Sunday, September 30, 2007

Nightcat #1

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The comic that makes the movie Glitter look like-
Nah, I take it back.
Glitter is still worse than this.

“Say, remember that one guy who used to have a blog making fun of bad comics?”
“Boy, do I ever. What ever happened to that guy?”

More or less what happened to that guy is that he became focused on his other projects, like his webcomic and the comic he’s working on submitting to Image. As such, sorry for the delay between this review and the last one. If people want to send guest reviews (as long as they provide their own scans) I’d be happy to put them up. To make up for it, this one’s a nice long 48-page comic!

The character of Nightcat only appeared in this one issue and it’s easy to see why. Created in 1991 as a tie-in to a singer of the same name... but I’m sorry to say that I can’t find much more information on it than that. But of course, I’m sure others know more about her than that, right? After all, as the cover below tells us, this is America’s hottest singing sensation! I mean, remember when she did that one concert at that one place at that one time?

Yeah, I got nothing.

Anyway, the comic was interestingly enough written by Stan Lee, which you’d think is something they’d want to advertise to the comic-buying populace right on the cover. Ah, well, maybe they figured the great popularity of Nightcat’s singing in... um... whatever genre she sang in would entice buyers enough. I mean, she’s just got such a wide and diverse talent that appeals to so many different people, donchaknow?

To tie-in with the release, a woman named Jacqueline Tavarez was the physical model for Nightcat and appeared at conventions in a Nightcat costume, featured here. She was fired by Marvel after she appeared in a music video and later turned up in Playboy and the Troma movie studios Z-flick Tromeo and Juliet.

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Our cover of course is beautifully drawn, but it really does look more like an album cover than something for a comic book. I mean, sure, there’s the fact that Nightcat’s costume is essentially a corset, shoulder tassels, and Eddie Van Halen hair (okay, that’s not as superheroic), but it tells us nothing about the character except for the fact that she has three cats that hang around with her, she has some sort of bo staff that resembles a giant metal corndog as her weapon, and that she’s a singing sensation that’s a new superhero. The photorealistic painting style used for the cover is sadly wasted here.

We open to a full-page reveal of Nightcat (who in the book is referred to as Night Cat for reasons that elude me) as she runs at the reader with her corn dog stick in hand and looks like she’s about to either kick the reader or leap off the building. It’s not exactly clear. The ever-helpful narrator starts us up: “The female of the species. Beautiful. Passionate. Sensuous.” And yours for $29.99! “And deadly.” Maybe you shouldn’t have eaten three, then...

We cut from that vague pin-up beginning to “Ten years ago,” according to the narration boxes. A little girl is reading comics on her bed (hooray!) as her policeman father enters the room. “I told you to put those comics away and go to sleep, kitten.” Oh, don’t you just love foreshadowing – “kitten,” indeed! “You’re just like your mom -- always doing what you want!” Gee, thanks for encouraging independence and free will there, dad. After some goading the future Nightcat goes to bed, but obviously can’t sleep. Officer Dad goes downstairs and sees his wife getting ready to go out.

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“You’re not going out again, Beth?” Why do that when you can hang around the house and do the dishes like wimmenfolk should do? “I have to, dear! They’re holding a new audition at the Rock Candy Lounge!” I’m so tempted to make a Daddy-O joke here, but I’ll spare you all the obscure movie trivia. Fascist Father points out that she’s hasn’t been well lately thanks to stress and all the drinking she’s been doing. “Please, Lou! You know how much singing means to me!” And apparently that means end of conversation, since the very next panel is the door slamming and the eponymous “Lou” gone, confusing even Beth. “Lou--? Why can’t you understand?” I’d like to understand why he left without even another comment of some kind.

