Posts Tagged ‘arkham city’


Keep smiling. It pisses off all the right people.

March 4, 2013

There is an attitude out there, best summed up by a friend of mine:

…the ones who believe Batman is the ultimate incarnation of badassery… who think in the Urban Dictionary next to “Bad ass” there is a picture of Batman… think Batman eats broken glass for breakfast and shits Chuck Norrises.  (Yes, plural.)  Who believe in their hearts and souls that the only reason Batman doesn’t kill is so his enemies can cry into their pillows each night from the knowledge that they will never be as badass as Batman….

But that attitude is not what’s really wrong with the fandom.  The true tragedy are the ones who don’t believe any of that but think it’s necessary for a successful product, who think a portrayal lacking that cynicism masquerading as realism is doomed to fail.  To those poor Faustian bastards I gleefully report that in a year I have spent posting a ludicrous amount of Batman-related material, related to Arkham City, to The Dark Knight Rises, The New 52, and selections old and new from the Cat-Tales fan gallery, the most liked, reblogged and retumbled were these two…

Milla Bishop is the perfect cosplay Catwoman

Milla Bishop: Classic Catwoman

and this bit of lighthearted silliness from Comics Worth Reading.

Valentine’s Day protocol gone horribly, horribly wrong

Any questions?

You know, in 4 days Cat-Tales is going to celebrate it’s 12th anniversary.  That’s 12 years of readers, 12 years of stories – some of which actually inspired some of those readers to write and draw for this storyverse, this vision of the characters specifically.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for those who imprinted on the dystopian nihilism of the 1980s to consider the possibility that what seemed like the alpha and omega then was not a great and lasting vision.  That it is failing to withstand the test of time.  That there are a lot of people out here who, so far from insisting on that grim & gritty ugliness, actually find it a turnoff and a deterrent to buying the product.

Maybe, as we said at my old theatre, it’s time to remember that there are two masks, and only one of them is crying.


Practical Cats

April 11, 2011

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
–Inigno Montoya, The Princess Bride

Best Catwoman Costume is the Jim Balent: Purple and Sexy, brings Batman to his knees, it doesn't get more practical than thatAt some point when DC Comics was still trying to sell their new direction Catwoman comic, they introduced the idea that the goggled costume which debuted at the same time was “more practical” than its predecessors.  Obviously the person putting this forth had never worn a body stocking, leotard or pantyhose, because there’s nothing difficult about putting on form-fitting garments after you’ve done it twice.  And that’s in the real world.  In Catwoman #1, the comic where the Jim Balent costume debuted, Selina manages to get out of her costume and slip into a towel to impersonate the wife of the man she was robbing, then re-costume and slip away with the jewels as soon as he returned to the party and before he can realize his wife is already out there mingling with the guests.  That certainly seems like it must be an easy process to get in and out of costume, but more importantly it illustrates the appeal of Catwoman: the hot cat burglar.  The episode is sexy, it’s brazen, and it’s fun.  That’s half the appeal of Catwoman: men want her, women want to be her.  The illicit fun of being bad—not too bad, not evil, just bad enough for thrills—that’s the woman’s half of the equation.

The men’s half, that’s where the practicality idea really goes off the rails.   Because even if we accepted the idea that the Jim Balent Catwoman was harder to get in and out of, does it deliver benefits that more than make up for the extra trouble?

Answer: Hell yes. 

I was talking to a friend recently about possible Catwoman costumes in Christopher Nolan’s next Batman installment The Dark Knight Rises, and he immediately brought up his ideal for the hot cat burglar: Catherine Zeta-Jones in Entrapment.  “If I was Connery I’d have passed out from blood loss,” he said.  “There wouldn’t be any left to power my brain, that’s for certain.”

And that’s the value of the Balent costume that transcends any notion of practicality.  The rest of the world has to deal with Batman.  100%.  Bat.  Man.   Bruce Wayne, most dangerous man in the world, devotes his life and his fortune to protecting his city and fighting the criminals who prey upon it… Batman.

Selina only has to contend with 1/5 of Batman.  She gets Bruce’s brain on auxiliary power, what’s left to maintain breathing and blood pressure while the rest of him battles the spectacle of a vibrant and beautiful woman poured into skin-tight purple, black thigh boots, silver claws shimmering in the moonlight, a holstered whip at the ready, and eyes you’ll dream about forever, teasing playfully from behind an enigmatic mask.

That, on a Gotham City rooftop, is practical.

Chris Dee

Article first published as Practical Cats on Blogcritics.


