Thursday, June 6, 2013

Catwoman Annual #1

Do gang wars still make for interesting stories? The last gang war I was interested in reading about was written in 1594.

The Penguin Gang War begins in the Badlands of Gotham City. They're called the Badlands because they're composed of land that has gone bad. It happens when too many dead people are buried in one place. The soil spoils. And then everything develops this psychic funk and only poor people and criminals are hardy enough to live there. Bruce Wayne would love to buy up all of the old buildings and turn them into condominiums and make a huge profit while displacing hundreds of poor residents, but he can't do it because the land has gone so bad. Not one rich person would invest in the property. It must work that way or else Batman would have already bought up all this great land that's not earning its potential due to government subsidized housing.

So the Penguin Gang is involved in this war because the missiles that are bearing down on the Rat Tales (Woo-ooo!) gang member are shaped and painted like little penguins. They're practically penguns! As these penguin missiles are flying (Ann Nocenti! Penguins can't fly! Sheesh!) through the air, Catwoman is swinging into town using her whip like a Batgrapple. Fuck, why not? Everybody else in Gotham swings from building to building. In the background, a suspicious ice cream truck delivers ice cream to kids and other highly suspicious activities. Who would bring their ice cream truck into the Badlands?! Worst business owner ever! But probably a good undercover assassin and/or police officer!

I hope Ann Nocenti informs us of an urban legend about sneakers on wires while passing it off as a fact!

And on the next page, she does! I know you so well, my lovely little Annie-poo.

I like how she leads with the myths but then covers her bases with the reality of it. "Ever wonder why cars drive around without their headlights on? It's because they want to kill you when you flash them. Or they're drunk. But most of the time, they just forgot." "Ever wonder why you see sweaters in the gutter? Because people throw them there sometimes!"

I was hit by a car once and I kept my shoes on because I'm a fucking rebel.

Back to Catwoman, I guess she came to the Badlands because she's tired of stealing shit and she wants to get into the social welfare game. She's going to save these Rat-Tales (Woo-ooo!) whether they want saving or not! This one kid didn't need saving though because he was like a car on black ice! That means he was out of control, in case you didn't get the reference. Ann Nocenti didn't think you would get the reference so she over-explained it so I thought I would over-explain it as well! I probably have dumber readers than she does, so I can never be too careful! I don't want to confuse any of you. Am I typing too fast?

Oh! Here's why Catwoman was in the Badlands in her own meows!

I wonder who knows Catwoman's cell phone number? I wonder where Catwoman keeps her cell phone? Probably in her boobs. I mean boots! I meant boots! Once when I was Captain Cold and I was throwing a large get-together in my secret ice lair, Blossom of the Power Puff Girls (Age 28, from the future) told Death of The Endless that she should come down stairs to see her boots. But Samurai Stickman thought she said "boobs" and almost killed himself when he rushed down the stairs to get a glimpse and slipped on a patch of ice. How many warnings does a super villain have to give his guests? I'm Captain Fucking Cold, Motherfuckers! Watch your step!

The Rat Tales (Woo-oo!) leader asks Catwoman to be his Second (which means the guy that will drive the car for him if he gets conked on the head while picking up a penny) but Catwoman describes how she's at a point in her life where she feels working by herself is in the best interests of everybody. Then they run from the police giggling and screaming.

"Later at the Gotham City Police Department Headquarters," Detective Alvarez and Detective I Hate Poor People argue about whether to beat up on some poor kids or ask them some questions. Either way, they want information on why people in tuxedos are beating up on Rat Tales (Woo-oo!). And when I say they "argue," I actually mean they each hold one side of two different conversations while raising their voices and pointing at each other. Maybe they really aren't talking to each other! Maybe they're both wearing bluetooth devices in the ear that I can't see because it's on the side of the panel facing away from the reader.

Even though Alvarez didn't say anything about talking to anyone, they are using each others' names. And if this were dialogue from Keith Giffen, I'd probably let it slide because it does make sense if you want to ignore all of the other times that two people speak at instead of to each other in Nocenti's books.

Selina is back at her apartment watching the live feed from the camera she stuck under Alvarez's desk. Luckily she's not simply getting more crotch shots of Alvarez as he masturbates during lunch. This time she struck gold! She gets to hear all the leads the cops have on this gang war case!

"NO! NO! Don't put your Trench Coat of Silence over the camera, you cigar smoking twat!"

I guess since it's a comic book, once Harvey blocks the camera, Selina can no longer read their speech bubbles. So now she's going to have to find her own lead on this case!

Selina doesn't get to hear Bullock's conclusion that the men in nice outfits are The Penguin's men and that means The Penguin is behind all the shoes hanging from all the wires. She also misses Detective Poor People Are Assholes do her best police work when she claims Catwoman is the prime suspect in the murder! I think her main evidence is "look at the size of her tits." She doesn't say that but it's a compelling argument.

Oh! I forgot the theme song for this issue:

Life is like a wrecked train! Here in Gotham!
Murderers and the insane! It's a bedlam!
Might meet the Batman! He'll kick your ass, man!

