Still Looking Back at Year 8: Kitty Ex MachinaSeptember 22, 2011
“Okay. Look, boys, if what you’re after in this world is validation of your bad girl identity after a marathon fuck-over by a sleazy tabloid, then cooking up something with Lex Luthor that leaves Batman and Superman speechless is the motherlode. And I’m sure I’d be enjoying it a lot more if I knew what the hell it is. What’s so special about this three companies that Luthor being after their files turns you two into the World’s Palest?”
-Catwoman, War of the Poses
War of the Poses might just be the richest Cat-Tale in the series. First, there’s Luthor. In Cat-Tales as in the DCU, Lex Luthor’s ultimate ambition was fulfilled: he became President of the United States. And in Cat-Tales as in the DCU, it ended… badly. He lost the office, his fortune, and for a time back during the Infinite Crisis of String Theory, his sanity. But in WoP, he was back and he had a plan. It was a really good plan too. That’s the kicker. A Gotham-Metropolis alliance like the one that worked so well for Batman and Superman, joining forces with the Big Bad of Gotham City, the Boss of the Gotham Underworld… if only he wasn’t trying to join forces with Batman’s girlfriend.
Catwoman’s first meeting with Luthor is… well, it’s echt Selina and echt Luthor:
You’re an interesting creature,” he said at last. “For one of those who wears—well, why be circumspect—who wears a mask and the costume of a professional wrestler, one hears that you are remarkably sane.”
Catwoman’s lips curled slightly. Not a threatening smile, but hardly a warm one.
“And for one who wears a tie and the costume of an undertaker, one hears you’re remarkably rude, Lex.”
“Touché. My point was merely that I believe one can make a deal with you, Catwoman, and expect you to hold up your end. Not decide at the critical hour to go on a murderous rampage in a jam factory instead.”
“Not unless the jam starts it,” she said brightly. “Seriously, Lex, may I remind you that we have done business before and I was not the one who failed to hold up my end of the bargain?”
It was Luthor’s turn to smile. He did enjoy when a negotiation went according to plan. Catwoman might wear a preposterous outfit, but her thinking was rational and therefore predictable. If one could overlook the cat ears, it was quite like negotiating any other business deal.
“You refer to my declining to pay you for the Lex-Wing job,” he said magnanimously. “I recall the incident, of course. I also recall that you got paid all the same. You had the resourcefulness to get your money. In my view, that means you are entitled to it.”
“Survival of the fittest.”
“Enrichment of the fittest, Catwoman. Mere survival is for wage slaves and spotted owls.”
Catwoman burst out laughing.
“It must’ve been hell for you being president, Lex. ‘Wage slaves and spotted owls?’ This is what built up all those years having to pretend you care?”
“Flying out of the Oval Office in a space suit that looked like a Tylenol capsule decked out for Mardi Gras, buzzing Dupont Circle hopped up on venom and challenging Batman to a fist fight”
Things get a lot more interesting once Superman arrives on the scene, and Lex’s plans begin to unfold. Cat-Tales is seldom as action-driven as the comics, but the Batman/Superman adventure at the World Bank would definitely give the panels a run for their money. And the Kitty Ex Machina conclusion might just be my favorite Batman/Catwoman exchange in Book 5…
Batman’s tone and manner changed as he tapped the side of his cowl. “OraCom activate. Private channel metro-one-alpha. Do you read?”
“You can’t be serious. It’s like Luthor stacked the entire table of elements over our heads. Even I can’t tell how much steel, lead, and who knows what is up there but—”
“Private channel metro-one-beta. Do you read? That’s why I installed a special signal booster. Private channel metro-two-alpha…”
“You planned on getting stuck down here?” Superman gaped.
“It was always a possibility. Private channel metro-three-alpha…”
“~~~~~andsom~ ~~~avri~~~~itty~~~~~~” sounded in his earpiece.
“There she is,” Batman noted. “Lock in metro-three-alpha, shutdown all nonessential operations, enhance signal, all parameters.”
“B~~m~an~~~~~ad~me~~~st met with Lex and ~~~~m the works, ke~to decrypt~~~~~lans~~~n hog heaven, it was disgus~~~ng~~~~~~sch an obnoxious troll~~~ ~~~ ~~nwa~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~pected you’d be~~~ack b~~ow.”
“We were delayed. We’re trapped in the vault.”
“~~~ault? th~~~~~one under the –~~~~ank? Yo~~~ill there?”
“Yes. We’re going to need you to take out the time locks.”
“Th~~im~~~ocks? In Met~~~~olis? ~~~~~ant me t~~~~~ to Me~~~~li~~~~~~~~~~~~ime locks fo~~”
“Either that, or we’re stuck until the bank opens for business on Monday.”
“Wel~~~ow suppo~~~~~et there?”
“Transport to the Watchtower. J’onn is expecting you. He’ll send you on to the transport station at the Daily Planet.”
“~~~~oing~~~~claim villainess privilege and~~~ay no.”
But for all that, for ALL THAT, it’s not even the main story that is best remembered from War of the Poses. It’s a minor subplot, with Batgirl, sweet adorable Cassie, learning some new stealth techniques from Selina and getting just a little carried away trying them out at the museum until, well, I’ll let her explain…
Father would give twenty lashes and lock in dark closet for day. Maybe two day.
Was first principle of sustained surveillance: mind clock. Surveillance is dead time. Must mind clock else lose track of time.
Practicing stealth in museum not like sustained surveillance. Not dead time. But still lose track of time.
Was exciting. Lose track of time.
Lights come on.
Guard in uniform gone. New guard in blue blazer jacket take place.
Shoes that not quiet on stone floor.
People in shoes that no need be quiet.
People that work in museum.
Museum open. Soon be people everywhere. This bad.
Isn’t she cute? Deadly as all hell, but really cute.
Anyway, those are some of my favorite bits from War of the Poses. You can read the complete story and download print and ebook versions from the Cat-Tales website.