DCAU #116: Catwalk

IN THIS ONE... Catwoman is contracted, then framed, by the Ventriloquist.
CREDITS: Written by Paul Dini; directed by Boyd Kirkland.

REVIEW: Catwalk has me wondering when the story takes place. The focus on Catwoman falling off the wagon and returning to crime, and the way the opening, symbolic recap seems to retell her very first episode, would place it second in the timeline. Perhaps some of her other adventures had her as a hero, and didn't end with her going back to jail. But some of them definitely did, including her last appearance in Batgirl Returns. She escaped police custody, but would have been a wanted woman and certainly wouldn't have been on Bruce Wayne's arm at one of Veronica Vreeland's events in this episode. That's my main complaint, though I've long learned to accept the show doesn't really tell its stories chronologically. A minor point, as is my feeling that Scarface's voice has changed slightly (or is it just me?).

As an exploration of Selina Kyle's character post-first appearance, Catwalk is actually quite good. Though not necessarily "criminally insane" like most of Batman's foes, she does admit that being a thief (and an animal rights activist) is something she can't, or won't, change about herself. The cat in her, as she calls it, also makes her a treacherous opponent, using seduction to get close, and dirty tricks to get the better of her foes. Her cat Isis gets one of its best roles, a true sidekick able to create distractions, fiercely loyal and brave, but also capable of getting Selina into trouble. Isis even works the seduction angle on Batman in tandem with her mistress' attempts. In the end, Catwoman's plight is that of the museum's extinct animals; she faces oblivion of the self. A feminist interpretation is possible, I suppose.

And it's also a pretty good Ventriloquist episode! Scarface (a "scratching post", according to Selina) is put into great jeopardy, and the Ventriloquist becomes despondent, even turns to uncharacteristic violence. But as usual, he's a sympathetic character, sadly dominated by the monster that's inside him. Not the most active of villains, chief henchman Rhino is there to supply some of that. As is the script. The locations used for fights are unusual and lead to interesting beats, whether it's the stuffed whale on museum ceiling, or the sawmill in the climax. And beyond the action, it's a witty piece with a lot of cat and wood wordplay. Love the Tweety Bird quote too.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - The show is getting good at combining villains in interesting ways, but not at fitting its stories in a coherent timeline.


LiamKav said...

Regarding Scarface, I wonder if George Dzundza had a bit of a cold or sore throat. Wesker also sounds a bit off. I guess we'll find out when they next appear.

I've not seen every episode so far (I haven't got around to Batgirl Returns, for instance), but this might be my favourite Catwoman episode so far. The early ones pushed the Animal Rights Activist angle fairly hard... I wonder if there was some behind the scenes pressure to make her more of a good-guy in the wake of Batman Returns. IIRC, ever her early thefts were heavily influenced by the activist angle. Here, it shows her desire to steal is a bit more base than that... basically, Catwoman loves being a cat-thief.

I can also believe in their relationship a lot more. It's different from Talia... it's more, for lack of another word, animal. They both clearly fancy the pants off of each other, with their fights essentially being forplay. If Bruce wanted to keep her around and on the side of good, he might have tried getting her to help with the whole vigilante angel. I dunno if it would have lasted, but it might have helped her deal with all that excess energy she clearly has, especially if Bruce isn't going to put out.

I'm biased, because Selina has always been my favourite of Bruce's "girlfriends", and this shows her at her best. Sneaky, conniving, sexy, tough, clever, not being turned into a werid cat-lady in a not very good episode, and not animated by Akom... it has the lot.

"You're boring me, log."


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