Friday, September 22, 2006

A Catwoman Conundrum

(The most recent issue of Catwoman is spoiled in the post which follows.)

#59 reveals both the father of Selina's child, and the situation surrounding Helena's conception.

In order to be at peace with the comic's revelations, one needs to accept the following three things:

(1) Selina Kyle's pregnancy was the result of a specific moment in which Selina quick-stepped a nascent attraction to Slam Bradley's son, Sam, to it's culminating point.

Sam has not before been a major figure in the book, or in Selina's life. While I know that Catwoman isn't a romance comic, it still would have been nice to see something actually romantic going on between the two characters.

(2) Selina, confronting Black Mask's organization with Sam, thinks that both of their deaths are a likely outcome, leading her to suggest that it might be best for them to act upon their mutual attraction and take what pleasure they can in the midst of a bleak situation.

(3) Having convinced Sam to see the sense of her position, Selina engages in sexual intercourse without using contraception.

I suppose I could convince myself to make peace with the first two. However, the last one is really, really difficult to swallow.

Especially since the two characters aren't exactly overwhelmed by passion in that scene. Given how she's controlling everything else about the situation, it's kind of striking that Selina fails to even bring up the topic of contraception/protection.

And, as far as I can tell, the fact that Selina herself initiated the sexual act is supposed to make this questionable element of her character motivation go down easier.

Basically, I'm being told: even if the character has done something uncharacteristically dumb, at least she exercised agency and autonomy while doing it.

I'm sorry to report that the factors do not quite balance out in my book.

Oh, and on top of everything else, the penultimate panel (the one in which Selina says "Good") has got to be one of the ugliest panels I've ever seen.

I think the only way this scene will parse for me is if it turns out Selina was acting with agency specifically to get pregnant. Of course, that would also mean she was manipulating and using Sam as an accessible sperm donor, which would certainly give him reason to resent her. I can even see the logic in that - pick a guy with whom you lack a strong emotional connection to avoid guilt.

An oops scenario, though.... Oh man. Gosh, sex can get you pregnant? Wow! Maybe twenty or thirty years ago that would have been plausible but, in this day in age, the author would need to explain a whole lot of things happening just so. Not explaining that is like not explaining how the mind-wipe did or didn't affect her. Lazy. (Next month, we learn that Selina pees out of her butt).
I think the only way this scene will parse for me is if it turns out Selina was acting with agency specifically to get pregnant.

Yeah, for me, too.

All of this does make me wonder about Selina's breaking into that pharmacy to acquire the pregnancy test, and her wide-eyed surprise at the positive result.

Will Pfeifer has intimated over at his blog that this scene doesn't reveal the entire story. ... A commenter over there theorizes that perhaps Selina was already pregnant when she convinced Sam to consumate their "relationship."

This is a tough one, though, because it would mean Selina intended from the start to manipulate Sam into believing Helena is his child, when she is not. To me that would be a lot worse than her using him as a sperm source in order to engender a child which she desires for her own reason.
I had the impression she didn't expect to get out of that mission alive, thus negating the need for any contraceptive protection for the "team-up" before the "team-up."

But if there is more to the story, then who knows what's going on ...

*coughs discreetly and points at the DC Messageboards* Read my first follow-up reply. I structured my initial review in a way that encouraged speculation about the flashback scene. Let's say, I had a certain theory but didn't want to come across like the river denial. I wanted to see if anyone else suspected the same.

I don't think Selina intends for Sam to even know about Helena. Ergo, she is not trying to make him believe anything because she believed they would either go their separate ways or die.


They weren't going on any mission. They were discussing Sam's intent to become a vigilante on the wrong side of the law. They had already killed Black Mask and Sam was recovered from his hospital stay - his hair had grown back in. The immediate threat was nothing out of the ordinary for Selina, who has been the target of on-going catwoman-hunts before. She may have been emphasizing it for Sam's benefit, so he would understand the hazards of the lifestyle he was choosing.
Thanks for your comments, Keeper and KKG!

Since an intentional pregnancy is the only explanation that preserves Selina's intelligence, I'm hoping this is what's happened.
Another explaination is that they did use protection, and it just failed. Condoms do fail (in one out of one hundred cases, in fact). Which would make Selina's surprise in the pharmacy all the more understandable.
It seems to me that if the topic of "weirdness" comes up, Selina might remember that she had an affair with Sam's father, who still has feelings for her. That strikes me as the "weird" thing here, a lot more than what costumes people were wearing. Given that Sam and Slam's relationship is already pretty difficult, Selina's action will drive the last nail into that coffin. This isn't a character I want to read about anymore.

Time to go reread my Brubaker trades. . .

Bill Burns
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