Sunday, December 30, 2012

Catwoman #15

I'm pretty sure every writer that mentions The Black Diamond in their comic book received a bonus from DC. "We don't care how you do it! Make this Eclipso shit popular!"

Why such a huge boner for Eclipso, DC? This "Black Diamond Probability" crossover has really just been a story in Team 7 about Eclipso with a few other comic books barely related to that story. The best uses of the Black Diamond so far have been in comic books that weren't labeled "The Black Diamond Probability." Like Demon Knights #15 where we learn where the Black Diamond was brought up from Hell by Lucifer's pawn, the banished Amazon Exoristos! Why wasn't that labeled?! The people actually interested in Eclipso will never know how the Diamond came to Earth! The Black Diamond gets a mention in Amethyst as well when a member of House Citrine is debriefing Amethyst's mom about her time on Earth. That seems like a logical tie-in, does it not? Gemworld? Black Diamond? See where I'm going with this?

And now Catwoman. This makes sense because Catwoman is a jewel thief and a cat burglar and batman's booty call. That last part fits in because Batman call's Catwoman's asshole his "Black Diamond." By the way, what is Catwoman going to steal? The Black Diamond hasn't been in one piece for a long time. This must be the biggest piece left although I have a feeling the Black Diamond grows like a crystal since the island that Team 7 is currently on (where Eclipso lives!) has cliffs made of Black Diamond. Oh well. This story takes place five or six years after the Team 7 battling Eclipso story, so maybe all of the Black Diamond pieces have been glued back together by Alex Fairchild.

The issue begins with Selina running people over on her new motorcycle. She pulls up beside Gwen who must have taken a job as Selina's mom. The conversation goes something like this:

Selina Kyle (not her real name!): "Why so mad? Jelly? Ain't a ho got a right to splurge on something other than her clients? That's a sick squirting joke, bitch!"
Gwen: "Okay, slut. But you are not going anywhere dressed like a non-existent stereotype that nobody has ever heard of ever!"
Selina: "Thanks dude! That's the look I was after!"
Gwen: "Let's get to that rich kid's party that I found out about via the Social Media Site That Cannot Be Named So I'll Call It By A Name That's One Letter Off. Do you want to go to Suncash for some coffee first? Hold up a second, let me upload some songs on my jPod."
Selina: "Hey girlfriend! Do you ever have one of those "uncomfortable days"?
Gwen: "I'm having one right now! *scratch scratch scratch*"
Selina: "Well try splashing some of this on your girl: Tom DeFalco! Clean you right up, home fritter!"

Well, that was an awkwardly placed Tom DeFalco is a douche joke. Anyway, Gwen and Selina arrive at some rich kid's party to rob the place blind.

You're right, Gwen! What was I thinking as a young person reading books, biking the Santa Cruz mountains, and playing Dungeons and Dragons! What an idiot! With all of that energy, I should have been curing cancer! Boy was I stupid!

Of course I didn't cure cancer last decade in my thirties either. When am I going to get smart and grow up? You know the best part about reading my comic book blog? I'm getting to that mid-life crisis age where I should be breaking down into some existential crisis soon and y'all will get to read about the entire train wreck as it happens! Whoo whoo! Climb aboard! First stop: What the fuck have I done with my life station!

Gwen did her research on what this family spends their millions on and it's apparently sex toys.

That solid gold french tickler belonged to Louis the XVI and probably was stolen from The Red Room where General J.E.B. Stuart would occasionally try it on to impress his soldiers.

Gwen and Selina are caught stealing by some punks with guns who offer to have sex with them. Is rape at gunpoint an offer? Maybe I used the wrong word. But seeing as how they're threatening Catwoman (or yeah! Threat!), I'm not too worried about how this encounter is going to turn out. It's pretty obvious.

Oh. I thought Batman was going to save her.

This issue of Catwoman is teaching me a whole lot about sex! Apparently I'm supposed to load my penis before using it? If I don't load it first, does that mean I can't get my partner pregnant? I mean if my partner is a female! I mean if my partner is a female human!

This issue of Catwoman is possibly one of the first comic books to actually be earning its Teen Plus rating. Not that I fucking care about ratings! Oh, speaking of ratings, if you're young, you probably shouldn't be reading my commentaries! We talk a lot about adult stuff here that you couldn't possibly understand because you're just not mature enough to really enjoy it. Like black coffee as opposed to those sugar drinks you kids like. Or hard alcohol as opposed to those fruity concoctions and wine coolers and Coors Lightses. Or rim jobs as opposed to hand jobs. These tastes need to be cultivated over time. So it's not that I think young people can't read my commentary. I just don't think you'll enjoy it as much. You might think you do! But you don't! Listen to your elders and go read a Scooby Doo comic book!

I wonder how many people who read my commentaries are actually older than me? I'm 41 and I just assume that everyone reading this shit on Tumblr is 12. I hope I don't end up in a cell with a glass of hemlock for this shit.

