Batman: The Cat & the Bat
by Fabian Nicieza, Kevin Maguire (DC Comics, 2009)

There is a certain subset of comics fan that enjoys looking at superheroines in the buff. There are -- or so I'm told, this is purely rumor -- entire websites devoted to the art of naked versions of Wonder Woman, Supergirl, She-Hulk and the like.

Those fans will love The Cat & the Bat, a Batman title collected from the Batman Confidential monthly series.

The story takes place early in the career of Barbara "The One True Batgirl" Gordon, who is studying a private, coded notebook belonging to her father, Police Commissioner James Gordon, when the book is stolen from under her nose by Selina "Catwoman" Kyle. A chase, of course, ensues.

Now, the book wisely ignores the unknowable -- How could Catwoman possibly know where the notebook would be? How did she even know it existed? And how could she have even the faintest idea what was in it? -- and focuses on the clash between the plucky but inexperienced Bat and the cunning, street-savvy Cat. But the story takes a surprising turn when Selina, hoping to shake her pursuer, ducks into the Gotham City Hedonist Society, where everyone is entirely naked. The only way to catch her now is to drop spandex and follow.

OK, let's state up front that Batman, whom Barbara is trying so hard to emulate, would never ever doff his attire to catch a crook. He'd KO the bouncers, plow through the crowd and nab his man. Barbara, though, takes the less likely route ... much to the endless delight, no doubt, of those special fans mentioned above. Of course, nothing is ever visible, as such, although some interesting girl-on-girl action does occur.

It's here I have to give artist Kevin Maguire, best known for his pivotal work on the Justice League, his props. And no, it's not just for the almost-seen naughty bits of the Cat and the Bat. Maguire is a master when it comes to the nuance of facial expression, and it's a treat to watch him at work here. Barbara's expressions are especially ... revealing.

Oh yeah, Batman does make a few appearances, and Batgirl also runs a pretty snazzy gauntlet through the population of Arkham Asylum.

review by
Tom Knapp

2 January 2009

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