Cut to apparently a few seconds later where Beth is boozing it up in preparation for that sacred audition at the Rock Candy Lounge. The future Nightcat comes down to her and asks her to sing a song before she leaves. She sings a song with the lyrics: “Don’t change. Don’t change! Stay that way. You’re okay. Don’t change. Don’t change! No one else could ever be the same! You’re quite all right by me this way. So don’t change!” Wow, I can’t imagine how she could ever fail an audition with music that invokes so much imagery like that! By the by, anyone else predicting what’s going to happen to mommy dearest in just two panels?

Thaaat’s right! After Beth leaves, we cut to the narration box informing us, “But that was the last time Jacqueline Tavarez saw her mother alive.” They actually named the character after the model she was based on? Talk about Mary Sue-ing it up and- oh, wait. I’m guilty of that in my books. Umm... Okay, let’s just move on to the tragic loss of the world’s next Alanis Morissette. Father and daughter are in a hospital room over the dead body of Beth. The fine fascist father points out, “When she failed the audition, she drank more than ever. I- I couldn’t stop her.” The doctor responds, “You mustn’t blame yourself. Failing as a singer, she lost the will to live.” What, did the doctor read the backstory already?

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But good ol’ Dad had this medical diagnosis, instead: “It was the music that killed her! The pressure, the disappointment!” Well, that and the cirrhosis of the liver, methinks. He looks to his daughter and proclaims, “It must never happen to you! I won’t let show business kill you, too!” Seems to me her lack of show business is what did her in, but then again I’m not as skilled a doctor and detective as Officer Lou is. Onto the next page, which skips ahead a few years. Our intrepid heroine has moved on and is now with a garage band operating out of their local high school. It seems she’s even inherited her mother’s singing skills:

’Cause if you love me we’ll be together, we’ll build a love like never before. And boy if you love me and love is forever our love will lat forever more.” Yeah, I can see Britney Spears quaking in her boots. One of her bandmates (and speaking of which, one of them is quite clearly smoking a cigarette within a high school room) comments, “That sizzles, Jackie! Totally celestial!” Now if we can only get you to sing like Enya, you could be too, Jackie! Our heroine comments for no particular reason, “Then it’s a wrap. Dad’s waiting at home. He thinks I’m at the library!” Thanks for providing exposition, Jackie! That’s totally celestial of you!

We cut back to- jeez, this comic’s pacing really needs to slow down for a minute. I know people don’t tend to like decompressed storyline, but there is such a thing as moving too fast, you know... Anyway, we cut back to her home where she gives good old dad her report card. Dad for some reason is drawn with a shirt that I can only imagine was designed by Rob Liefelds of Hollywood, since it’s really huge on him, to the point where the arms of the shirt are practically falling off of him and the shirt’s back shoots out from where he tucked it into his jeans. Dad congratulates her on the good report card and wishes her mother could’ve been around to see it.

Jackie goes upstairs on the pretense of getting ready for a date and the phone rings. Dad picks it up and right away the voice on the other line is, “Jackie, did you rehearse the new song you wrote? You’ll be a smash! Jackie? Hello, Jackie?” So, did the idiot on the other line even bother to wait to confirm it was her (especially since Jackie hasn’t seemed to make it a secret that her father disapproves of her singing)? Or does Officer Lou there just have such a womany voice that it’s easily mistaken for Jackie’s? Maybe that’s why we saw such roots of misogyny earlier – I’d be bitter if I was mistaken for a woman because of my voice during my life, probably getting ridiculed relentlessly by both men and women alike.

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Dad goes upstairs and tells her once again that he forbids her to sing and that she’s grounded. Oddly enough, the shading on it makes him look like he’s wearing a Nazi uniform and has a Hitler moustache. He reiterates that it supposedly destroyed her mother’s life and that he won’t allow it to happen to her. “No singing! No music! Nothing!” So I guess I-Pods are out of the question for birthday gifts, then? Jackie calls up her friends and informs them that she can’t sing and that they’ll have to use someone else. They inform her that they’ll have to use Melissa and, low and behold, the next day we see Melissa talking to Jackie. For some reason, Melissa seems to be suffering from Youngblood’s Disease since her eyes are non-existent for two panels and closed in another panel. See what happens when you let bad comics get produced, kids?

