If I may. Would you explain why you have an issue with the Catwoman murder thing? Honestly would like your take and reasoning as to me it makes sense as she's always going between the two sides of the law.
I was debating whether or not I was going to answer this because I really, really, really don’t want to talk about this anymore. Talking about DC Comics brings so much negativity to this blog and I just want to move onto the part where I spend the rest of my life forgetting this ever happened and ignoring the struggle bus that is DC Comics. But since I keep getting asked and this is all I can do to stop myself from rage crying on behalf of Catwoman’s good name fine. But this is the last time. Since I’m not really expecting anyone to read this in its entirety a couple of things:
1) This is a blog about a ship. This is not the appropriate forum for philosophical debates on whether terrorists who kill children have a right to live so don’t bother hitting up my inbox to tell me whether or not you think Catwoman’s murders were justified. I won’t respond to it. I won’t even read it. It will be deleted.
2) Don’t even think about @-ing me to bring up Hydra Cap to justify or excuse what’s happened to Catwoman. Publicity stunt or not Hydra Cap was offensive, disrespectful to his creators, and a perversion of his character.
The idea that making Catwoman a serial killer is okay because “she’s always going between two sides of the law” makes absolutely no sense. I’m okay with making changes to and modernizing characters but I believe wholeheartedly they the should retain their most principle chacteristics that make them recognizably themselves. Catwoman had never been a malicious killer. It goes against everything she’s ever stood for. How do we know this? Through her repeated thoughts, actions, and all those times she point blank said “I don’t kill people.”
Even in her earliest appearances she indicates that she values human life.
Catwoman is an anti hero, no doubt about that, but she has always cared about women, children, the poor, and otherwise disenfranchised. This has never entailed alternating between saving lives and murdering literally hundreds of people. That implies that Catwoman has no moral standards whatsoever. Tom King revealing that Catwoman murdered a comedically high number of people because they were part of some terrorist organization that attacked an orphanage is such weak sauce. King knows this is out of character for Catwoman and is trying to come up with an excuse to try to justify it. Catwoman has even saved the Joker’s worthless life.
I’m going to borrow the words from Brandon Mulholand at batmannews.com who articulated the problem with this perfectly:
Perhaps King is hoping to justify her transgression by illuminating that her victims were terrorists that deserved it because they killed little kids. While that is some seriously ghastly stuff, and I’m not questioning whether or not someone who kills kids has the right to live or not, I find it beyond annoying that King would decide to tack that kind of history onto a beloved character like Catwoman.
It messes with the character. He isn’t putting himself into the character and having them react the way they would to a given situation. He’s making them react the way he wants them to so that he can tell the story he wants. And that is so not cool with me.
Killing anyone because they killed children, as gruesome as that is, is not something that would drive Catwoman to kill. Catwoman spared lives of the many people who threatened her own infant daughter’s life.
Furthermore Catwoman is shown to be extremely vindictive when wronged and has extracted her vengeance a number of different ways over the years. This has never included killing anyone. Even when Catwoman killed Black Mask it wasn’t for revenge. He killed her brother in law, tortured her sister into catatonia, brutalized her loved ones, and beat Stephanie Brown to death. This went on for years, but Catwoman killing Black Mask had nothing to do with revenge. She believed that she would be protecting lives by killing him and did what she thought was the most right thing given the situation.
Comparing the story of how Catwoman came to kill Black Mask to the nonsense Tom King invented for the convenience of his story makes the whole thing worse. The story of Catwoman and Black Mask was constructed over several years by multiple writers that contributed a layer of complexity to the story. It wasn’t something and she was happy or unphased by like she was in King’s story. It took years for the tension between them to build enough and unrelenting attacks on her, her loved ones, and other innocent people before Catwoman decided to kill Black Mask. Catwoman agonized over whether she should do it and worried about how it would change her. We don’t get any of that from Tom King. We don’t get to see Catwoman’s thought process: we were just flippantly told about it in a story that’s not even her’s. At the very least it’s a piss poor way of constructing a story.
To me Catwoman has always been a fun character. By that I mean she’s doesn’t get bogged down with grimdark. I think there’s something really inspiring about the fact that despite having suffered through more unimaginable tragedies than any person should Catwoman was never defined it. She overcame it and it made her a stronger person. Look at the radically different ways that Batman and Catwoman have responded to their trauma. Batman is completely defined by it. He spends his nights dressed as a bat, karate chopping bad guys because he can’t get past it. Catwoman doesn’t really look back the way that he does. She stills allows herself to be happy and is still a generally joyful character. I think seeing the way she’s able to process and recover inspires Batman that maybe he can too and have a happier, brighter future. That bit about Catwoman wishing that Batman would lose hope so that they could be together added insult to injury.
Making Catwoman a serial killer will completely define her. The thing that separated her from the other Rogues was her lack of propensity for violence. This will never make me able to see the character the same way. Instead of a being flawed but good natured and fun I’ll always see her as someone with something dark and sinister inside of her. Instead of seeing someone who has the strength to overcome any hardship that’s thrown her way I’ll see her someone who buckles to carnal blood lust and in her own words slit the throats of hundreds of people and those were the lucky ones, and that takes away so much of my ability to enjoy the character.
You know why Batman doesn’t kill people? It’s not just about laws and justice: it’s about human decency. Again going to borrow a quote:
Batman needs to prove that it is not just laws that keep us in line, but basic human decency and our natural instinct NOT to kill. If Batman can prove this, then others will be inspired by his example (the citizens of Gotham, but again, also the readers), just as we are all inspired every day to keep civilization running smoothly and not descend into violence, anarchy, and chaos. This ability to be decent in the face of the horrors and temptations present all around us is humanity’s superpower, the superpower of each of us. The struggle of Batman and the Joker is the internal struggle of each of us. But we are inspired by Batman’s example, not the Joker’s, because Batman always wins the argument, because he has not killed the Joker.
One of the most paramount things that Catwoman provides to the Batman universe is a more nuanced understanding of morality. She’s by far the most benign of the Rogues and although she’s an unapologetic criminal the fact that she cares about people and always does the right thing when it really matters provides Batman with a less black and white understanding of right and wrong. This makes him a better crime fighter and defender of justice. This can only be accomplished if Catwoman remains a generally nonviolent character. Now that Catwoman has this absurdly high kill count that cannot be said. She’s now just another Rogue. She can kill as indiscriminately as she wants and it wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference. Arguing that it’s somehow okay because Catwoman kills subjectively deserving people is a weak argument. It’s lazy storytelling. There’s no depth. It takes the complexity and conflict out of the story. Why not have Catwoman just kill the Joker then? What’s another kill when she has a 200+ body count. Likewise having Batman seeming to not care that Catwoman is a serial killer when going to her for help is an affront to his character.
What is the narrative value of this? What was King trying to accomplish? What is this contributing to the story or the character? This arc is supposed to setting up Justice League vs. Suicide Squad so what does Catwoman being a serial killer have anything to do with that? It takes away so much from the character and King doesn’t have a good enough reason for doing so.
Am I overreacting? If I am it’s because my patience and goodwill towards DC Comics expired a long time ago. I know how comic books work. I know King could explain this away or reveal that Catwoman was innocent the entire time due to some ridiculous circumstances later on. Even if he doesn’t writers have had no problem ret-conning problematic material written by other writers no matter how long it had been considered canon. This very well may not be permanent, but I’ve had more than enough shock value and gimmicks to last me a lifetime and would very much like to get to actually good stories with strong characterization but I guess that’s asking for too much.
tldr: It’s a complete abomination.