Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Selina Kyle OYL

Spoilers to Catwoman #53 follow.

The important facts that are introduced in this issue have been bandied about the Internet for several months: Selina Kyle is a mom, and she's no longer Catwoman. Holly Robinson, her friend and protegé, has just taken up the mantle. And, with someone younger and less experienced occupying the role, readers are shown that being Catwoman is no simple task.

It's clear that Will Pfeifer intends to ease our transition into Selina Kyle's corner of the DCU, and those readers desiring quick answers are going to be disappointed. In a fundamental way, Catwoman one year later is all about uncertainty, and the cover image I've reproduced, (which is different from the picture up at DC's website), shows us the newly-costumed heroine with her hand up to her face, the finger in her mouth connoting hesitation and insecurity.

These were the questions I brought to this issue:
Will Selina Kyle be both mother and heroine?
Why does Selina think she can so easily be replaced?
Can Holly Robinson stay alive as the new Catwoman (without killing someone)?
Where has baby Helena come from, and what's her destiny?

I know that the last question is oddly-worded, but there's more to this, I think, than simply finding out who Helena's father is. For example, there's an interesting exchange between Slam Bradley and Selina over her choice of the child's name.

Slam's reaction here intrigues me because, other than for considerations that exist beyond the fourth wall, I don't quite get why the name Helena should cause him to raise an eyebrow. I mean, the name should evoke all kinds of connections for the reader, but not for the characters in the book, right?

It's heartening to see that even after the crisis and the leap forward, Selina is still herself. Let me set the stage for her last appearance in the issue. Batman has stopped by to visit and chat. Selina has recently given birth, (having been released from the hospital with her child several hours earlier). She's got a motherly shawl draped over her shoulders, and looks as if she's gearing up for an evening of knitting in front of the radio (or Victrola). She lacks all of the outer accoutrements of mask and costume that mark her as an accomplished adventuress. Oh, and there's one last thing: she's holding a teddy bear in one hand.

Yet, when Batman begins his lecture on the wisdom of her decision to empower Holly Robinson as the new Catwoman, Selina cuts him off and firmly directs Batman to talk to the hand.

One year later, Selina Kyle is absolutely at peace with the momentous decisions she has made. I look forward to learning about the sources of her confidence in future issues.

I honestly don't think Slam is raising an eyebrow at the name choice itself. I believe, in this particular scene, Selina's irrational answer sets off his bull-shit meter. He doesn't know what she's bull-shitting, but he knows she dodging the subject. In other words, he gleans that the name means something to her and he's being left out of the loop. Again. He makes his resentment about being treated like an incompetent idiot plain several times in this issue. Perhaps Selina, like Kate Spencer, remembers.
Hey, KKG!

I grant that my reading of that point might have been a bit too literal. I took Slam's initial reponse to the name as a knowing one, but his "Named after?" line does make it seem that he just wants to know where the information is coming from, rather than to provide some kind of commentary upon it.

And, yeah, poor Slammer doesn't get any respect in this issue, does he?

I'm definitely looking forward to learning who Selina is honoring with her choice of name. And yes, I'm eager to see what she knows about the DCU-wide events that we're presently reading about; they would indeed be memories to her one year later.
OTOH, if we get into who remembers what, Slam is a legacy character. I'm sure some version of him existed on Earth2. It's possible he knows why Selina chose the name Helena and is, again, expressing his displeasure at the way she casually assumes he's ignorant or would reject her if he knew too much. It's funny, you know, because she keeps making that mistake around him. I think she's overly accustomed to stupid men.
Yeah, Slam sure goes way back--he was one of the original detectives in Detective Comics. It does make you wonder what memories he might have of the crisis...
Great bllog post
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