Wednesday, January 04, 2012

One more thing about that skeevy sex scene in September's Catwoman #1

A couple of months ago I wrote at some length about the extremely skeevy but attention-getting splash-page ending of DC's Catwoman #1, in which writer Judd Winick and artist Guillem March had Batman and Catwoman totally doing it in a gross, awkward sex scene (Above).

By way of disparaging the lack of subtlety in Winick and March's scene, I compared it to a Batman sex scene in another comic.

Here's what I wrote then:
Even All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder, one of the least subtle comics of the 21st century, by Frank Miller and Jim Lee, two creators no one would ever accuse of being too subtle, had a scene of Batman having costumed super-sex with a fellow super-type, and that was infinitely more subtle.
At the time, I hadn't yet read Frank Miller's original graphic novel Holy Terror (it was released in October), but, it turns out, that that book also features a Batman/Catwoman sex scene that is much, much, much more subtly staged than the one in Catwoman #1. (Above: A post-coital conversation from the "We keep our masks on...It's better that way" scene from Miller and Lee's All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder).

Holy Terror opens, after the obnoxious, inflammatory, out-of-context two-page quote, with Miller's Batman analogue The Fixer pursuing his Catwoman analogue Natlie Stack. He's trying to arrest her after she stole a diamond bracelet. When he finally catches up with her, they fight.

She kicks him square in the area, then kicks him in the face, and that slashes his face with her claws. He punchers her in face. This goes on for another page. After recovering from that last punch, she jumps lips first onto The Fixer: Then things get weird.

On the next page, the two tumble, still kissing, backwards off a roof, until The Fixer lands head first on another roof with a "KRUNK" and, on the next page the continue to fall, and The Fixer is slammed into a wall ("WHUDD."). He stands up and punches Natlie in the gut, but at this point, she's already talking about the sex scene to come. "It's not like we planned this," she narrates as they roll around, still fighting. "We didn't even know we wanted it. It was just a slow night. That's all."

On the following page, Fixer punches her in the ace again for good measure, and they do what is apparently their version of flirting (She: "I hate your guts. You make me sick." Him: "Sure I do.")

Then: And can you guess what happens in the next panel?

This?No. Don't be silly.

Frank Miller, the guy who just wrote a scary weird, almost ten-page long scene where two people brutalize one another between kisses, in a comic book about how Islam is a religion of terror, pulls away from the two fetish freaks just as they are about to copulate, so the next page is a long shot of some "Empire City" architecture, and we just see the silhouette of Fixer's cape and Stack's hand (he's on top now), and her narration repeats, "Just a slow night. That's all."

The next page is an even longer long shot of buildings in the distance, with clouds made my fingers smudging ink on the white page, and the rhythmic repetition of "That's all. That's all."

And then, finally, this page: Miller conveys the sex through the repeating narration, that phrase spaced out and given a certain amount of time to occupy by being placed in individual narration boxes and in different consecutive panels (Even though he's suggesting the sex with the words instead of the pictures—at least in those two pages, between the last two splash pages I scanned aboe—it's an effect that couldn't be achieved in straight prose, as the writer can't control the passage of time the way a cartoonist can through panels of artwork).

The next page features a bomb packed with nails exploding, the first of many terrorist attacks that rock Empire City and lead to the Not-Batman vs. Terrorists plot that is Holy Terror's real subject matter.

So hang your heads in shame, People Who Made Catwoman #1, because Frank Miller did a more subtle, more artful, more elegant, even—dare I say it?—more classy comic book scene in which Batman and Catwoman fuck. Frank Miller. In Holy Terror.

You have to try reeeeaaaalllllly hard to lose that kind of contest, guys.



It's rather remarkable how many times the former seems to echo the latter, at least in Miller's staging:

Okay! Now I'm off to take two showers! One to wash away that skeevy Batman/Catwoman sex scene in Catwoman, and then another to wash away the disgusted feeling I get when reading Holy Terror. If you need to cleanse your eyes and mind, I'd recommend revisiting David Brothers' series of essays on Miller's Batman, one entry of which I borrowed/swiped a few of the scanned ASBaRtBW panels from.

1 comment:

ToB said...

Good post. Not much about the DCnU is subtle. I think that's the point. I don't know if this reflects the limits of the people dreaming this stuff up (Johns, for example, has in the past shown signs of understanding continuity much better than the DCnU dump continuity fest). Or perhaps this is due to some larger plan, where the heroes are in a universe that is more violent, marred, corrupted. Several nU characters have been shown freely killing their opponnets. Maybe there is a reason for this, although of course in the short term, it is a cheap sales grab to the LCD of reader.