Melissa gloats, “They finally wised up, Jackie! Now I can prove I’m better than you! But don’t worry, sweetie. You won’t lose track of me. You’ll see my records on sale all over!” Man is she going to be disappointed when she walks into a Sam Goody and asks what the heck all the tiny discs are and where the records are supposed to be. Immediately Jackie runs into the friend she spoke to on the phone and berates him, “Thanks a ton, Johnny! It sure didn’t take you long to replace me!” Lady, you TOLD them you weren’t going to be able to do it and he said right there he’d ask Melissa!

The next page skips ahead a few years so she’s in college and apparently studying criminology. After class, a guy puts the moves on her with all the smoothness of the Fonz: “Never knew anyone so pretty could be so smart! How about a movie?” Yes, welcome to O. Fencive University, where pretty = dumb. She accepts the date (for reasons that elude this writer) but warns him not to try anything funny in the dark since her father’s a cop. But, enough of that scene! We then go to the next day, where Jackie and a friend of hers go to a music store. Shockingly, it’s all records [!!]. Okay, Stan Lee couldn’t have been THAT out of the loop. This comic was released in 1991 and CDs had been on the market for nine years at that point. Her friend mentions a singing contest and, after seeing that Melissa has actually made it big in the music industry, decides to go for it.

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Jackie gets home and thinks, “It’s early and Dad won’t be home yet. Just as well, I’ve got a lot of thinking to do!” And by thinking, she means speaking out loud to herself, which is what she does for the entire rest of the page (and throughout the comic). She comes to the conclusion that she’s an adult and has her own life, but she doesn’t want to hurt her father. “I don’t want to break my promise not to sing – but music is my life! I’ve got to try!” Promise to her father? What promise? She got ordered by her father not to pursue a singing career. “I know Mom would have understood!” Or she would’ve passed out on the couch with a bottle of gin in her hand, but I digress.

“My favorite comic book characters never have this problem!” Besides for, you know, all the ones that do have that sort of problem. Or maybe it’s just that her favorite comic book characters are the three featured behind her – “Catlass,” “Superfeline,” and “The Night Meow.” Yeeeeaaaah. Anyway, she realizes that “Comic book characters all have secret identities! All I need is a needle and thread!” And a design idea, and some cloth, and sewing skills (which weren’t exactly something we’ve heard about her possessing before), and the time necessary to devote to that creation.

And our ever-helpful narrator tells us: “And so the Night Cat is born!” And what does she make with just “a needle and thread?” It’s an all-leather ensemble with a cleavage-exposing V-line down her front that’s laced together as well as HUGE shoulder-pads, a black headband, tassels coming down from the shoulder pads, black electrical tape around her arms (or is that supposed to be cloth?), thigh-high high-heeled boots, and what I presume to be a black wig. Oh, and no mask. You know, I can suspend my disbelief with the Law of Flimsy Incognition only so much before this just becomes silly...

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After singing what I can only presume to be a Pop song about love that totally does not match up to the black leather, laser light shows, and etc. that we see in the above picture, Nightcat somehow manages to win the competition. Some oily record executives meet her after the show to have her sign the contract when she realizes she can’t use her own name. And of course, her reasoning is flawless: “Dad always calls me ‘Kitten,’ and my costume is dark, dark as night!” Not exactly “I must spread terror in the hearts of criminals, so I shall become a bat,” is it? The oily executive loves her suggestion of Night Cat, saying, “We’ll bill you as a singing super heroine! With your voice and our promos, you’ll be a sensation!”

