Comic book writer Tom King pushed Batman into new territory with the engagement of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, but the lack of respect for Catwoman in Batman #36 proves the creative and editorial staff have some work to do.
If you read Batman #36 as a stand-alone issue, it’s not that obvious of a problem. Catwoman is just being Catwoman. But! If you read the previous issue where Selina fights Talia al Ghul, the conversation within the book about relationships was real and profound. Joëlle Jones’s artwork on the issue was brilliant with a strong focus on the eyes as the action unfolded. The heroes and villains looked the part but weren’t over-the-top in appearance. Selina and Talia have sex appeal in the form of Olympic athletes, not strippers about to take the main stage at Mons Venus.
Now, look at Clay Mann’s Catwoman.
From a different angle.
The two-page conversation in the Bat Cave between Batman and Catwoman is so male gaze centric it’s disruptive to the rest of the story. Every artist has a style, and as a fan of the medium, I want to every artist push the envelope as far as possible. This is not Mann’s fault; there is a whole creative staff on the book. Jaime S. Rich is the editor, with Maggie Howell assisting, Tom King wrote the script, Jordie Bellaire worked on colors. Someone on the staff needed to step up and say we can do better than this. We all come from different backgrounds and have different experiences. It’s okay to tap an artist on the shoulder and say, “a little less male gaze on this panel.” Having that conversation is how we grow.
Mann is an amazing artist and with Tom King and company, they put together a great book… except for two panels. If DC Comics believes that Catwoman is Batman’s equal, it needs to start treating her like an equal.
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