Archive for the ‘dc comics’ Category

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Eppur Si Muove

September 21, 2019

The Boat, the Street and What Batman Rebirth Is Really About

(Contains spoilers for Batman 79)

It’s Batman Day, an event I often ignore in the spirit of hard drinkers sitting out New Years Eve, but this year, in light of Batman 79, I am going to break a rule and speak publicly about what Tom King is doing before he’s finished doing it.  Specifically the “We met on a boat”/“We met on the street” debate that’s been inserted into every major event in King’s batcat romance: First Bruce references the boat from the first Catwoman appearance in Batman #1 in 1940, Selina responds with the street, alluding to the 1986 reboot Year One.  Year One is known for introducing a darker, grittier continuity but fewer people grasp the cynical and corrosive nature of its approach which was mistaken for sophisticated mature content at the time.  (That’s not an off-topic aside. Put a pin in it; it will be important later.)

First, as mother said, if you can’t say something nice…  I can be genuinely complimentary about one aspect of this debate’s resolution in Batman 79: The Meta.  Tom King nails meta like a mind honed in counterintelligence; it’s absolutely masterful.  Batman 78, featuring the boat on the opening page, came out first chronologically, in the real world, before 79, just as the 1940’s boat meeting came out decades before Year One.

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The Batman/Catwoman first meetings championed by Bruce and Selina are featured on the first pages of Batman 78 and 79, and there’s a rather nifty bit of meta.

Batman 79, out a week later and featuring the street, contains an editor’s note above the street-related conversation, informing readers that this issue occurred before the events of Batman 77, i.e. like Year One it comes out later than other stories chronologically, in the real world, and writers are flicking on Editorial God Mode to say “No, no, it really happened before other things that you’ve already read, ‘cause we can do that.”  That’s rather a nice bit of meta lawyering bullshit to make everybody right “from a certain point of view,” as Obi Wan says.  It is bullshit, but it’s clever bullshit.  So well done, Mr. King.

The resolution of this squabble is also quite brilliant on a meta level.  Bruce acknowledges that the street happened first and explains that’s exactly why it doesn’t count: he was not yet Batman, she was not Catwoman. It wasn’t until the boat when “my truth met your truth.”  Very nice, but that’s not the ultimate destination.  He goes on: “Maybe I’m more (than that truth)…Maybe we can meet again.  Here.  Now.”  And they agree “We met on the beach.”

And that, folks, is what we call Rebirth.  The first meeting in Batman #1, dead.  The Bruce and Selina of Year One, dead.  And “After what’s happened” as Bruce says, rising from the ashes of those dead continuities, something new is born.  This is the new Batman, the new Catwoman and a new “batcat.”  Welcome to 2019.

That concludes the “something nice.”  Now let’s talk about the problem.  This is some beautiful, elegant meta, but an awful lot of people who read comic books cannot see past the crudest and most literal reading of the biggest picture on the page.  What they see is Miller’s appalling vision of Selina on Page 1 as the price of admission to this issue.  You shall not pass into the beautiful episode that contains the consummation of the new batcat partnership without acknowledging/accepting the abomination.  The meta introduces that creature to reject it, but the people in most need of that message are able to see it validated.

And that is a problem because “rebirth” literally means Renaissance.  Do you know why Christopher Nolan’s Bruce and Selina end up in Florence, Italy at the end of The Dark Knight Rises?

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Christopher Nolan’s Bruce and Selina are last seen in Florence, Italy, the cradle of the Renaissance.

Because it’s the cradle of the Renaissance, the Age of LIGHT that follows the Dark Ages.  That’s where you take a Bruce Wayne that has finally evolved past the Gothic nightmare existence he’s been trapped in: a Batman “as sick as the villains he fights,” a Batman operating out of psychosis instead of selflessness, motivated solely by anger and hate not because he wants to prevent other people suffering the way he did, a Batman who fights because he hates the criminal in front of him not because he loves the city behind him, and the mother of all Simon-simple, you-cannot-believe-these-people-thought-they-were-writing-sophisticated-stories-for-adults ideas: “Bruce Wayne is the mask.”  Them’s the Dark Ages, folks.  “Heroes are sick and not noble” is a medieval mind at the cellular level, and calling the reboot REBIRTH says you are moving on from that.

It says you’re moving on from ‘Might makes right’ and ‘Hope is a lie,’ everyone is born in sin, corrupt and corruptible; tomorrow will be no better than today and there is nothing we can do to make it better.  People are no damn good, life is shit and then we die.  In the rain.