Our narrator informs us, “In the music world, things move at lightning speed!” Is that anything like Ludicrous speed? “The Night Cat becomes the singing sensation of the nation!” She’s bigger then Jesus! After a montage of her showing up on the cover of Rolling Stone, Time, and on MTV (remember when MTV actually talked about music?), her agent assures her, “You’re a natural, Jacqueline! You’ve got beauty, talent, warmth!” And a nice pair of breasts that you let everyone stare at to forget your terrible singing! Jackie goes home, thinking about how she feels bad that she has to keep secrets from her father. When she comes in, her father informs her he’s going deep undercover – “Top secret cops and robbers stuff!” Gee willickers, I hope he gets to stop those naughty people who are hepped up on the drugs, boy golly!

It also turns out that her dad’s never even heard of Nightcat, so I guess it doesn’t really matter that she tries to conceal her identity. Jackie realizes that it’s getting to be too risky and that she needs to get a place of her own (probably a good idea since you’re like 26 from the looks of you). Also a note on the artwork – apparently someone was having fun with their photoshop airbrush, since every other time we see her, she’s got pink blushing on her, even in places she really shouldn’t have any blushing, like her lower arm or her cleavage [!].

Cut to the next page (jeez, THIS COMIC moves at lightning speed!), where she buys her own building, apparently [!!]. She talks to her agent about it, who tells her they’ll install a recording studio in it. “It’s -- too good to be true!” And then it turns out it’s all a dream and we can move on with our lives. No, we’re not that lucky. Folks, we’re only on page twelve here. “Why do I have this sudden feeling of danger ahead?” Because you’ve got a Spider-sense? Nah... Oh! Because you’re The Pumaman? Nah... Oh, I know! Because your music career’s going to fall over faster than Destiny’s Child? Yeah, that’s it.

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The next day (I am getting so damn tired of typing that...) Jackie is at the recording studio thinking about how much she wants her own recording studio ready (it’s only been one day, calm down!). She spots a rather grim-looking man walking down a hallway and he has quite the noticeable scar down his face (as well as being distinct in suffering from the aforementioned Youngblood’s Disease). She realizes that she’s seen him before from his picture in the paper and follows him, realizing he was a criminal in a drug bust.

Using her non-existent stealth skills, she waits until the guy goes to make a long distance call from a payphone (a payphone inside of a recording studio?) and decides that she has to see what’s inside of the metal case he’s carrying around. Somehow she reasons that the call will take him awhile to make and goes into a nearby office and opens it up, revealing that (GASP!) it’s filled with packets of cocaine! “This whole studio must be a headquarters for drug pushers!” Seems like quite a bit of a leap in logic, but then again I imagine if I didn’t have a recording studio in my apartment I’d probably make up crap, too. “But it can’t be! The building is owned by Amanda Gideon, the famous Millionairess!” Okay, first of all “Millionairess” is not a word. Second, cocaine use in the music industry?! It just can’t be true! My whole world has gone topsy-turvy!

All of a sudden, a metallic hand grasps her neck from behind and lifts her into the air (is everybody a ninja in this studio or something?)! It turns out to be a huge bald black guy who proclaims, “You’re a snoop! Miss Gideon don’t like snoops!” I wonder if, like Tim Drake, she doesn’t like country music. The scarred guy comes in and bald black guy with metal hand scolds him for almost losing the drugs. Somehow during this Nightcat fell unconscious and they carry her out back to a truck. Does this seem like a wise move? It seems to me that to avoid culpability they could just claim the guy was acting alone when he was carrying the drugs around and not try to drag a financial asset like Nightcat around. But then again I’m not an eeeeeevil recording studio that peddles drugs on the side.

Going across town, the narration caption tells us about Miss Amanda Gideon: “Heiress, real estate tycoon, night club owner! One of the wealthiest people in New York!” If that’s the case, then why in the hell is she a drug dealer? If she’s really that wealthy, she can pretty much get away with whatever she- oh, right. This is a comic book, so obviously being a rich capitalist makes her eeeeevil. Anyway, some of her goons are carrying boxes around and one points out that it isn’t healthy to wonder what Amanda Gideon does in her laboratories and, of course, we cut right into said laboratory, where a rather stereotypical-looking Doctor (with the light on his head and everything) is standing over an unconscious blonde man next to the aforementioned Miss Gideon. Oh, and this has got to be the worst laboratory in history, since apparently it consists of an operating table, a couple of various “scientific” looking doohickeys around it, as well as several cages filled with rabbits[!!!] stacked against a wall. Yes, because when you’re performing operations on the human body, it’s important to have live rodents nearby that no doubt engage in their business in their cages to make the place nice and sterilized.

