Catman, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways
It’s been a year since I wrote my first column for The Idler, and in that time I’ve been able to tackle a whole host of things I felt were important to me. From the earliest comics that drew me into the medium to some of the most thought-provoking material I’ve encountered as an adult, I’ve had my say. But there’s one thing I haven’t seriously touched upon. Something my editor even asked me about early last year and I held him off. A character near and dear to my heart.
If you were hoping this week’s entry was going to be a font of philosophical pondering, turn back now. My love of Thomas Blake, the man of the yellow and orange, is not rational, ethical or even natural. It even makes my husband nervous. Sure, it’s pretty unlikely the actual Catman will ever spontaneously erupt from the comic page into three-dimensional life, but that slim cosmological chance already has my brain burning with possibility.
A little background. Featured prominently in Secret Six, the monthly series published by DC Comics from 2008 until 2011, Catman is a minor Batman villain, created in 1963, who rose from obscurity to join this misfit band of anti-heroes and mercenaries. A laughingstock before then, Catman has since become, under the pen of the mighty Gail Simone, a fierce Tarzan-like figure, highly intelligent (if not wise) and exhibiting great prowess in combat and hunting. He’s as primal a figure in mainstream comics as you can get.
Sure, he’s not Batman. He’s neither on the side of angels nor devils, not the big name at the marquee or the guy who gets the happy ending. But anytime he appears on the page, I’m there. Why, you ask? Let me tell you.
1. He’s frequently naked. Just getting that out of the way.
2. He probably can’t win against Batman, but that doesn’t stop him from trying.
3. He has a great bromance going with Deadshot.
4. He’s not afraid to look goofy. (Hee-hee “Maneaters.” Oh, Robin!)
5. He can carry a loincloth like nobody’s business.
6. He has some serious daddy issues.
7. Did I mention he’s frequently naked?
8. He used to be fat. Now he’s not. It gives me hope.
9. He’s bisexual. . .
10. . . . and an animal lover.
11. He can be super scary when he wants to be.
12. Ahem. Naked.
Lest you think, fair reader, that I am unusually obsessed and singular in my adoration of the man with the little cat ears, I leave you with proof of my camaraderie among other Catman fans. If nothing else, let this be a lesson that every character has the potential to be someone’s favorite, and there’s potential in every character to be great, no matter how dumb he or she may seem at first. Or second. Or third.
Matt Santori-Griffith owns one business suit, three pairs of shoes, and over 15,000 comic books. He is an art director for several non-profit organizations, senior editor for Comicosity.com, and still manages to find the time on dark nights and weekends to fight the good fight on Twitter.com in the guise of @FotoCub. He has not yet saved the world, but isn’t giving up quite yet.