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Batman #11 is better than the previous issue…but not by much.  We get a continuation of the Catwoman narrative that seems to be cementing this new take as legitimate, some off-the-wall humor, and additional Catwoman antics that are sure to have any hardcore fan throwing their hands up in despair and bewilderment.

From my understanding, Rebirth was an initiative meant to bring the New52 characters back to basics.  It’s not a reboot so much as a promise from DC to the fans to return the characters to their true nature.  With that, I have to ask, did Tom King not get the memo?  I mean, seriously, what is he doing to Catwoman?  It’s a catastrophe.  I’m about to go catatonic just thinking about how messed up all this is.  (Should I throw in another cat-word?  No, that’s enough.)

Going into all of this, I was certain that we were ultimately going to get an explanation that would explain away the problematic Catwoman plot that King has introduced.  That it was simply a misdirect put in place so that we could be surprised later on by a stunning reveal.  In my feverish attempt to come up with a justifiable explanation for all these shenanigans, it never occurred to me to take them at face value.  That what we are being given isn’t some switcheroo, but the actual story.  As appalling as that sounds, I’m unfortunately starting to think it might be the truth….

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This makes it sound like Catwoman is insane, rather than just a thief.

During the course of the story, we get a couple scenes that only work when played straight; a flashback with Catwoman that involves Batman hunting her for killing 237 people, and a conversation between Catwoman and Wesker where she talks about her own personal monster along with confiding in him that she fears getting the death penalty for what she has done.  Both scenes are done without an audience, except for us.  Hence, it can’t be an act.  There is no one there to deceive except for us.  If it was done to mislead another character in the story, then that would make sense, but what possible explanation could be given later on to justify these conversations if it does turn out to be a ruse.  So yeah, I’m leaning towards Catwoman being a killer as real at this time, which unfortunately leads us to an unwanted change in the character’s status quo.

If you’d still like to maintain that it’s all just a trick put in place by Batman to deceive Bane for some unknown reason, I suppose there are ways to validate it, but you’re going to have come up with some pretty convoluted answers in order to justify it.

Spoiler

In the final scene, Catwoman kills Punch and Jewelee by slitting their throats.  Ok, there are two ways to look at this.  The first would be that she really has turned into a psycho killer and decided to double-cross Batman in order to save her own skin.  The other way is to assume that it’s still somehow part of the plan.  A secret plan within the secret plan (I’ll get to that in a minute).  One of the things that gives me the slightest hint that this isn’t real is the ease with which Catwoman takes out Bronze Tiger.  If that happened for real, then it’s complete nonsense.  But if Tiger was going along with a plan, it makes sense.  In fact, it’s the only way Catwoman would have a snowball’s chance in hell of taking out Tiger.

Punch and Jewelee can always be explained with prosthetic applications and blood packs.  Once their bodies are taken away, they spring into action, fulfilling some goal under the unsuspecting noses of Bane’s minions.  The one clue that their deaths might be fake is that Punch says, “I’m going to die.  Here.  Today.”  Was he fretting about the possibility of death or simply stating what he knew would happen since it was part of the plan.

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I love Tiger’s dead-pan response.

And Jewelee says something about Tiger being secretly Batman.  Literally, or are we talking about secrets within secrets?  Like secret plans within secret plans?  Punch had a false hand so that he could escape the cuffs.  Plan “A”?  Getting “killed’ by Catwoman.  Plan “B” perhaps?  Their dialogue might be a give away to what is going on but could also just be chalked-up as them being crazy and rambling on about nonsense.  Something to think about.

At this point, I think the thing I dislike about this particular story arc is how much energy I’m devoting to trying to figure out what the heck is going on.  Is it a trick?  Is it real?  Which parts are real?  Are some fake and others real?  Is it a plan?  Is it a double-cross?  Is it a plan within a plan?  The story has me so off-balance and second guessing every single thing that transpires, I’m having a difficult time enjoying it as much as I think I should.  I’m enjoying parts of it, moments if you will.  But I can’t give it two thumbs up as a whole.  I definitely feel that any judgment I place against the story at this time is unfair since a lot of my unhappiness is stemming from the severe amount of confusion I’m currently experiencing.  I really need a concrete answer as to what is going on.  Once the last issue comes out and I can reread them all, I’m sure I’ll have a much better handle on how I feel about all this.  As it stands, I just can’t give this book a standing ovation right now.

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Batman being all Batmany.  More of this please.

Art for this issue is handled by Mikel Janin, and really, it’s one of the few selling-points this story has going for it at the moment.  From an awesome rooftop chase between Batman and Catwoman to a two-page spread featuring Catwoman and Wesker navigating a maze of pipes, it’s simply wonderful.  Kind of makes me sad that such amazing art is tied to such an unenjoyable story.  I mean, look at how well Janin captures the cat and mouse game these two always play.  Aside from the inciting incident that started this little chase, I really liked the back and forth dialogue exchanged between these two.  Not the specific parts about killing people.  But plug this into another story, and it felt very right.  The chase, the quips, the emotion.  It’s all very Batman and Catwoman.

Odds and Ends:

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As a token of my goodwill, I present to you a gift: these two droids.

Both are hardworking and will serve you well.

  • I’m not sure if this was intentional or not, but my Star Wars meter is definitely picking up a reading.  Punch and Jewelee (C-3Po and R2-D2) serving as comic relief and standing outside the front gates of Bane’s Prison (Jabba’s Palace).  Bane’s (Jabba’s) audience chamber where he sits on a dais surrounded by mercenaries.
  • The part where Punch and Jewelee started saying random words reminded me of an episode of Futurama.  Bender had a bomb in him that would detonate when he said a certain phrase.  They couldn’t figure out how to disarm it so they simply switched the phrase to something Bender would never say.  He started randomly spouting off words in order to guess.  “Please, thanks, sorry, funderful, non-alcoholic, compassion, shrimptoast, antiquing?”

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  • I appreciated the fact that even though Batman cares for Selina, he still couldn’t overlook her crimes and delivered her to Arkham despite what he knew would most likely happen to her.  That’s Batman!

Recommended if…

  • You love Mikel Janin’s artwork.
  • You like stories that mentally challenge you to the point of inducing a migraine.

Overall:

When this story arc first rolled out, I would have bet money that the Catwoman plot was a misdirect put in place to keep us guessing.  That something would ultimately explain away the problematic elements being introduced into Catwoman’s character.  But as things have unfolded, it’s getting more and more complicated for King to right this infraction.  If it does turn out to be a device put in place to mislead us, I have to imagine the answer explaining it away is going to be seriously contrived.  And if it’s not, the groundwork is being laid that will most likely destroy the fundamental underpinnings of the character.  While I don’t like what is going on with Catwoman and I’m fairly uncertain as to how much of the story is real and how much is fake, there are still worthwhile things to be had.  The art is great.  The humor is actually funny.  And if you like theorizing on what is going on in a book, you’ll probably love this.

SCORE: 6 / 10