The Batman Adventures #2
Writer: Kelley Puckett
Penciler: Ty Templeton
Inker: Rick Burchett
Colorist: Rick Taylor
Letterer: Tim Harkins
Cover: Ty Templeton
By Erin Bentley
20 May 2009 — Thrills! Action! Romance! Everything you would expect when Batman encounters Catwoman. Alas, in this issue of The Batman Adventures, all we have is royal scandal, character assassination and disappearing make-up. All equally amusing and will be talked about thoroughly in this review, but not even these entertaining topics can save this issue. Strap yourselves in folks; this might be a bumpy ride.
I would like to begin with a simple question: since when are Catwoman's eyes green? Now before anyone starts frantically typing saying her eyes have always been green, allow me to explain. On the cover of this issue there is a thrilling scene with Batman swinging in, and a very surprised Catwoman standing on the ledge of a building. Her eyes are colored green. No just her irises, but the entirety of both eyes; it's as if she's wearing colored lens in her mask, which she does not. This coloring choice could lead readers to believe that Catwoman has been possessed by a demon. But as the story reveals, Catwoman has not been possessed at all. Though, it would have made for a better story if she had.
This brings me to the story itself. It opens with three security guards drinking coffee and telling jokes in the breakroom. Unbeknownst to them, Catwoman has broken into the building, which I am assuming is a jewelry store, and has strung a rope across the doorway. She then proceeds to rifle the jewel case. Suddenly there is a crash, which alerts the security guards to her presence. They rush to apprehend her, but two of them trip over the rope. Catwoman is about to scratch one of them, but the third guard arrives — gun drawn. Catwoman makes her escape when the guard hesitates too long.
That said, I have to wonder at some decisions the colorist made. Firstly, Catwoman's costume is colored blue-grey here, not the standard grey she wears in Batman: The Animated Series. Secondly, there's a weird effect done on the glass case. At first the jewelry that Catwoman is stealing has rubies on a gold chain, but the part of the necklace that Catwoman is holding is pure gold. Looking at the design of the jewelry, it looks like there should be jewels, but the way it's colored makes it look like cheap costume jewelry. What is more, the color of Catwoman's glove changes when it's seen through the glass. This should not be happening; this is a glass case meant to show off jewelry in all its glory. It should not be tinted because it will make the jewelry look dingy, which is bad for business.
Continuing on with the story, Catwoman returns to her apartment and her menagerie of cats. Upon trying on the necklace she just stole, her doorbell rings. The deliveryman leaves a crate for Selina, who reads the attached card: "Turn me on." Rest assured, this note is not from Batman. Opening it up, Selina finds a rather familiar looking contraption. Where have we seen this before? In the last issue of The Batman Adventures, of course. Selina turns on the interactive TV to find an equally familiar shadowed figure. This figure is about to make a proposition to Selina, when someone comes into the room saying, "Hey, Joker, ya got some more hate mail from The Penguin." As the light comes on, Joker shoots his unfortunate lackey.
Okay. Time for more gripes. Where is Maven? Maven is like Selina's Alfred, only treated a little less respectfully. But Maven is not mentioned at all in this issue. Perhaps in a later issue we will find out what happened to her, but for the moment we're left wondering. Furthermore, where is Isis? Isis, of all her cats, is Selina's most precious. She brought Isis with her on burglaries, and nearly died tracking her down in "Cat Scratch Fever," so why is Isis not with Selina now?
Next up, Selina's costume. It does not flatter her at all. In the animated series the grey worked really well. The neutral tone of the costume helped bring out her green eyes, thus giving her a more alluring appearance. But this blue-grey suit that she is drawn in here, quite frankly, it makes her look fat. It accents places that should not be accented — such as her belly and thighs. No woman wants clothing that will make her belly or thighs look bad. Clothes should flatter a woman's figure. And in the case of Selina Kyle, both as a thief and socialite, her clothes should flatter her assets. Selina is supposed to be a gorgeous woman with an impeccable figure, but she's drawn like she has had maybe one too many bonbons. While I am on this fashion kick, up until this point Selina wasn't wearing make-up, then all of a sudden she has both eye shadow and blush on. Then they're gone again.
Getting back to the plot. Once Joker has dispatched his henchman, he proceeds to make an offer to Selina: he asks her to grab a certain trinket, as he puts it, while she steals the Crown Jewels of England. Selina calls him an idiot, but she's clearly intrigued.
I have to ask: why is Catwoman working with The Joker? When this comic hit the shelves, the episode "Almost Got 'Im" aired on TV. In that episode, Joker kidnapped Catwoman and nearly turned her into cat food. Why would she work with someone who has tried to kill her? On another note, Selina is in a different class from The Joker. Yes, she is a thief, but at the same time she has proven herself to be an ally to Batman; she is an antihero, not a villain. Yet in this issue she is treated like a garden-variety villain.
