotham, and former-flame, Batman.

Admittedly, between being busy and distracted by other sources, I'm a bit out of the loop, but I just don't know what to expect from the coming months at DC!

Final Crisis has thrown all kinds of theories at the wall! The final chapter of the so-called "Crisis Trilogy" has me feeling everything I've mocked others for. After scoffing notions that Identity or Infinite Crisis were building to a line-wide reboot or fragmented multiverse; I find myself dreading the potential of exactly that.

Catwoman has been confirmed for post-cancellation appearances in Detective Comics, but for a title that's held such a consistent standard for over eighty issues, it seems like a bitter consolation for Will Pfeifer, David Lopez, and fans of the series. It also begs the question of what the future holds for the character.

I have to admit, thoughone of Wonder Woman's few readily identifiable adversaries, I liked the notion of seeing Cheetah and Catwoman continue their acquaintance as rivals. As a supporting character herself, that might be a little too much to ask for, but the baggage Catwoman has accumulated in her solo adventures may yet find it's way to pages inhabited by the Dark Knight, which could make for some very interesting material.

Continuing the theme that seems to have trumped Invincible Iron Month; Cheetah and Catwoman are also prime examples of characters it might be nice to see in the upcoming Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe. The modern Cheetah certainly has qualities sure to appease certain expectations of MK fans.
I'd love to elaborate, but I'm absolutely zonked, so I'll take my leave satisfied with just getting an entry done! Make sure you stay tuned for the various things going on around the site, and keep rocking! More soon!

The Fight: 4.5 The Issue: 5

You'll have to wait a while before preordering the collected edition of this Catwoman story, but there's plenty of other Catwoman goodness on offer in the Infinite Wars: Amazonian Gift Shoppe! Titles reviewed, and recommended, are all available at low prices thanks to Amazon, and by using purchase links provided, you help sponsor future entries in the Infinite Wars! Show your support, check out the many titles on offer, including the series, Salvation Run! Be sure to also check out the urban adventures of the White Ghost in our very own, The Kirby Martin Inquest. At the special price of $1.99 for twenty-two pages of full-size story, it's the perfect time to show your support for resident fledgling (and exhausted) talent, Mike Haseloff!

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