Somehow I fell off track because I forgot I wanted to mention the statue of the guy with the giant cock in the background and the dildos on the shelf! Those are why this comic is earning its Teen Plus rating. At least in America. I think in Europe those are standard objects on family mantles everywhere.

This next panel might explain (MIGHT!) a bit about what's going on in this story and why it's been so overtly sexualized to this point.

Ann Nocenti is older than even me so I know her dropping the phrase "Fear of Flying" is simply dripping with allusion and meaning.

Fear of Flying is a novel by Erica Jong and it's all about female sexuality and one woman's search to discover where her own beliefs lie within the convoluted societal portrayal of fucking and monogamy and a woman's role in the wet and messy dance. I've only ever read excerpts and it's been a long fucking time even then (15 years?! older than some of you!), so I can't really speak on the book much. But a writer, especially a woman of Nocenti's age (she was 16 when the book appeared in 1973), doesn't use that phrase without the entire novel standing right behind it. Selina is taking a bit of a cheap shot at Gwen's sense of spontaneity and adventure and (since everything about this job so far has been sexualized) her sexual attitudes as well. Gwen knows it which is why she simply says, "Shut up."

Having only been privy to Ann Nocenti's writing during The New 52, I'm not sure if she'll continue with this theme or she just wanted to make a bit of a statement here about Selina and her strength in every fucking area of life. No doubt Selina can handle anything. But The Black Diamond Probability part of the story hasn't even begun yet, so this might all just be a minor prelude that goes nowhere. From what I've read so far of Nocenti, I've got to believe this isn't going to mean anything to the larger story. It's really not a bad scene except that it suffers from what her other "not a bad scene" scenes suffer from: the writing is generally way over the top and the dialogue feels like the characters are constantly quoting a wikipedia article. Speaking of Wikipedia articles, here's a link to Fear of Flying! I link to this because Catwoman is always unzipped and now her mention of the book gives that an entirely different meaning.

I should also mention that the panel above happens after Selina and Gwen just jumped out of the window at the top of the building and safely swung down on a rope Catwoman had tied around her waist just as Detective Alvarez shows up and doesn't notice the rope hanging from the building. And one last panel to end this mini-adventure. This takes place just after the Doorman threatens to report these two trespassing women to Detective Alvarez.

She bribes him with a double sided diamond dildo. And look at that smile on his face! Selina can read her men!

After her successful job stealing sexual artifacts, she pays a visit to the orphan she pulled out of the Pawn Costume in Joker's big game of Roof Chess.

Merry Christmas!

Afterward, Catwoman returns to Trip Winter for another assignment. If I went to temp agency and they sent me on an assignment where I ended up naked and abused and nearly torn to bits and run over by an ice truck and manhandled by a guy with a face stapled to his face, I probably wouldn't go back to that agency for another job. But then I'm not Catwoman and she did make no money on the Joker gig. Maybe she made a lot of money on it. I think she was paid up front since it wasn't about stealing stuff it was just about moving gigantic chess pieces. I guess the risk versus reward was exactly what she was looking for.

While visiting Trip Winter, Catwoman nearly has sex but Trip Winter is completely appalled by her.

"Oh god the sex! It is too desirable!"

I don't think he's flinging himself away from her in that panel. I think he's having an orgasm. Hell, he lasted longer than I would alone in a motel room with Catwoman!

The job Trip Winter has for Selina is to steal The Black Diamond out of A.R.G.U.S.'s Black Room. Oh fuck! No problem! The best way to do that is to go in as someone nobody at ARGUS has ever seen before and convince them that you're an expert with the smarts! The best way to do that is to put on some glasses, put your hair back in a pony tail and wear a bunch of frumpy layers to hide all of your sexy layers.

I forgot about the nerd chic cat purse and the horrendous name.

Like most analogies, Selina's doesn't hold water here. She should say, "Would I call you, Sergeant Major, 'Tom Bedoit'?" Or, um, whatever his actual name is. If I ever use an analogy in my commentaries, I'm probably doing so out of humor and hilariousness (if I might be so bold as to categorize my own work as such!). Usually people only use analogies because their side of the debate has too many points of attack. So they'll say, "Murdering your parents is like rubbing the tummy of a puppy!" Because murdering your parents would almost universally be seen as a bad thing but if they describe it as rubbing the tummy of a puppy, the person debating them would look like a jerk to condemn that!

Catwoman, sorry, Professor Catwoman is allowed free range in the nerd section of ARGUS. She meets up with some Dungeon Master named Darwin and they ogle old maps that just the mention of make Hitler's rotting penis erect. And then some other weird stuff happens that is too weird for the artist to convey so Darwin has to narrate it as it happens.

I wish more comics were done in this style! Every panel could be the back of a bystander's head as the person explains what they're seeing. "Omigod! Superman is now punching Darkseid in the wiener! And Wonder Woman's boobs are jiggling so much! And that fish guy just shoved a giant fork into Darkseid's head! Now Batman is going to do what Batman trained for:telling everyone how to defeat the bad guy! And they all work together and do it! Way to go, Batman!"

