Comics and women and female characters. That’s my beat. Mostly DC but also Marvel and other places. Says it right on my Twitter bio. And, honestly, this week seemed to be pretty great. Marvel released an X-Men comic by Brian Wood and Olivier Copiel that, I think, will be a change agent for female led superhero books. And then Scott Snyder had his first issue of The Wake, which has a female lead and was also great.
And then there was Justice League of America #4. And well … if you don’t want to know, don’t click.
So this happened, if you haven’t seen it.
Let me start off with the what I think is the most obvious point. Catwoman isn’t dead. I can say that I’m about 99.99999999% sure of this. Why? Because DC (nor Marvel) is going to kill of a character that big without milking it for all it is worth. The CAPISDEADJOHNNYSTORMISDEADDAMIANISDEAD PR blitzs over the past two years tell us this. If there is any way to pump up sales DC and Marvel will find a ways to do it.
So killing off Catwoman and not calling the NY Post to run the news that morning and their LCS to tell them to “over order” to get a sales bump? Not. Going. To. Happen.
And then you have the other clues such as the Catwoman title isn’t canceled and she appears on the cover of other comics, I’m sure you’ve probably seen the various theories the news outlets have posted.
So if that is my most central belief, then the issue of “CATWOMAN WAS FRIDGED” which was the subject of many notes and messages (and indeed many using ALL CAPS) I received this week really isn’t an issue for me.
I’m sure others will have different takes on it, but I’m not even sure that if Catwoman was killed it would be a fridging based on what I’m seeing. Or then again it could be. A lot would depend on the outcome. How was the death used as a plot point? Does it fit my definition of a fridging (which may differ from yours) interpretation of the WiR - female character whose primary role is to be killed or maimed for the express purpose of providing angst for a male character. Of course, if the theory that there are two female characters involved in the Catwoman ID (there have been suggestions in both Nocenti’s Catwoman and Johns’ JLA that there is someone using Selina’s ID) and one of those women are dead, then that would be along the classic lines. Let’s hope that’s not the resolution.
So Catwoman is probably not dead. And if she isn’t dead (or injured) than it probably is not a fridging.
With the out of the way, there’s another question I have to ask myself.
Why does that page bother me? Intellectually I know its a fake-out, I’m not seeing a classic fridging moment. But why do I still look at that page and want to look away? Why does it make me uncomfortable?
Why? Because it’s graphic. There’s blood and well just look at it, there’s someone getting shot at point blank range. And, yes, it’s a woman, but, honestly, I have had just a little too much of real life accounts of men and women and children being shot at point blank range lately to shake this off easily.
So seeing anyone laying there in a pool of blood as in the panel below, fake or not, is give the amount of violence real women suffer makes it really uncomfortable. But beyond that the real issue is that it just seems to up the ante on this grim and gritty and blood and guts that has seemed so pervasive at DC these days for everyone.
Look, I know this comic isn’t for kids. I know that; the publishers know that. And there is always going to be violence in comics. There always has been. The legacy of Batman is imbued with a close range gun shots.
But lately? DC has had a lot of it. And it’s not subtle. It’s becoming overwhelming.
You want an example?
Here’s a fun fact - Guess how many covers of Batgirl have featured a knife? Six out of 23. But to be fair only three had blood on them. And only four had Barbara Gordon being threatened with a knife.
Not one cover. Not two covers.
Enough with the blood and the shootings and the knifes and the gore. A good suggestion in that panel - “Let’s Clean this Mess Up” indeed.
But sadly I don’t think it’s enough for the readers DC is going for these days.
And sales is the focus. We know that. We’re told that over and over again (go read this article on Karen Berger leaving Vertigo for an example).
So where does that leave me? I’m not sure. But that chair tipping over makes a nice tipping point doesn’t it?