The Dressing of Cats is a serious matter…

January 21, 2011

So it’s to be Catwoman and Bane in Dark Knight Rises… Meow!The Definitive History of Catwoman Costumes #1 Anne Hathaway

I haven’t put forth any opinion on Anne Hathaway simply because I know enough about actors to know what I don’t know. If it’s a bad actor (Katie Holmes) you can see a train wreck coming without knowing any particulars of the role. In all other cases, none of us out here have seen enough of most actors to know what they are capable of. You watch Mr. Mom, you would never dream Michael Keaton could play Bruce Wayne. You watch The Doors, you would never that dream Val Kilmer couldn’t. So good luck, Anne! I have already mentioned the je nes se qua of Selina, as I see her, is best seen in Jennifer Ehle’s Eliza Bennet. She is about 120% more alive than the rest of us, there is a core of fun, joy, and good humor that makes a perfect foil to the dour intensity of Mr. Darcy…

Now, performance aside, there has been a certain concern raised about her “Complexity” – non comics folks, let me explain. There is a particular idiocy among a certain subset of comics readers that think cup size is inversely proportional to a complex and sophisticated portrayal of the character. A curvy and bouncy Catwoman that men enjoy looking at can’t possibly be a serious, realistic and complex treatment of the character, because of course, big breasted women don’t exist in nature. Fear not, fellas. What you saw in The Devil Wear’s Prada is creative costuming. Anne Hathaway is plenty lacking in complexity.

So, that’s Anne. The first thing most of my male friends and readers brought up immediately after hearing the casting was – no surprise here– the costume. I can certainly appreciate the desire to start forming that mental picture asap, and since it’s going to be quite a while until we learn anything about the production, let’s have a little survey of Catwoman’s looks over the years.

As all Cat Fans know, Selina made her debut way back in Batman #1 as an uncostumed jewel thief known as The Cat. She was modeled after sex-goddess of the day, Hedy Lamarr, looked smashing in an evening gown, and the first thing Batman noticed was her very shapely legs. Her first “costume”consisted only of a full face furry cat-mask, which wasn’t exactly flattering.

Definitive History of Catwoman Costumes - The Cat

Definitive History of Catwoman Costumes - ClassicAlmost immediately she moved to the Classic Skirted Costume which is most familiar to modern fans from The Brave and the Bold cartoon. It is easily her most enduring look, having been the original costume in the 40s, returning in the 70s and remaining unchanged right up until Crisis on Infinite Earths, returning in numerous Elseworlds and other comic appearances since, and now in the Brave and the Bold and its related games and merchandise.

Now that’s the 4-color world. Up until Batman Returns in 1992, her best known look to non-comics fans was certainly Julie Newmar’s from the 1966 series, which the comics promptly copied, changing only the color.

Definitive History of Catwoman Costumes - Julie Newmar

Definitive History of Catwoman Costumes - Go Go BootsIn comics, the “Go Go Boots” look came next. It seems to be universally known as the Go Go Boots Catwoman despite the fact that the ’60s hair and domino mask version is actually wearing the low ankle boot more often associated with the Classic Skirted Costume. Go figure. In any case, like all bad hair and clothing choices of that period, it was quickly changed and forgotten – a lesson the present comics could learn from, god knows. Admit it was the quaaludes, change it back, and move on.

But back to Julie. I always say that a lot of boys became men watching her in that black catsuit, and in 1992 history repeated itself with Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman. The influence of the ’66 look can easily be seen, and the ’92 was in turn inspiration for Dolce and Gabbana interpretation in Vogue.

Definitive History of Catwoman Costumes - Iconic Body

That bring us, at long last, to the Jim Balent, the iconic look released on the cover of Catwoman #1. This costume drew upon the Classic Skirted Original, obviously, updating it for a more modern flavor while retaining all that connected Catwoman to her Bob Kane, Batman #1 roots.

Definitive History of Catwoman - Jim Balent

Batman the Animated Series wisely adapted it, opting (foolishly, IMO) to recolor for their Gotham palette which erred on the side of black.

Definitive History of Catwoman Costumes - Jim LeeThat brings us up to a present rife with mistakes. The less said of the Halle Berry disaster, the better. The movie was a mistake from start to finish, but more than a few industry watchers have observed that the multi-million dollar fustercluck could have been avoided if DC had admitted the disaster of their Volume II comic. If you put Catwoman on the cover – or the title of a movie – and you do not deliver a Catwoman story or the true Catwoman character within, then you will fail. The Darwyn Cooke goggled costume is a warning sign (Arkham City game designers, take note!) It means “This ain’t Catwoman.” It means you have been taking notes from the comics division which failed because it rejected, ignored, or tried to rewrite the DNA of the character and failed accordingly. Goggles mean you have probably got it wrong. You’re starting with two strikes against you. Even if the look were feline and attractive, you would not want that.

But it’s not feline. It’s based on Aviator Snoopy. I like Charlie Brown, don’t get me wrong. And I like his dog. But Snoopy the dog has nothing to do with Catwoman. So there’s that.