Butt Fails! (BRRRRT BRRT!)
Every time I watch this show my butt fails! (BRRRRT BRRT!)
Oops, I think I meant to say the Rat Tales! (Squee-eeek!)

That's all the theme song it gets. Two stanzas. I almost said one stanza and one refrain but it's not really a refrain if I never re frain it!

Meanwhile The Penguin has built another penguin shaped rocket that only homes in on Catwoman shaped objects! And he's telling Gwen about it because Gwen's the most likely person to tell Catwoman! Wait. That sounds like a bad plan! I must not know the important part of the plan that relies on Gwen telling Catwoman that The Penguin is a mean jerk-faced butthole.

Oh look! There they go again, explaining their reasons after I've already done all of my speculation! I'm glad I already speculated about him being a jerk-faced butthole because I nailed that one! Hmm, that sounds uncomfortable.

The Penguin also hires Hypnoto for some reason or another. I also don't think his name is actually Hypnoto but I can't remember what it is. I think he's one of the new mob bosses like Gas Flask Head and Mr. Toxicity. Those aren't their real names either.

Meanwhile in the Gotham City Police Department Headquarter's Morgue (whew!) Detective Poor People Stink is still trying to frame the murder on Catwoman. But the Cadaverologist informs them that the recent dead Rat Tale (Woo-oo!) died from mysterious wounds. Which is a total lie because the things he says in his first speech bubble don't add up and make it seem like an incomprehensible mystery! It's only when he reaches his third speech bubble that he reveals he's a master of the false set-up and actually has seen these mortal wounds before! That's when Bullock jumps in and starts trying to pin the murder on the person he wants to be the murderer, The Penguin! It's like each detective just picks somebody at random and then tries to make the facts fit so they can convict their pony. Boy, wouldn't it be crazy if this is how real police work were done!


That beat there was to give you time to tilt your head to the side and think, "But that's the way it is done!" and then to realize that that's what I meant and then to rerealize that I'm just s stupid idiot for thinking it because you're an internet reader and every reaction you have must be equal and opposite to my reaction! It's like a universal law to prove how the reader is more intelligent than the writer. That's why forums exist! So writers can always be told that they're stupid morons!

But we need it! Because every writer knows they're better and smarter and less dumb and not quite as stupid as everybody else ever! It's why that whole "books are better than television" lie continues to persist. If you write "Books are better than television," it must be true because writing is smart! But television can't announce that books are dumb because books already own that stratagem. Except now the world is full of nearly two grown generations that only read the internet and everybody knows the internet is even dumber than television!

Now my feelings are hurt! I'm so stupid. I read Catwoman, therefore I'm dumb.

Oh shit! Before I distracted myself, I was going to scan this panel with Bullock:

And to think I refrained from calling you a fat fuck earlier! I opted for "twat" instead. You, sir, are the pot smoker calling the kettle chip eater fat.

And then I solve the case because I knew no Ice Cream man would be fucking driving around the Badlands with all that cash and sweet, sweet cream! He's the fucking murderer! It's the Ice Cream Man! Don't stop him when he's passing by! Because he'll kill you!

Now is the part where I gather everybody into the room to tell them how I solved the murder. See, it goes like this. I saw the ice cream man in a bad neighborhood. But ice cream men never go into bad neighborhoods! That was my first clue! My second clue was the black Popsicle Detective Burn the Poor Neighborhoods Down was eating. I noticed this because I had to wonder: "Who the fuck eats black Popsicles?" And my third clue was the dead woman in the morgue! The Cadaverologist pointed out that she had eaten something black just before dying! And while she is poor and she might have been eating feces, the other clues point to something different! Something sinister! Delicious Death Delivered Daily! THE ICE CREAM MAN COMETH! I think there is a fourth clue as well in that a minority of penguins (albeit the most popular ones!) like ice and cold and snow and Ice Cream is best made with ice and cold and sno-cones. And maybe a fifth clue in that the name of the story is "Black Ice." But I can't count that clue since the characters don't have access to it! Now, do I have to read the rest of this annual now that I figured out how The Penguin is killing everyone?

Detective Alvarez and his partner, Detective 1%er, begin canvassing the Badlands to ask witnesses questions. And just when everyone is conveniently mentioning the Ice Cream Truck, it tears around the corner firing bullets and shooting missile pops! I think I also heard it mumble, "I would have gotten away with it if not for those pesky homeless guys!" Although I think it's just a coincidence and the Ice Cream Truck was coming by to kill the earlier victim's last known relative. That Ice Cream Truck can really hold a fucking grudge.

Worst detective ever! "The murderer weighed half a ton, was eight feet tall, white, and went 'ding a ling a ling'. It must be Catwoman!" Maybe if Catwoman wore white, I might think the description was close enough. Insulting, maybe! But close enough!

After Catwoman disarms the police, she tells them they should investigate the Black Ice. Oh! Well my fucking mistake! I guess Catwoman can read the titles of the comic book!