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Amanda (Miss Gideon if you’re nasty) asks, “Is the subject ready for his injection, Dr. Ecstasy?” Dr. Ecstasy?! This was written by the guy who invented Spider-Man, right? Herr Doctor Ecstasy says he’s ready to inject him and we cut back to the goons, one of whom resembles Walter Matthau. The other goon (probably Jack Lemmon) points out that there’s more than just drugs going on in the place and of course, the Matthau goon tells him to shut up since people who ask questions are there end up dead. Cue Odd Couple music!

Back to the lab, where Dr. Ecstasy now looks like he’s had a seizure, since he’s grinning insanely and has one eye opened wide while the other’s closed. Miss Gideon tells him to inject the “gorilla serum” into the patient, and he does so. The man on the operating table immediately gives an expression as if he just got pinched on his butt and leaps off of the operating table. Dr. Ecstasy says, “Perfect! He thinks he’s an anthropoid ape!” And you know this simply because he jumped off a table? Hell, I’d be doing that if I was in a room with a guy called “Dr. Ecstasy.” “See his agility, his strength, his balance!” See his naughty bits, since he’s completely naked! Well okay, we don’t see them since it’s shadowed out, but I’m trying to understand how one gets “strength, agility, and balance” from a guy who just leaps twice. Oh, and then he falls over dead.

Miss Gideon points out it’s just like all the others, but Dr. Ecstasy says they’re getting closer since this was the best test. Miss Gideon tells him to keep trying and that she doesn’t care how many die. Miss Gideon walks out with the two goons in tow, who she tells not to “bandy my name around, fool!” But the Doctor was just calling you it and everyone knows who you- ah, forget it. Anyway, bald black guy with a metal hand, now identified as Krak by Miss Gideon, brings in the unconscious Nightcat. Miss Gideon recognizes her and says it’s unfortunate she had to find out, but that, “She’ll be a perfect subject for Professor Ecstasy!” Okay, now it’s Professor Ecstasy? Make up your mind, lady!

The Jack Lemmon stand-in remarks how she looks like Jackie- hey, he’s supposed to be Nightcat’s dad! I get it now! Wow, that’s a great twist! Krak starts carrying her away and Miss Gideon remarks, “Lucky girl! Her records may sell better than ever, once she’s dead!” Great, this is going to be Eddie and the Cruisers all over again, isn’t it? Dr. Ecstasy straps Nightcat to his operating table and decides to provide some exposition about his magical serums: “I’m creating a new designer drug, you see! It gives the user the same traits as the donor animal!” He explains this while he draws some blood from a cat and then extracts some more chemicals using the same syringe in a beaker with a skull and crossbones on it. “Mix the cat’s blood with other chemicals.” Other chemicals?! My God, Doctor, you’re mad!

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He then injects Nightcat with all of this. The dad thinks about how he can’t leave Nightcat alone in the lab with Dr. Ecstasy and realizes there’s only one possible excuse: “Look, I’m sorry -- gotta go to the bathroom! I’ll be right back!” I can’t imagine why this never made it to series. He returns to the lab and pulls out his gun. “Drop it, Mister. This is a bust!” You can say that again. Just as he starts to read him his Miranda rights, the good Dr. Ecstasy interrupts with a monologue that would’ve made me shoot him four times, but then again I’m not a policeman. “My, my! A noble minion of the law in our midst! Surely you wouldn’t interrupt a surgeon in the middle of a delicate operation. Especially when that operation -- will be on you!

