Posted by: Abhay Khosla on September 22, 2011
So, after looking at these images– and/or having stared longingly, however you want to phrase it… (and not having read any other comics lately to write about for this site since I’m not really reading comics at the moment, for various my-time-is-limited reasons not worth getting into here)… but so, yeah: I have questions.
Here’s an image of one panel, courtesy of Scans_Daily—
Question One. When Catwoman says “Still… it doesn’t take long…“, what does that line mean exactly? Is she… Is she implying that The Batman orgasms really fast, like right away, like maybe even in his bat-underwear?
My point is The Batman’s not Superman– the very fact he’s not invincible is what makes him The Batman instead of Superman, right? So if we agree that’s the fundamental appeal of The Batman is his inherent vulnerability, then maybe The Batman having a problem with premature ejaculation, maybe that makes him ever more The Batman.
And since this is a thing that happens in real life– since you know and I know that people have definitely, definitely, definitely dressed up in those costumes and had sex in the bathroom of comic conventions, at least Dragon*Con because that one’s in Hotlanta and the heat and the sweat and the Bat-a-rangs, it’s probably just like that movie Body Heat except ever so slightly more Batmanish… when that happens in real life, do you think teasing the Bat-ears is a thing that, like, the guy actively requests? “Play with the Bat-ears.” Am I the only one who hears that in their head when they look at that image? And also: how do I stop hearing that oh god how do i stop hearing it?
Question Three. Here we have the cliffhanger of the comic, which is The Batman having his nipples played with. Why are people who create Bat-comics so fixated on his nipples?
The classic Neal Adams shot– The Batman, shirtless, nipples surrounded by thick swaths of chest hair…
… to the present, with Chris Sprouse and Grant Morrison, and nipples. At the outset of his run, Morrison promised fans a return to the “hairy-chested love god” years of Adams, Bat-nipples thus pivotal to the early promotional efforts for his run…
Can you think of any major film franchise that has ever been as defined by its main character’s nipples as Batman has? Think of poor Joel Schumacher. If you google “Schumacher” and “Batman” and “nipple,” you get 241,000 results. If you google “Schumacher” and “Tigerland” (i.e. the Veitnam-era drama that Schumacher directed, in which he arguably discovered Colin Farrell)… I only get 140,000 results. Joel Schumacher’s entire film career has Batman’s nipples inexorably at its center, like a tittified Scylla and Charybdis. (If Joel Schumacher has a third nipple, let’s agree to call it Rudolph).
At what point when you’re deep in the Batman mythology, deep in the lore, at what point does the siren song of The Batman’s nipples drag you to a watery grave? I ask you.
I note here, for the record, that when The Batman was defeated by Bane in the 90’s, the Knightfall creators were certain to show you Bane’s nipples on the comics’ cover, as if to suggest that only a villain with larger nipples than Batman was man enough to defeat The Batman.
Question Four. If you have a problem with this scene, if you’re not a fan of this scene– if this were drawn better and written better, would this have worked for you? Is the problem for you one of CONCEPT or EXECUTION? In the words of Val Kilmer in the Oscar-winning film Real Genius, “would you qualify that as a launch problem or a design problem?”
(My pet theory is that for a sex scene in comics, you want to go with smaller panels. See, Chaykin’s work in American Flagg #3, your better scenes from Guido Crepax, Fantastic Four #23, the Steranko Nick Fury/Contessa scene, etc. Pet theory. Creepy, creepy pet theory.)
Question Five. As part of this whole DC-Nu 52, whatever this is called, this is probably one of the most heavily advertised and promoted comics that Judd Winick has written in recent memory, since at least 2000’s Pedro & Me. Every issue of the DC-Nu launch titles is being reviewed a million times over, by every comic site under the sun, this one included. Plus, video interviews on MTV‘s website (“We’re getting back to the essence of what Catwoman is“)(?). Plus, TV commercials, media coverage, etc. And yet, in response to that opportunity, this is the direction Winick went in– exploitation fare that might get a certain kind of fan talking, rather than attempting to sell himself as a writer of any substance.
Question: if Winick tomorrow were to try to launch a serious, artistic series, after his career at DC, after material like the foregoing, an original series which he tried to sell as the effort of a quote-unquote “real” writer, would you be willing to … to “believe” him?
You know, Winick’s doing his job. This will probably sell some comics– it’s my recollection that there was a decent-sized audience in the 90’s for sexy crap, and since most of the DC relaunch is rooted in the 90’s aesthetic… Heck, might work; might work. But can you put your name on this kind of thing and remain untainted by it? A lot of people in comics– they’re doing the jobs of selling comics. Sometimes, maybe that job’s not so pretty. To be honest, I think of Judd Winick as being a joke… but maybe I think that based upon material that to some extent calls for him to be a joke…? Are you able to separate that out when– when they ask you to? I know with other people, I’ve struggled with that; I’ve had that reaction of “Oh, now you really mean it; well, ain’t I lucky“, and so.
But this is how the guy used this bigger stage he’s on, so maybe any ambition in Winick died a long time ago; maybe the question is moot. On the other hand, he states in interviews that the defining characteristic of his writing is “edginess” (!), so maybe hope springs eternal.
Related: when you imagine them creating this scene, do you imagine those inset panels zooming in on Batman’s hand were in some kind of script, all typed out, or added in by an artist trying to find ways to “spice up” the scene? Which is worse? Is there any way to say that one of those things is worse than the other in this particular case?
Question Six. Why does the Batman have to be such a shitty fuck-buddy to Catwoman? “Angry” and “gives in”–? Why can’t the Batman just be a fucking cool bro, like Ashton Kutcher in that one movie, instead of hate-fucking broken girls?
Is it that fans want The Batman to, like, punish crime with his cock?
Question Seven. So, we have some images that seem to have been designed to “get people talking“, and here I am talking about them. To what extent am I complicit? To what extent have I tainted myself by association? With every “you’re wasting all of our time creating worthless shit” greeted with “the fact you care we make terrible shit incessantly is proof that we’ve done the job of making you care,” how much am I myself guilty of distracting you from your life?