There is also the fact that they look markedly unattractive and bee-like. Jim Lee is the only artist on record who can make them kinda-sorta not nauseating, and he a) had scenes like this to work with, b) got them off her face every chance he could and c) is Jim Lee. Let’s face it, most of you aren’t. Nuff said about the goggles.

What the Nolan movie will do? We’ll have to wait and see, but there is a rich history to draw from. It should be fun seeing what they come up with.

Oops, almost forgot the Cat-Tales news!  A new tale has begun! Trophies from the Latin tropaeum, a prize, memento, or monument to an enemy’s defeat. Of course in the Batcave, it might mean something else.   We’re also just days away from a lifting that “Beta” tag on the iPhone front end, and making the catverse much more accessible to mobile readers (Yes, that means you Android and Windows Phone people too.)

Chris Dee

Thank you for reading. If you are viewing this post anywhere other than The Catitat you are reading a mirror. Please visit the original posting in The Catitat to leave a comment.


West Coast Sunrise

December 28, 2010

Back when Disney bought Marvel, I said “Now we got us a fair fight,” and almost immediately afterwards, I retracted it. Because Disney has always been integrated and focused when it comes to synergy: getting the movies, the toys, the theme parks, the music CDs and the TV shows working together and feeding into each other, which leads to more toys and DVDs and games… Hell, Disney was the first movie studio to embrace television while the others were running scared. Walt used it as an outreach to build interest in his nascent Disneyland project at a time when other studios were still clutching at Cinemascope, Technicolor and 3D to win their losing battle against change.

I said “fair fight” because with the Disney buy, Marvel now had that same corporate synergy muscle as DC did with its parent Time/Warner. I retracted because while Disney has historically known how to use that muscle, TW has not. Well, the Times maybe are a-changing.

There were a couple tantalizing developments in comics news this month. Arkham City released 2 trailers—that was very smart because, while the game is quite a ways out yet, people are shopping for new computers and game systems now. The timing also perfect in order to remind everyone at this festive time of year when our credit cards are out how much we like Batman. Meow.

The interesting thing about the Arkham stuff is the subtextual (and in some cases brazenly textual) thread running through the audience reactions: as long as it’s not from the comic book division, it’s probably good. As long as it’s not comic people behind it. If it’s Nolan or Rocksteady Studios (Arkham Asylum) or the new cartoon The Brave and the Bold or even that live show in the UK, it’s assumed to be fine. It’s assumed to be Batman. If it’s from the comics, the default is that it’s bad. If it’s not, the default is that it’s okay.


Okay, moving on to the second development: Conan O’Brien paid a visit to the Warner Bros lot which is only a few steps outside his studio… and is the home to DC Comics.

*Jim Aparo look of astonishment.*

What’s that? It is? The Warner Brothers lot is the home to DC Comics? Heeeey, it is. Because “DC Comics” is now DC Entertainment, and the last few months have seen an overdue flushing of New York positions and reassigning everything except the comics themselves to the West Coast, under the Warner Bros part of the company in practice as well as in name. A part of the company that… how to put this delicately… knows what it’s doing. Didio’s merry band came up with “Superman walks across America in a hoodie” and “Diana gets a new outfit.”  They were the last major comic company – scratch that, they were the last comic company – to go digital.  Alterna Comics got there first. You could get Jesus Hates Zombies on Android and iTunes while DC was still running plays from that 1972 playbook of theirs.

Team Coco paying a visit to DC Comics home on the Warner Bros lot is huge because, to paraphrase one of those non-subtext critics, the DC whose home is on the West Coast is able to achieve a cross-promo spot on Conan to chat with an animator, drop the names of the Big 3, and plug The Green Lantern. Welcome to the 21st Century, DC. Most of you are going to like it here.

Now then, Cat-Tales update. Well first, I do apologize to all those who rely on this blog for Gifts to Make Your Catwoman Purr for not finding out about nOir Jewelry’s Long Claw ring until a reader informed me. Then again, might be for the best. Now you’ll have something to exchange after you return that iPod-Docking Toilet Paper Dispenser.

The holidays are always a slow season for the tales, so I took advantage of the lull to roll out a few updates. Support for Social Networking is much improved. You can now share, tweet, stumble upon, email, and otherwise distribute individual tales, selected spinoffs, as well as the CT Collection as a whole. Selina decided to answer some reader letters in Ask Catwoman, Random Equinox finished his spinoff Don’t Fear the Z, and oh yes, if you missed Christmas in Gotham, the Cat-Tales Visitor Center will be decked out for the holidays until January 5th.

Chris Dee


Cupsize is not Characterization

November 15, 2010

I’m pretty sure the most popular entry in this blog is the one from late April: Women Lacking Complexity—For SCIENCE! about blogger Jen McCreight’s initiative Boob Quake.  Wow, who would have thought it?  The most popular blog was about tits.