Now for something more positive; I really like the exchange that Gordon and Batman share in a scene directly following the Catwoman / Joker confrontation. Gordon informs Batman that the jewels have been stolen and that the thief has left a calling card — with a bat-emblem. They immediately suspect Catwoman, but there's a hitch: the British authorities want Batman for questioning, too. Gordon informed them that Batman would be in London before he had a chance to hand him over for questioning. Batman thanks Gordon for sticking his neck out for him, to which Gordon replies that Batman keeps making it worth his while. In this scene, they acknowledge that in order to keep Gotham safe, they need to help each other. Gordon keeps the authorities off of Batman's tail, while Batman goes after the most dangerous criminals.
Bruce Wayne arrives in England at the Tower of London, and is greeted by Mr. Helmsley — who I presume is the curator of The Royal Gallery where the jewels were housed. Helmsley is about to show Bruce a gallery within the Tower, which is called The Thomas Wayne Memorial Gallery. I have to admit that I would have liked to have seen the gallery called The Martha Wayne Memorial Gallery, but since everything with Batman / Bruce Wayne is "my father, my father," I have to unwillingly accept it. Bruce asks to take a peek at the scene of the crime, which Helmsley blindly allows — little knowing that he will be coming back as Batman.
I have four quick things to comment on for this portion of the story. Bruce's shirt goes from white to pink between panels. Bruce is thankfully not wearing his frumpy brown suit, but a blue suit. I find Mr. Helmsley to be an annoying character, and am very glad he is only in this one issue. And finally, while Mr. Helmsley is talking to Bruce, he makes mention of a recent scandal that has hit the British Royal Family. This issue was published in November of 1992. About that time, Prince Charles and Princess Diana's martial difficulties were the fodder of gossip magazines around the world. They would officially separate about a month after this issue was published.
Later, Batman perches himself on a windowsill outside the gallery and begins looking for clues. He uses some kind of ultraviolet light to see footprints that have been left on the sill, and from these footprints he calculates the perpetrator's height and weight. Of course, since he already know it's Catwoman, this is pointless. Batman then enters the gallery via a window and begins to take measurements around the display case. He then smiles, having figured out how the jewels were taken. We the readers are not yet privy to this information, but I'm glad to finally see the detective Batman coming through. It's unfortunate, however, that it had to happen in this headache-inducing issue.
Meanwhile, across town, Selina is in her hotel room watching the news and, apparently, scrapbooking. (Who knew Selina liked to scrapbook?) The news report of her theft of the jewels finally appears on the screen and she hurriedly turns up the volume to listen in. She mocks the authorities, believing that they will never catch her. As the newscaster proceeds to a different story, Selina heads for the bathroom. The news cuts to a report of two prisoners who have escaped police custody. The reporter does his bit on the escape and hands the newscast back over to his colleague in the studio. As the reporter and his cameraman pack up, the two escapees jump them, but Batman quickly dispatches the two crooks. Batman asks the news crew to deliver a message, which Selina overhears on the TV: "The Crown Jewels have been stolen by The Catwoman, a colorful, but untimely harmless petty thief." That galls Selina, and she pulls out her costume.
Catwoman arrives back at the gallery and proceeds to push over the podium were the jewels were originally displayed, only to find a note from Batman: "Too late." Batman appears out from the shadows with the jewels in hand. She tries to run, but Batman trips her up. He admits that her plan was good: hide the jewels under the podium, wait until the security system was shut off, then steal them for real.
Batman tries to do the clichéd convincing her of the error of her ways thing, but Catwoman kicks him and makes her escape with the crown. This begins a rooftop chase across London, which ends on Big Ben. Batman catches up to her and tries to get her to give up. Catwoman charges him, which causes Batman to duck and Catwoman to go flying off the edge of Big Ben. Batman saves her, to which she thanks him by throwing him off. Batman shoots his grappling gun and swings to safety, but not before catching the jewels, which fell with him. Catwoman escapes and Batman vows to get her next time.
Back in Gotham City, a package arrives for The Joker direct from London. The issue ends with Joker laughing manically, promising an absent Batman that he is coming "for him."
As much as I hate to say it, this issue was a chore to read. The whole time I was reading this I was holding my head in my hands trying to find the motivation to push forward. The biggest problem I had with the issue was the fact that there was no romantic tension between Batman and Catwoman. None. She is written to be an ordinary criminal that Batman has to haul off to jail, not the woman who he clearly cares very deeply for. I think that the writer of this comic, Kelley Puckett, was trying to ride the wave that was Batman Returns, instead of watching the cartoon that this comic series was based off of. If he had, perhaps he would have written Penguin (in the last issue) and Catwoman a little differently.
I found too many flaws with this comic book to give it a good score.
Overall Score: 2