Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Comics: Good News, Bad News

First, the good:
(1) The release date for Infinite Crisis #3 has been bumped up to today. Spider-Woman: Origin, with art by the Luna brothers, will also be in the shop this afternoon. (Not to mention Birds of Prey #89, X-Men: Deadly Genesis #2, and Justice #3.)

(2) Chris Claremont, who penned the classic X-Men run spanning issues 94-142 (Death of Jane Grey [1]; Phoenix; Dark Phoenix; Days of Future Past) seems to have regained his stride. New Excalibur #1-2 and Uncanny X-Men #466-7 have been something of a return to form, and I look forward, for the first time in years, to future issues he's written.

The bad:
Ed Brubaker's Catwoman and Bendis' Alias were the two titles that drew me back into comic books after 2000. They each headlined a complex woman who was facing problems that (though embedded in their respective comic book universes) were recognizably real. Brubaker took Selina Kyle on a journey from arch-villain and B-list player to symapthetic and flawed heroine; she went from a supporting figure to someone who could carry her own title. I know it's going to sound arrogant, but it seemed to me that Brubaker's Catwoman was a comic for grown-ups, and I enjoyed it immensely and proselytized about it to my wife, friends, colleagues, and extended family.

While I know the DC Universe is being turned inside out by Infinite Crisis, with much-beloved characters like Ted Kord/Blue Beetle and the Freedom Fighters being murdered by their foes, I have been troubled by what I've been learning about changes coming up for Selina Kyle/Catwoman. Although she's going to survive the crisis, Selina will be forced to change her identity, leave Gotham City, and, in consequence, another woman will take up the mantle of Catwoman. I'm fine with these developments; Ed Brubaker wrote several effective "road trip" storylines during his marvelous run on the title, and I'm even open to a temporary replacement, as long as this is all written well. However, an additional problematic change suggests that these developments may be permanent. Selina Kyle, it's been confirmed, will be pregnant in the year following the crisis. While I'm in favor of women attaining pregnancy and having children, this will mark a major and, presumably, permanent transformation to the character. And, in the context of how this character has developed over the decades (and especially in recent years), this represents a change with ramifications as momentous as death.

Now, I'm not planning to break all of my toys and turn my back on the book and all other DC titles. I'm actually looking forward to seeing how the writer, Will Pfeifer, handles all of these changes. I must admit that it will, however, take me some time to get used to a DC universe that contains a Catwoman who is no longer Selina Kyle.

Update (12.22.05; 8:45AM): Will Pfeifer comments on Catwoman's new directions here. It sounds like he gets it. (Thank goodness.)

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