Archive for the ‘general’ 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 that 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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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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#CoughDidItFirst THEME PARK EDITION – The Catworthy jewelers is now a thing. WB themepark has a jewelry store based on Catwoman

October 15, 2018

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#CoughDidItFirst THEME PARK EDITION – The Catworthy jewelers is now a thing. According to The Thrillist’s video on the Warner World theme park in Abu Dhabi, the Gotham area has a “Catwoman-themed jewelry store based on the famous cat burglar.” Jim Balent’s Catwoman too.

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A jeweler’s billboard advertising its wares as “Catworthy” became a fixture in Cat-Tales Gotham in the Book 3 story An Iceberg Tale.

You know, the world-class jewel thief who was never caught, rather than the small time bottom-feeding loser so many writers have served up since.

So, I know it’s way over in Abu Dhabi but how the f- does this leak through on something DC/WB did on purpose? Who signed off on this? And can I, like, buy them a steak or send a bottle of wine or something?

 

 

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Catwoman: Her Own Law

October 2, 2018

In Cat-Tales: Gifts, Selina is found in the Museum of Modern Art before her first bachelorette night, “before the De Groupil that only she recognized as a series of joyous cat-scratches.”  The artist’s name was a shoutout to Erwan Le Goupil, AKA Entropist, who contributed The Real Gotham to our gallery last year.

Today, the Cat-Tales Gallery is privileged to reveal Le Goupil’s breathtaking and powerful new Catwoman portrait that evokes the Alex Ross Superman (and could easily be a variant cover for Cat-Tales: Not My Kink).

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Batrimony: The Video

June 29, 2018

Ladies and Gentlemen, for the first time may I present Mr & Mrs Bruce Wayne, the Variant Covers:

The Buyers’ Guide record of all the variant covers created for Batman 50, the wedding issue, with details of who is exclusive to where, edition size and links for purchase whenever available is located at BruceAndSelina.com, maintained by Cat-Tales.

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Batman-as-Sherlock Holmes Tale TRICK OR TREAT reveals new Gorey-ised Cover for Halloween

October 31, 2017

Homaging the original horror-influenced but pastel-colored artwork by Lady Dien, the new cover for Cat-Tales: Trick or Treat has gone full Edward Gorey with an evocative black-and-white palette and textured etching off a well-aged plate:

Batman as Sherlock Holmes in Cat-Tales: Trick or Treat, with Selina Kyle, Alfred Pennyworth, Talia al Ghul, Edward Nigma

Batman as Sherlock Holmes in Cat-Tales: Trick or Treat

 

It’s a Halloween at an Exhibit celebrating the Mystery Whodunit at the Folklore Museum, and all is not as it seems…

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The Secret Life of Crime Chocolate

October 9, 2017

Pure Nacional Cacao, the thought-be-extinct chocolate we saw in NMK Inc is, as most of you know, a real thing.  Though associated with Ecuador, the trees that it turned out were still with us were found in the Marañón River Canyon of Peru, and it’s Peru that cultivated new trees from that precious stock to produce Fortunato No 4. While this stuff is pricey, $20-40 a bar when I was researching NMK, it’s not absurdly, catastrophically expensive like, say, the $1000 sundae at Serendipity 3.

I mention this because CNBC has a video on it… sorta.

The 'crime chocolate' from Cat-Tales NMK Inc is a real thing

“The thing is—and I really hope you’ll see the funny here—the fact is, Bruce, these are sort of… crime chocolates.” – Selina Kyle, NMK Inc.

Ecuador seems to have got its hands on enough trees for a small crop, and we can assume they either paid more than they can ever recoup, or they assume being the original source of Nacional Cacao, they can hike up the price for the added cache.

Their chocolate, according to CNBC, goes for $345 a bite. (Note the lack of a decimal?) For “a little under 2 ounces” that comes to $6.16/a gram. In contrast, two bite-size “ingots” of Fortunato No 4 from Patricia’s Chocolate in Michigan goes for… $3.80. (See the decimal?) That comes out to $0.24 /gram.

So enjoy the vid, but be aware if tasting this stuff is on your bucket list, there’s a world full of chocolatiers listed on the Marañón website where ethically sourced Fortunato No 4 can be had for the price of a cheese slice at Grimaldi’s.

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