Dr. Ecstasy grabs a scalpel and leaps right at Officer Dad, who subsequently shoots him dead. In a moment worthy of James Bond, Lou the Cop quips, “I had to do it. I don’t have Medicare!” See, folks? This is what happens you have government-funded health care. He helps Nightcat off the table, once again thinking that she looks like his daughter. The rest of the goons suddenly break in and open fire, shooting him at least seven times through the torso. Nightcat cries out with a dull expression, “Dad!” and holds him in her arms. He recognizes her as his daughter and she says she’ll spend her life making it up to him. Miss Gideon rolls her eyes and comments, “The female is beginning to bore me!” You’re not the only one.

She orders the goons to kill her, but with Churchillian determination, Nightcat’s nails suddenly spring out red claws and- wait, what the hell? Yes, they even make a “Snik!” sound, as if this was freaking Wolverine we were talking about. Stan’s narrator goes into full swing here: “And what had been a mere show-biz name... is now for real!” For r3alz?! w0wzers! “No longer is Jacqueline Tavarez a frail and vulnerable female!” Thanks, Stan. Thanks a whole bunch. “The injection of Dr. Ecstasy has finally been successful! And a snarling, hissing, clawing Night Cat strikes with the speed of a cougar!” Or the speed of a common house cat, since that’s where the serum came from...

Let’s not forget some useful fight dialogue from the goons: “She fights like she’s got nine lives!” Ha. Ha ha ha. Oh, how witty and ironic. “Stop ‘er! She can’t--” decide whether you should live or die? Oh, you’ll probably go to heaven, please don’t hang your head and cry; no wonder why my heart feels dead inside, it’s- hrmm? Oh, sorry, thought we were singing now. “Wrong! The Night Cat can!” Can what? For all she knows, he was going to say, “She can’t sing!”

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Anyway, to make a long story short (too late), Nightcat beats up all the goons as Miss Gideon and Krak walk away to a nearby helicopter. While Nightcat’s simply amazed in her newfound abilities, Miss Gideon is unconcerned about losing her goon squad: “She’s saving me the expense of having to pay those bumblers!” Way to look on the bright side, lady. Nightcat just tries to grab hold of the helicopter as it takes off, but it’s too far out of reach. Suddenly remembering that her father has been shot repeatedly, she runs back to him.

And so Nightcat and her father have a tearful (actually, no tears seem to be shed on either side and both have their eyes closed throughout the whole thing) goodbye as he dies. “I never wanted to disobey you! I love you, Dad!” “Hush-- Kitten -- I understand. You mustn’t -- cry. You -- had to follow your destiny... follow -- your heart.” What is this, The Long Goodbye? You’ve got over half a dozen bullets in your chest; you should be gargling blood at this point! “We all must do -- what we -- have to do. I’m -- proud of you... kitten.” Welcome to the William Shatner dialogue class... “Prouder -- than you’ll ever -- know...” Wow, this is really moving – in that I want to move away from the comic as quickly as I can.

The police soon arrive and in only one line of throwaway dialogue do they wonder what the officer’s daughter was doing there or how she knows that Miss Gideon is behind the drug ring. Jackie adopts the cat from the lab, naming it Midnight while the police tell her not to worry and that they’ll handle things. Later, they call her and say they’ve closed the case since there’s only evidence against the deceased Dr. Ecstasy and not Miss Gideon. Stan Lee apparently decided to take a Creative Writing class, since at the funeral we get this skillful narration: “The sky was bleak and overcast. The air damp, the chill wind sharp and stinging. A good cop had died. Nature herself seemed to be mourning.” Jeez, not since the pretentious narrator from Thunderstrike have I been so irritated by narration boxes.

