Cliff Chiang’s Catwoman isn’t the fastest anymore. Gotham’s top cops are now known as the Batcops, and they’re a serious group. Panini Photos / Cliff Chiang
Catwoman, the master thief, returns to the altered Gotham as a 50-year-old man after ten years in prison. Cliff Chiang’s “Catwoman: Lonely City” appeals to more mature Batman fans.
What happens to superheroes as they get older? They become angrier, angrier and unpredictable. It has been told many times, most famously Frank Miller’s 1986 saga, Batman’s The Dark Knight Returns saga, but one has to wonder what has happened to the super-villains over the years? If your intervertebral discs hurt and your knees can’t move forward?
A bittersweet answer is provided by Cliff Chiang’s Lonely City mini-series Cаtwoman, the first two issues of which have been collected into a single volume in German. Catwoman, now in her fifties, was released from prison after ten years, and Gotham City alone hasn’t changed. Nothing works as well as it used to in an emergency when she returns to her old uniform after a agonizing workout. Gotham is a small police state protected by high military technology, and the super-intelligent Cat Woman is now a top-level gymnast. It’s not a good combination for a rule-breaker with big plans.
The people behind the commotion
Cliff Chiang is best known for his work with Brian K. Vaughn’s Paper Girls is the best comic book alternative to Stranger Things from Netflix. However, he has drawn Green Arrow/Black Canary and Wonder Woman in the DC Superhero Universe. But no other American superhero series has such an interesting cast of supporting and antagonistic characters as the Batman universe. And Xiang aware of the reason.
Even his most outlandish opponents have remained firmly rooted in humans, because Bruce Wayne aka Batman is not a metahuman drastically altered by chemicals, radiation accidents, surgery or other scheme modifiers, but a very decent athlete with a lot of brains and billions of dollars needed in special technology like Batmobile. No matter how hideous their behavior, costumes, and weapons may be, Mr. Op Frieze, the Penguin, or the Scarecrow, we all know someone who has been completely ditched.
Rascals are buddies too
Batman is no longer an ordinary show. Gotham is an alternate universe similar to the Star Wars universe. Not only does it entertain, but it also provides symbols, ideas, spaces for thought, and imaginary companions that last longer in life than some real-world relationships, beliefs, and loyalties. The characters stay with you even if you haven’t been following what’s happening in the different Batman story arcs for a while. In Lonely City, Chiang is expanding on this.
Catwoman, whose real name is Selina Kyle, is of course an easy target for reader loyalty. The master thief has always been an enigmatic case, a villain with a moral compass, a constant helper in the fight against sadists, psychopaths and butchers – and he has openly confessed the great and difficult love of Batman’s life.
There is no Gotham for beginners
But “Lonely City” doesn’t just focus on an obvious, graphic character who is now struggling with age. Along with Eddie Nygma, formerly known as Riddler, Wаylon Jones-turned-Killer Croc, and a few others, a perfectly legal exploited penguin (hmm?) aka Oswаld Cobblepot now appears. Some have thrived while others are old abandoned structures with no future. Schizophrenic Harvey Dent, still disfigured as two-faced but under hard-earned internal control, is unsympathetic. He’s Gotham’s tyrannical mayor, a dangerous control-freak, and an unnatural benefactor – but he’s still at odds with someone worse off.
Lonely City probably isn’t a good starting point for newcomers to the Batman universe. In order to enjoy Chаng with their former characters, visuals, and abilities, the characters must be somewhat familiar. Most importantly, Basic Shock works best because this is Lost Gotham: By the time Selina Kyle is released from prison, Batman, Nightwing, Robin, and Batman are all dead, having died in the last Joker plot that led to Selina’s command, and the Obliterate them were caught. A flashback later will reveal more, but not all.
No one is safe anymore
Lonely City is part of DC’s Black Label series, so it’s a story from another world, free from the limitations and narrative considerations imposed by traditional magazines. After all, anything can happen. No one is immune to unexpected twists and turns. The US publisher also sets 17+ as the recommended reading age, suggesting that huge new battles over children’s tastes won’t have to be fought in the future.
It’s also about life experience and whether everything you’ve done so far has been worth it – and whether you still have a chance to do something more reasonable. The fourth and final volume of the mini-series will be released in its original form in August, followed by German repackaging of numbers 3 and 4 in October. But it stands to reason that those who wish to retain older Batman readers should tell more about the approaching retirement years for Gotham’s workforce.
Cliff Chiang: Lonely City – Catwoman Comics by Panini. Caroline Hidalgo, translated from English. 20 euros for 108 pages.