Brave New World: Aquaman and Catwoman

Catwoman and AquamanIn Canada today it is Family Day, or as it is more commonly known, February Doesn’t Have Any Statutory Holidays So Let’s Make One Up and Give People a Day Off Day. I will be celebrating it by surrounding myself with my own kind of family: my wife, my cats, the staff at the world-famous Fran’s Diner, a leather-loving jewel thief, a disgustingly-scarred gunslinger, and a few assorted members of the Justice League.

Yes, I’m still on my DC kick, revelling in the unfolding mysteries of the New 52. There has been some news: the struggling Hawk and Dove has already been cancelled, even though the characters appear in the still-running Justice League Dark. A new DC title has been launched in the wake of the rest: Huntress rejoins the Batman family as a mini-series, and the character will be featured in upcoming revivals.

This week I’ll talk about two of my favourite entries into the DCnU, both well-known if not exactly well-loved familiar faces.

Aquaman

Aquaman has been around almost as long as DC Comics has, first appearing in the early forties, and headlining his own titles through the fifties and sixties. He’s the King of Atlantis, one of the founding members of the Justice League, and one of the biggest superhero jokes out there. I’m particularly fond of the brilliant Kate Beaton’s reimagining of the character.

It’s true. Aquaman has long been seen by non-fans as about useless as a sack of wet cats when it came to land-bound danger – and so do the citizens of Coast City. Cops, criminals, and innocent bystanders alike are boggled by Aquaman effectively foiling a crime. Within the first few pages, he is asked what it’s like “to be nobody’s favourite superhero”.

I think that line alone sold me on the new Aquaman.

This Aquaman is a reluctant hero, not because he does not believe himself to be good enough or worthy enough, but because he tried his best, darnit, and caught nothing but ridicule for it. He’s bitter and jaded and angry at humanity for not taking him seriously, and decides to withdraw from them until his own moral centre drags him out of seclusion to help the people who don’t want or need his help.

The art, drawn by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado , is very traditionally pecs and spandex, but dynamic. It provides the perfect foil for the very non-traditional hero, with his non-traditional anger. If you too counted Aquaman out as an oversized bath toy, definitely give the new reboot a try.

Unless that pirahnas-with-legs episode of Jonny Quest haunted your dreams as a child. Then you might want to skip it.

Catwoman

As a healthy red-blooded lesbian, the slinky Selena Kyle has occupied many of my daydreams. The DCnU reboot has proved divisive in the fan community, however. Some find its graphic sexuality and almost violent bat-sex to be gratitous and unnecessary, glorified fan fiction. Some just love the snappy story, fast dialogue, and jittery, electric art.

I’m in the latter camp.

I’ve already talked about how much I adore the small details in the art of this comic, especially Catwoman’s kitty companions.

Heists and heroics abound as Cats and Bats spar verbally and physically, but it’s the emotional rawness of the unleashed Catwoman that sells the story. She needs comfort and challenge and love more viscerally than I have ever experienced on the comics page before. I came for the art and stayed for the character. I can’t wait to see how Guillem March and Judd Winick walk the line between hero and villain.

I expected campy and I got heart.

Agree? Disagree? How did you like the new directions for the characters? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Speak Your Mind

*