Writer & Penciller: Tony Daniel
Inks: Ryan Winn, Sandu Florea
While reading Detective Comics 2 yesterday, I couldn’t help but compare it to Catwoman 1, specifically in terms of sex and representation. Instead of doing a full review of the issue I’m going to just look at the first two scenes, but don’t let that suggest I didn’t like the rest – it was a great issue and Detective Comics remains one of my favourite series.
One problem I had with Catwoman 1 was how Catwoman was drawn in the opening pages. The focus was on her breasts, exposed for no plot-based reason, and we didn’t see her full body until the third page. The effect is to de-personalize Catwoman, making our access to her body more important than her character. Bruce in Detective Comics 2, in contrast, is almost immediately shown in a full-body action shot, and unlike Catwoman he looks back out at us from the very first page of the book.
We start with Bruce in a tank top and shorts, rock climbing in his office (ah, the benefits of being a billionaire). When he’s joined by an unexpected visitor we see even more exposed skin, as the guy removes his shirt to join in. In some ways this is just as objectifying as the Catwoman scene (why not put the guy in an undershirt?) Does the fact that they’re exercising/training change the meaning of the scene, or how we respond to it, in contrast to Catwoman diving backwards off a building?
Immediately following this scene Bruce Wayne has yet another unexpected meeting, this time with a Charlotte Rivers. She seems to be a TV reporter, and the first part of her we see is her ass. Since we don’t yet know her as a character, it’s hard to tell if she’s using her beauty to try to gain access to Bruce, or if she dresses to fit in with her industry but genuinely dislikes how she’s treated because of it (“My eyes are up here”).
Either way, when Bruce tells Charlotte her eyes are shooting daggers, she responds with “Then kiss me before you bleed to death.” What do you think? Is she using sex to get a story, or is Bruce going along with it to distract her from her investigation? If it’s the latter, then Bruce is sort of whoring himself out to protect the Bat-Secret! He’s a willing and hopefully enthusiastic participant, but it just seems like his heart’s not in it.
So we’ve seen Bruce/Batman with two different women now, and both times he seems reluctant. With Catwoman he initially said no but changed his mind soon after; with Charlotte follows her lead with apparent pleasure but is clearly distant and distracted afterwards. How interesting, to compare that against Catwoman (she gets what she wants) and Starfire (who doesn’t get to love or even remember who she’s been with) – it kind of seems like Catwoman’s the one coming out on top.