Now Catwoman just has to not get blown up. She finds a girl named Alice that lives "down under" to build a cape that deflects drones or something. Catwoman makes a point of wondering about the "down under" place Alice lives. I suppose she lives down with the goblin that was disappointed to see Catwoman leaving the Arkham Sewers so soon. This Alice is a whiz at making steampunk gadgets because the "down under" probably only ever advanced to steam technologies based on the venting pipes they live amongst. It totally makes sense and I can't wait until Catwoman has a grand adventure in the "Down Under" where she'll probably have a sexual liaison with the Cheshire Cat.

Now Catwoman decides to stand on top of a roof and thinks nonsense.

Excuse me: thinks poetry.

Once the missile homes in on Catwoman, she tries to shoot it with her gun that programs it to go back home. But the gun doesn't work. So Catwoman seduces the missile to buy time so she can call Alice and find out what's wrong with the gun. Dammit! I didn't get to see where she kept her phone! Anyway, Alice asks if Catwoman took off the safety.

Oh, fuck you, Alice! Why the hell would this gun need a safety?! Hmm, don't want it accidentally going off and shooting yourself in the vagina, causing your vagina to no longer want dick! Is that how it works? I wonder what would happen if I shot my butt with it?

Anyway, Catwoman shoots the missile and it gives up and heads home, blowing the crap out of The Penguin's henchmen and his cuffs.

There she goes! Acting like a Batperson again!

Catwoman swings into The Penguin's rooftop drone control headquarters where the Evil Ice Cream Truck is parked. I know why it's parked on the roof! So that Catwoman can have access to the Black Ice Popsicles and try to force The Penguin to eat one! But I don't know HOW it's parked up there! What an inconvenient place to store it! But then Ann Nocenti doesn't seem to understand that cars drive mostly at street level. She's the one that had The Joker driving a truck on some girders. And now the Evil Ice Cream Truck parks in a rooftop garage. Only the best for The Penguin's murdering vehicles! I love comic books with whimsy but shit in my mouth and call me Honey Wagon, I can't accept Looney Tunes levels of whimsy! The Ice Cream Truck isn't so bad. The Penguin is an odd duck. I get it. He likes to park on the top floor or the roof! But The Joker's truck that drives on girders of unfinished skyscrapers was pretty silly.

Catwoman can do a lot of things but she fails at the easiest thing in the world: getting The Penguin to eat! Instead, Catwoman is tackled by The Penguin's thugs and forced to look at Mr. Hypnoto! She's frozen and shackled and brought to The Penguin's aviary for another edition of Ann Nocenti's Knowledge Fun Farm!

"Hello children! What time is it?! I said what fucking time is it, you stupid bastards! Sorry, sorry. Aunt Ann had a bad day today. I learned that baby eagles have to fight to the death because the mother eagle is too lazy to care for two chicks! I know, it's harsh, isn't it? Now you see why Aunt Ann has a drinking problem and cusses a lot. She's really angry at Mother Nature's cruelty, kids. Hey! I've got an idea! Any brothers and sisters out there? Want to ease your parents' burden? How about we start a new feature on Ann Nocenti's Knowledge Fun Farm called 'Fight to the Death so Mom Doesn't Have to Work so Hard!' Why should humans be above Pandas?! You know what Pandas do, don't you, kids? They throw one cub away if they bear two! That was a pun, you ungrateful shits! But Guinea Hens are the most like humans! They try to outrun their lovely burdens! Isn't nature awesome in its majesty? Now fuck off while Aunt Ann cries in her coffee flavored vodka, you Goddamned runts."

The Penguin obviously has selfish reasons for wanting nature to treat runts differently. So he tries to explain to Catwoman how he isn't big or powerful or good looking but he has other skills. And it really hurts the illusion that he isn't just an overblown runt eagle when Catwoman goes around stealing his mother's jewels and not paying him kickbacks. She can understand that, can't she? I mean, she's a cat and all so she's kind of above all of this. But can't she just play along so the other crime bosses don't suddenly stop and think, "What the fuck are we afraid of The Penguin for?!"

The Penguin tries to bond with Catwoman over being a couple of freaks who desperately needed their mother's love and attention but Catwoman gets hung up on pointing out some thing called Original Trauma. I think I blew my Knowledge Fun Farm facts too early!

Is "freak" technical jargon?

Because The Penguin doesn't get to the point quickly enough because he has so many, many fun facts to give away, Catwoman manages to hypnotize everybody with Mr. Hypnoto's Hypno-hypnotic powers! Then she chokes, kicks, and beats them for good measure before she threatens The Penguin to leave her alone and makes her escape. On the way out of The Penguin's Aviary, she notices another one of those Rook Statues that lead to the Down Under! I can't fucking wait for that story!

Penguin's actions drive Catwoman to work with the Rat Tales (Woo-oo!) while The Penguin decides a full out war on Catwoman and the Badlands is what this comic book needs. Detective I Hate This Detective decides to harass Catwoman as much as she can because she can't solve her case. And Bullock brings the Black Ice Toxicology reports to Mayor Hady whose probably in on the drug scam and will bury the evidence. And all this excitement is just the beginning! Stay tuned for more Knowledge Fun Farm Fun Facts in Catwoman #21!

Catwoman Annual #1 Rating: Autoerotic Original Trauma. That may or may not be a good thing. I suppose it's all about perspective.

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