After the funeral (which lasted all of two panels), Jackie goes back to her Dad’s home and speaks to herself: “I’ll move everything into my own apartment now. There’s nothing to keep me here anymore. How carefree I was when we took this photo! Who could have guessed how it would all end up?” Are we in a Shakespeare play now? Quit the soliloquy! “But why am I being so morbid?” Umm... Because your dad died? “This isn’t the end! It’s a new beginning! I’ll have the career Mom always wished for!” In your face, Mom! “Somewhere, somehow, I know she’ll be pleased. And Dad went out a hero, just as he would have wanted!” I think he would’ve wanted to live and catch the criminals, but that’s just me.

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And thus follows a brief montage of Jackie preparing herself to be a crime fighter by buying computers, new cars, working out, and taking a shower. Oh, and on the next page we learn she still attends classes, too. Riiiiight... She’s also discarding her friends like mad in favor of her new night life, telling the friend from the record store that she can’t go to a party and the blonde moron who admired her intelligence and prettiness that she can’t do anything with him. Following that happy sequence, we see she’s back in the recording studio making songs[!!!]! How in the hell is she still working?! Amanda Gideon owned the studio, thus also owning Nightcat’s contract! And the brilliant Jackie already blabbed her real name to a studio exec, so she must know who she is already!

Her agent walks in and tells her it’s time for her to start going on a concert tour. “No! I can’t! If I tour, Amanda Gideon will always know where to find me! That mustn’t happen – until I’m ready for her!” Always know where you are?! You’re going into her recording studio and making songs through her company! She ALREADY knows where you are! You have in fact done NOTHING to conceal yourself! But the scary thing is this isn’t even the most completely implausibly stupid thing in this comic. Oh no, behold:

It’s at this moment that STAN LEE WALKS INTO THE ROOM[!?!?]. Yes, true believers, you read that correctly. Stan Lee actually walks in and says he likes her style and wants to make her into a superhero. You know, I like to joke around that DC’s Identity Crisis is the best piece of fanfiction that I’ve ever read, but this is just... I don’t usually mind a story where an author injects themselves as the main protagonist in the story (I’m guilty of it myself in order to do a story commenting on Mary Sue fiction), but this is just... Wow. I’ll let the panels speak for themselves:

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In the next panel, Stan actually has the gall to write this: “Hey! Talk about dangerous precedents! After this, the whole blushin’ bullpen will wanna see themselves in every future Nightcat story! -- Sneaky Stan.” Words fail me. Suddenly I understand the real reason why this thing was only one issue long. Anyway, back to, you know, the story – Nightcat apparently knows some local arms manufacturer since she has them build some sort of special weapons for her. Oh, and she even uses her own name while in the Nightcat costume! “I created these weapons as you requested, Miss Tavarez. But I don’t know why--?” “The reasons are my own!” she responds. Yeah, that’ll put down any suspicions.

Back at her apartment, Nightcat grumpily states, “I’ve got the most sophisticated computers money can buy. And I’ve fed them everything I know about Amanda Gideon’s operations! But I still can’t get a handle on what she’s doing -- or where she’s doing it!” Lady, just because you type in “Amanda Gideon is a mean drug-dealing criminal who kind of shot my dad and gave me superpowers” into a text box on Windows 3.1 doesn’t mean it’s going to give you all the answers! “Could be I’m trying too hard.” Or you’re not trying at all and expecting some computer to just work things out for you. She turns on the TV, giving us some poor exposition:

--and, due to the pollution problem, the garbage scow has been floating from port to port -- with no city willing to accept the trash!” This has been Plot Convenience News, providing you with relevant plot information since Thunderstrike #1! And by the by, this little piece of news is probably referencing the Mobro 4000, a garbage scow that had been famously shipped from harbor to harbor by a few idiots in the 1980s who thought they could make a quick buck by selling the trash to another city to take it off their hands. But the fact of the matter is that no one seemed to understand, it wasn’t a pollution problem, it was that no one wants to buy or take other people’s garbage.