Yes, there are two big issues looming when it comes to women and comics. Seriously, that’s not a rhetorical flourish, there are two. Let’s deal with the D-cups first, because there is a reason they go on the cover: Men like breasts.  A couple months ago, Warner Bros posted screencaps to Arkham City, the sequel to the Arkham Asylum computer game.

The gullible souls who bought into the Brubaker/Cooke scam and continue to believe that flat-chested and short hair are the hallmarks of a dynamic empowered woman started frothing at the mouth: Look at those breasts!  How can it be!  It is the goggle-whore costume we have all been trained to defend as practical no matter how nonsensical the word is as applied to any costume in any comic including the one this displaced.  It is black and not purple, she has no long flowing hair cascading luxuriously out the back of her cowl, how can she have breasts that can be seen without special lenses?! It does not compute.  The horror, the horror!  How dare they defame the good name of Catwoman by giving her a body men will enjoy looking at!

I really had hoped the Iranian cleric that started the whole Boob Quake thing would have woken those silly women up. Because if you buy into the idea that boobs are bad and there is something wrong with men who like them, then you’re standing with Fahas Ahardtime Acceptinghalfthehumanrace-majad.  That doesn’t strike me as very enlightened or feminist, ladies, but hey, you don’t see the problem with the whore/stripper/ambiguous street trash origin, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

For those who aren’t irrevocably committed to the doctrine of Men Suck, let’s briefly revisit why the male of the species like the breasts. I’m sorry Notting Hill fans, there is an actual reason and it’s not “because they’re stupid.” It’s because we’re primates. For a long, long, long, long time, the male approaching a female for mating purposes is looking at a rump. Now fast forward a few million years.  We’re all walking upright. What in the general vicinity of the new eyelevel looks like that? There’s nothing perverse about it. Men are hardwired to notice cleavage. Put it on the cover, they’ll notice your cover. That’s not an automatic sale, but it gets their attention. What you do then is up to you.

Which brings us to the second issue when it comes to women in comics: who they are as opposed to how they look.  Let’s start with a quote from a creative writing forum, which was sent to me after the recent blog on Fridging:

“As it was explained to me by a comics professional years ago at a convention panel on the topic, the vast majority of comic writers are men who simply don’t understand women. Since they don’t understand women (and earn more by churning out stories as quickly as possible), they save time by reducing women to cliched roles as either the girlfriend or the victim.”

I include the elaborate provenance – that this is something told to a reader in a con/panel situation—because there is always the possibility that it is simply not true. That it was given in the context of “Look, we don’t serve up all these rapes and murders because we’re sad little trolls who can only feel like men by bringing down women.”  If that was the tone of the panel, then this could have been presented as a simple expedient.  Rather than debating if there is any palpable difference between murder of Sue Dibny in Identity Crisis and the murder of Duncan in the Scottish play, the above quote diffuses the situation quickly without controversy by playing into the widely held preconception of comics writers as arrested adolescents.

The irony is if that’s true and not an invented excuse, it’s completely unacceptable.  Women are 53% of the population.  You can’t be a professional writer in any medium and “simply not understand” half the human race. You’re going to embarrass yourself, embarrass the idiots who hired you, and you’re going to fail—over and over and over.  So let’s cut these guys a break and reveal the key to writing the kind of female characters that the entire audience will love.  Then everybody will be able do it and that removes “I don’t understand lumpy people” as an excuse.  The following has been said elsewhere, but never as well as by the late Harold Ashman:

“In every classic musical, one of the first three songs belongs to the heroine.  She comes downstage, often sits on a convenient planter or bale of hay, and sings about what she wants from her life.  And the audience falls in love with her… and they spend the next three acts rooting for her to get it.”

It is, honest to god, that simple.  And that complex.  Start with what she wants.  If Cattitude succeeds where other Catwoman origins have failed, it is because it is grounded in what Selina wants from stealing: a restoration of the love and safety she felt as a child, which she came to associate with the wealth and comfort she knew in her parents’ home.  I cannot accept that the ability to pee standing up somehow short-circuits the ability to understand that simple human motivation.  What we want is seldom a function of gender.  The best art and jewel thief in the world comes from privilege and not poverty because the root associations make sense.  If any man wants to step up and explain what in his anatomy screws up his comprehension of something that shampoo simple, I would be fascinated to hear it.

Food, shelter, love, freedom, a sense of self-worth.  None of them have anything to do with reproductive plumbing.  If you “simply don’t’ understand” women, then you simply don’t understand people and if that’s the case, you have no business writing at all.

Now, if you don’t get a particular subset, join the club!  Twilight fans, the gals who take the Sex and the City bus tour, the Real Housewives of anywhere… Don’t ask me, fellas, I’m as confused as you are.

Chris Dee

Originally posted with the title ( . )( . ) for humor.  Edited to the descriptive headline for happier indexing.  Sorry, Google.

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