Batman: The Cat and the Bat
I have to admit to you: I loved The Cat and the Bat. I don’t know Barbara Gordon as Batgirl very well—pretty much every title I’ve read before has seen her post-crippling and in a wheelchair as Oracle. Perhaps the only stories of hers that I knew her as the insouciant, charming, rather innocent heroine from another era are Timm-type stories. This one, on the other hand, is modern and retro (Catwoman in a suit very different from the one with goggles).
It’s the uber-cheeky story of Barbara (Gordon’s daughter and, unbeknownst to him, newly appointed Batgirl) picking up her father’s secret police casebook, which gets stolen right out from under her nose by Catwoman. Thus begins a craaaazy chase that makes the highly agile women rivals, enemies, allies, and eventually grudging acquaintances. The interior monologuing from Barbara’s perspective as well as Catwoman’s is a great device and highly amusing. The best part was easily the outrageous setting of Gotham City Hedonist Society, which is basically an excuse to cause Barbara excruciating embarrassment as she has to strip to just her mask in order to pursue Catwoman. Perhaps with another team it would be exploitative, but it’s just so funny I really can’t hold that against it (besides, it’s equal opportunity nudity). What would Batman do? He would say infiltrate. But would he do it naked? I think I put on my Granny panties this morning . . . I’m sure it also took real inventiveness to draw all those naked people and not show anything non-PG. It’s also amusing that Barbara apologizes for “waling on the help.”
There’s an interlude with a cute puppy in a junkyard before Catwoman spills that she needs the notebook to help save the life of a friend. The Russian mob gets involved, and Batman comes back from vacation (seriously!). It’s a bit awkward for everyone: Barbara is his ingénue but Catwoman is his “It’s complicated” status on Facebook. The Riddler is even involved (I have a few odd ships of my own, and CatwomanxRiddler is one of them, ever since Catwoman: When in Rome). I won’t spoil the ending, but let me just congratulate them on a little cameo from sexy!Joker (something you don’t see too often in DC!universe—though I suppose it’s all about complicated considering he’s the one who reduces her to a cripple, at least in most versions).
Barbara is drawn too maturely by Kevin Maguire to pass as a freckled kid, but I love the expressiveness on her features. Allied to a funny, fast, and extremely witty script by Fabian Nicieza, I have to say this one’s a winner!