Darwin then mentions that the Black Diamond is the biggest Black Diamond in the universe (how the fuck does he know that? Fucking exaggerator!). He also says it might possibly be from Hell (it is!) which distracts Catwoman enough to get her to rant about how the proof that there is no hell is that this guy's name is Darwin. She really does have an attention problem, doesn't she?

And then there is a double splash page that just makes me angry. I know I shouldn't be since the shot of The Black Room in this comic book matches up to The Black Room portrayed in DC's Free Comic Book Day Comic (that I still need to do commentary on!). But over in G.I. Combat's Haunted Tank story, they call the place where the Haunted Tank is kept The Red Room. The Black Room is for mysterious mystical artifacts and The Red Room is for unknown known unknown not known things. Or something. I fucking forget. Anyway, it was established there were two distinct rooms. But I have to believe that G.I. Combat fucked it up since that comic book only lasted eight issues.

But that's not the only problem! In the Free Comic Book Comic, Pandora mentioned seeing the Black Diamond. But if it's in a safe, how did she see it? Also, in the picture of The Black Room in the Free Comic Book Comic, under a tarp there is what looks like the big diamond that houses Eclipso in Team 7 #3. A small corner is uncovered and it really looks like that although I could be wrong. But that matches up better with Pandora having seen it than this "it's in a safe nonsense."

Anyway, somehow Darwin and Catwoman walk into the Black Room from the Cartography Room. Nonsense but we'll go with it. Then Catwoman begins asking about all the shit in the room and Darwin gives her a nonsensical tour as Ann Nocenti has him just make shit up. But why is he in The Black Room with her anyway? Was he suddenly mesmerized by her tight fitting catsuit as she lost the frumpy clothes and the fake nose? And Catwoman rebuffs all of his explanations of the things in the room as if she asked, "Help me find something that I can fight with?" instead of "What is all this junk?" He finally tells her about a sword that cuts monsters and she decides to go with that. I don't know how much any of the items he mentions have to do with real or historical people or places but I'm pretty sure that none of the items reference anything in DC's history. That would usually be the way to go especially with a place as important as The Black Room which houses all of DC's weird and wonderful stuff from the Preboot that might not fit in anywhere now but writers can't help mentioning.

Then from out of nowhere, the reader is shoved violently into the mind of Darwin. This might be one of those zipless fucks Erica Jong was talking about!

She never once called you "Dudwin", Douchewin!

Darwin just Narration Boxes a few panels to let the reader know what items were being damaged by the bullets ricocheting off of the safe that DOES NOT CONTAIN THE BLACK DIAMOND! But then it's all okay because I'm comfortably back in the mind of Catwoman where everything is cozy and familiar.

Hey! That sounds like a personal remark about my obsession with playing Call of Duty and my girlfriend's need to rely on her Eighteenth Century Solid Gold French Tickler Steam Powered Vibrator! Put me back in Darwin's thought boxes!

Catwoman suddenly begins acting strangely (having been "Eclipsed" at this point) and finally begins calling Darwin "Dudwin." So either editorial decided that other page should be moved forward in the story or Ann Nocenti wrote the "calling him Dudwin" line and then thought that was a good idea! Darwin believes the evil in the room is making Catwoman act weird and he believes the evil influence is also why he let her in because he wanted to see the artifacts too. It still doesn't explain how he let her in or why only these handful of guards are currently trying to stop the intruder.
As is typical in an Ann Nocenti comic (remember that bit about the weird dialogue earlier), Catwoman begins over explaining her tricks.

"Ever hear of an uppercut? That's where I swing from down low and connect with your chin as my fist is on its way up! I'm the upper crust of the uppercut! Ever hear of a left jab? That's a quick punch with your left fist that gives up strength for speed! I was right to choose my left!"

So Catwoman beats up the guards and acts goofy and ignores Darwin and fails at picking the lock. So she wishes she can just cut it open and that magic sword flies into her hands. And you can read the last page yourself because I am done with this thing.

I hope the black arm of Dan Donelly gets its own comic book. Look him up in Wikipedia as well, if you'd like. It's Ann Nocenti's idea stomping ground. I'm pretty sure she just hits "random page" for her story ideas. She may or may not be a walrus.

Catwoman #15 Rating: -2 Ranking. There were so many messed up bits in this comic book that any editor at DC could have taken care of with just a quick read through of the comic. The main one is that Eclipso's Black Diamond was definitely not kept in a safe in the Black Room. Another one is the mess Ann Nocenti makes of the artifacts in The Black Room. She just grabs ideas that may be linked historically to some name or item but have no relevance in the DC Universe at all. The Black Arm of Dan Donnelly? Go read his Wikipedia page and you'll see why she added that. But it has no context in the DC Universe at all! "The Plutonium Sphere!" "The Mogi-Antiky Thera!" "The Duke of Qin's Bo Bell!" "The Devil's Codex!" "The Snow Globes!" "The Monster Cutter of Dojigiri Yasutsuna!" Maybe she just didn't get the go ahead to name any real DC items in The Black Room so she just made up a bunch of shit that nobody will remember. Good work!

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