And that appears to be exactly what Tom King is setting up.  Batman’s rebirth is bathed in sunlight…

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…And the Gotham described in these pages and what we’ve seen of the City of Bane encapsulates the Batman universe built on the rock of Frank Miller: “Everyone” sees Gotham as “a flood of chaos,” “a cesspit,” “endless crime waves,” or to use my own phrase: Mordor with street lights.  An absurd level of violence and cruelty for cruelty’s sake that shatters suspension of disbelief in its ludicrous extremes.  And the I-got-mine view of humanity DC has espoused since the Crisis reboot: “So what if people die, if villains ruin their lives. What if they’re all slaves kept in fear… No one gives a damn.”

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… Well, nobody gives a damn except for Green-Shirt Guy, the bat-badass fanboy we all know who thinks it’s awesome that Batman is now a completely homicidal sadistic psychopath.  This is what has taken over Gotham and what Rebirth Bat/Cat are going to fight and reclaim their city from.

Holy shit.

(I mean that. Holy shit.  Tom, if you see this, it would be an honor to buy you a steak dinner and a very, very good scotch for what you’ve laid out here.)

But back to the problem: Rebirth Selina is still stuck with being that creature from the street in her past, and the problem with that is you cannot bring Dark Ages ignorance with you into the Renaissance.  Either you accept that the Earth revolves around the sun—you accept that the Church was wrong, you were taught wrong and everybody you know and admire and wanted to be when you grew up was fucking wrong— or you don’t.  And if you don’t, eppur si muove, it doesn’t change the reality that the Earth does in fact move around the sun and those cynical, fear-based I-got-mine values that have taken over a lot more than Gotham really aren’t working out too well.

The batcat-loving world isn’t going to care, of course.  They got their Bruce/Selina relationship back on track and a maxi series where King’s romance will hold center stage in January 2020.  If they perceive an ideological price, I doubt they’ll give a damn.  Writing Cat-Tales I scratched the itch years ago, so I have some Bat-braincells relatively unaffected by these beautiful pages.  I see what I see.

And I’m truly sorry it’s not a completely unqualified rave, because I believe Tom King is a tremendous writer who takes bold risks and sees them through and shares aspects of himself that few artists dare, and most of the time he does it for an audience a chunk of whom has no idea what’s going on.  King is an extraordinary person and an extraordinary writer. He’s brought that talent and sensibility to Batcat, and that’s unspeakably wonderful.  These two issues are fucking beautiful, and the motifs and melodies of this love song he is composing is, I believe, going to be epoch-making when he’s done.

Happy Batman Day, Tom King, Clay Mann, Jamie Rich and DC Comics.  You’re doing a big thing, maybe not perfectly but you’re doing it damn well.  It takes courage your Bat would be proud of.

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The View from One Police Plaza

July 2, 2019

“We got our wedding bells. Now we have to pay for them…
the universe bites back.”

“The Wedding happened. Everyone rejoice. But this is the Bat+Cat wedding.
All hell has to break loose somewhere…”

“Turning a Chaos God sane for the duration was going to have consequences.”

Bruce and Selina began their married life together in chapter 1 of Mrs. Wayne in a uniquely Bat-honeymoon contrived to protect Batman’s identity.  Remaining in Gotham undercover as the jetsetting thieves Tommy Pearl and Colette while Bruce and Selina are off the grid in some remote Scottish castle, Batman is still able to patrol–which is lucky, for in the last moments of the chapter, a dead body appeared and the killings are only beginning.

In Chapter 2, the focus shifts to the 14th Floor of One Police Plaza–i.e. Commissioner Gordon’s office–as we begin a day in the life of Gotham’s Finest which is about to become a lot more.

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Mrs. Wayne Chapter 2: One-PP is now available on the Cat-Tales website and mobile-friendly mirror Cat-Tales.mobi.

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Sorry, Gotham Times, It Was Very Much Meant to Be

June 18, 2019

Cat-Tales readers were rightly confident that when the advertised wedding tale Ever Fixed echoed the ominous New York Times headline that spoiled Tom King’s headfake on a batcat wedding, history would not repeat itself.  The day the Times story broke, Chris Dee tweeted a message that she’d never broken faith with her readers

and that 17 years buys some leeway.  The wedding did come off without too many hitches, but the mystery of that headline was not explained.

The first chapter of the new tale finds the World’s Greatest Detective delving into the case, but he’ll only get so far before a deadlier mystery presents itself.

The murders are only beginning, and Chapter 2 is coming soon.

Cat-Tales 76 Mrs. Wayne

Bruce and Selina begin their married life together, but a killer stalks Gotham in the first post-wedding tale: Cat-Tale 76: Mrs. Wayne

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It’s International Women’s Day and the Series that Fought Back for Catwoman Turns 18

March 8, 2019

March 8, 2001, Selina Kyle “put her true self on a public stage and let the contrast speak for itself.”

Selina on the stage of the Hijinx Theatre in A Girl's Gotta Protect Her Reputation by Chris Dee

That’s how it’s stated in the most recent story Ever Fixed, just weeks before the series reached the age of majority as the men of DC Comics recapitulated their commitment to an origin that roots the character in poverty and exploitation.

