Thursday, March 25, 2010
From 1961's ADVENTURES OF THE JAGUAR #3, here's the first appearance of "the Sea Circe from Space" Kree-Nal, who as seen here is trying to transform/enslave the hero a la the mythological Circe. By the story's end he sends her back to the sea's depths (where her people, a race of aquatic aliens, ended up when their spacecraft crashed there). However, she falls in love with the Jaguar and in all the rest of her appearances she becomes a sporadically-seen ally.
Of considerably greater durability than Harvey Comics' Black Cat is DC Comics' Catwoman. I don't judge a character's mythic presence solely by the character's prominence in culture (pop or otherwise) but if I did Catwoman would be a prime contender, as television and films made her one of the few comics-characters that a majority of Americans know.
The cover of DETECTIVE COMICS #122 is an odd one given that it hails from 1947, a time when fan-histories consider that DC had pretty much distanced itself from its wild-and-wooly pulp past and was beginning to skew toward corporate predictability. And yet here's Catwoman on the cover, clawing the hell out of Robin's shoulder as the Big Bat rushes to the rescue. I'm sure that the contents of the book were strictly G-rated by the standards of anyone save Doctor Wertham, and yet it is fairly violent for a DC cover of that time. Perhaps DC's editors were tempted to push the envelope by some of the more lurid crime comics of the period?
Still, this does seem like the sort of cover Wertham would have included in SEDUCTION had he seen it, particularly since as I recall Catwoman was the only villainess he took the trouble to cite by name, though he drew attention not to her claws but to her Sadean whip.
Monday, March 15, 2010
I've already done one WONDER WOMAN entry, but just as deserving of coverage is one of the few other costumed heroines (not counting jungle girls) to have enjoyed a long success in a starring feature: THE BLACK CAT.
I didn't grow up reading these, and the source of their long-running appeal has always been a bit of a mystery to me. There's some cheesecake appeal, but a lot of other books offered more. The stories are enjoyably light and breezy; the art is pleasant but workmanlike, not even as good as 40s Infantino, much less Simon and Kirby.
It's possible that judo-training sessions like the one seen here had something to do with the Cat's long-lived popularity. Not that many superhero books, no matter what gender their protagonist was, featured these little "how-to" tips (which incidentally earned the book some of the Wrath of Wertham). Possibly Harvey Comics lucked onto a sales-making gimmick here that other publishers just didn't want to bother with, as most of them preferred to use heroines as back-up features in multi-character anthologies.)
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Since I did a post on the original "Bat-Girl" I thought I ought to have one for her auntie too.
Original Batwoman's appearance is interesting on a number of levels. It's been alleged (though never proven) that she was introduced to be a regular romantic interest for Batman in order to allay Wertham-esque complaints about the unhealthy relationship of Bruce Wayne and his young ward. About five years later Bat-Girl was introduced as a little friend for Robin and the foursome were all but double-dating before then-editor Jack Schiff was taken off the Bat-books and new editor Julie Schwartz considered the Bat-babes to oblivion.
To be sure, Original Batwoman was kind of a wimp most of the time, though you can't tell it from this cover, where the Dynamic Duo seem positively unmanned by the threat of female superiority. Of course more feminine influence in a superhero book wouldn't have quelled Werthamite complaints in itself, in that Wertham arguably disapproved of female crimefighters even more than he did of proto-gay male crimefighters.
I rather liked how Grant Morrison briefly revived this Batwoman in a BATMAN flashback and endowed her with a certain sassiness in line with the above cover.