It also happens to be International Women’s Day, a fitting marker for the series that fought back when Catwoman was stripped of her dignity and the privileged background and education that made her Bruce Wayne’s equal.

As is our practice at Cat-Tales, we’re celebrating a milestone with gifts for our readers: the ebook and pdf release of Gifts and Ever Fixed, that’s Cat-Tales 74 and 75 or parts 2 and 3 of the long-awaited Batcat wedding arc at catwoman-cattales.com

Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle marry in Cat-Tales 74: Gifts and Cat-Tales 75: Ever Fixed by Chris Dee, available as ebooks and print-quality pdfs at catwoman-cattales.com

Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle marry in Cat-Tales 74: Gifts and Cat-Tales 75: Ever Fixed by Chris Dee, available as ebooks and print-quality pdfs at catwoman-cattales.com

But more importantly, we’re reminding readers and would-be readers there is a better Catwoman origin out there that rejects DC’s nostalgie de la boue and gives Selina a worthy motivation for being a thief, a motivation grounded in the same basic human needs as set Bruce on his path.

Cattitude by Chris Dee is available for download as an ebook, print-quality pdf and audio book read by the incomparable Caroline Sharp.

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Batman and Catwoman Tie the Knot on the Anniversary of Bruce’s Proposal

January 30, 2019

“The moment we’ve been waiting for. Bruce deserves this wedding. Selina deserves this wedding. We deserve this wedding. And that’s what we’re gonna get, god damn it.” – Cat-Tales Forum

Years before Tom King had Bruce on one knee proposing with Bat-brevity, the long-running Cat-Tales series #CoughDidItFirst at the conclusion of Wayne Rises.  The proposal story, which began in the wake of the Dark Knight Rises giving its Bruce and Selina a Happily Ever After in Florence Italy, wrapped up on January 30, 2013.

If King’s bait and switch accomplished nothing else, it did prompt Cat-Tales scribe Chris Dee to get her Bruce and Selina marching down the aisle.  The wedding arc began in earnest with The Engagement Party

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establishing in a ruthless one-shot that while DC scribes may be afraid of Bruce Wayne’s world of privilege, Cat-Tales is not.  The tale introduced a society writer a la Dominick Dunne who has flitted throughout the story, determined to use Bruce and Selina’s wedding for his comeback novel, and delivering a well deserved education to the likes of Joelle Jones, “denizens of Bludhaven outlet malls” who think wedding dresses on this level are bought off the rack for $28k (assuming the bride pays instead of breaking in through a sewer and rolling around on the floor of the shop.)

What Ford’s ultimate role in the story may be remains to be seen, but he is a prime suspect in the Gotham Times headline mirroring the New York Times Spoiler of Batman 50: Sorry, Bruce, It Wasn’t Meant to Be

times-headline

It’s a testament to the trust Chris Dee has built up with her readers that, despite the years of head fakes from DC Comics, no one lost faith (too much) that Cat-Tales would deliver what it promised.

The last chapter saw Selina survive the murder attempts that have stalked her through the bridal plans and discover who was really behind them, and the story concludes in Ever Fixed Part 4: Just Us.

Though we should mention that the mystery of the Times headline has not been tied up, and Dee indicated on social media that the arc itself continues for 2 more stories.  As with Tom King (Uh oh), the wedding is at the half-way mark.

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Get Me to the Church on Time – Batman and Catwoman’s Wedding Day Begins

January 23, 2019

Bruce and Selina’s wedding day has arrived at last–and tomorrow’s newspaper showed up on the door of Wayne Manor saying it didn’t happen.

part 2 get me to the church on time

What?  You didn’t think a Batman/Catwoman meta-fiction series was going to ignore Tom King’s little… what shall we call it? prank on the Batman fandom?

Ever Fixed by Chris Dee, Part 2: Get Me to the Church on Time  on the main Cat-Tales website and the mobile-friendly mirror Cat-Tales.mobi.

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#Batrimony with a Bow, Your Christmas Gift from Cat-Tales

December 23, 2018

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Yes, the Batrimony is real at Cat-Tales.  Last month the series that #CoughDidItFirst on all of DC Comics advances in the Batman/Catwoman relationship seemed poised to make good on the wedding DC Comics advertised but didn’t deliver.  The introductory chapter of the wedding tale titled Ever-Fixed quietly dropped November 29, and Batcat-watchers speculated if the next installment with the nuptials might arrive for Christmas.

It hasn’t.  Cat-Tales author Chris Dee hinted on Twitter that real life obligations might delay matters, but she’s made up for that disappointment with Chapter 2x, A Christmas Special offering a series of alternative openings for Chapter 2.

” Start Bruce and Selina’s wedding day from a few of the viewpoints Chapter 2 won’t give you… ”  on the Cat-Tales website and mobile-friendly mirror Cat-Tales.mobi

 

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