Anyway, this somehow makes Nightcat have this rather large leap of logic: “A garbage scow! Wouldn’t that be a perfect place for Amanda Gideon to hide her drugs!” Erm, seems like a terrible place to hide drugs, but then I’m not an eeeeevil rich drug-dealer. Nightcat, somehow possessing the hacking skills later utilized by Oracle in the DC Universe, hacks into the garbage company’s files and discovers that Gideon owns the company. So, wait, if the garbage scow going from port to port was owned by Gideon and being used for her drug operations, then why was she trying to unload the thing to other cities?

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A narration caption that reads “And so...*” leads to a box where Stan happily writes: “Wouldja believe we get paid for writing captions like that?!! -- Incredulous Stan.” Excuse me for a moment, I have to go hit myself repeatedly in the head with a tire iron. ... Okay, I’m back now. Nightcat arrives at the port and spots where a group of goons are loading drugs into a truck. She now apparently is sporting a Minbari fighting pike and she leaps down with it and takes out the driver, deciding at that moment to change the radio station[!]. She then takes out the lights and the goons go for their guns.

Nightcat promptly starts beating up all the goons and one of them opens fire on her. Apparently, the powers of a housecat allow her to spin her weapons around really fast and deflect bullets with the staff[!!]. Mindmistress, eat your heart out. One of the goons tries to run away, but Nightcat unveils her next great weapon she got from the arms dealer – A FLASHLIGHT! Well, okay, it’s apparently some big blinding light that confuses the runner, but it looks like a tiny handheld flashlight. With the goons defeated, Nightcat decides it’s time for her to talk to herself again: “Claws! Night vision! Feline agility!” Heart! “This Night Cat bit isn’t too shabby! I was right -- a truckful of drugs! Lucky I came prepared for a little encore!” I can just imagine the embarrassment that would’ve followed if it turned out these guys were from the Coast Guard and were just getting some medical supplies off the boat.

But instead of turning them in to the police, Nightcat decides to just load up the truck full of drugs up with explosives and sends it careening off the dock and into the garbage scow, blowing them both up. Well, thanks for polluting up the New York harbor even more, Nightcat! And now we get to see Nightcat’s glorious vehicle – the Cat-illac! Yes, it’s seriously spelled like that. And the car looks nothing like a cat or a Cadillac, instead looking like this hideous blue thing with green headlights, fins along the front of it and huge monster-truck wheels. All I want to know is if it can slice a cop car in half. “If I say so, myself, I wasn’t half bad for a rookie superhero!” Yeah, you blew up all the evidence and left a dozen suspects unconscious on a peer. You’re doing real well there, Nightcat.

Over to Miss Gideon, who spends an entire day hearing about how Nightcat keeps screwing up her life, from learning about her drug shipment getting messed up while she fights off three heavily-muscled men to going to a book signing and hearing about her courier getting knocked out and then having her chauffer get tied up while at a casino. So Nightcat just spends her whole day attacking people who probably didn’t do anything wrong just to piss off Miss Gideon? And what does Amanda Gideon have to say about it? “Amanda Gideon will not be taunted by a nowhere pop star!” THEN FIRE HER! Your company owns her contract, you idiot!

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Apparently her agent knows about her double-life as a superhero, since Jackie gets an RSVP invitation for Nightcat to play at Miss Gideon’s casino and he states, “Jacqueline, it could be a trap!” “Of course it is! That’s why nothing could stop me from going.” I- huh?! And if that made sense to you, in the next panel she’s driving in her cat-illac (Man, what would’ve happened if Dick Grayson, Age Twelve had been kidnapped by Nightcat?) and she proclaims, “Lucky my four ninja-style dancers were available.” Wow. Over at the stage, said Ninja-style Dancers (*Snickers*) have been roped up by... real ninjas! Yes, they’re all wearing the same black outfits and masks that cover up everything but their eyes and they proudly say, “It was thoughtful of Nightcat to send you to us!” “But we felt that real ninjas would make the act more authentic.” Is there no honor among ninjas and ninja-style dancers?! Such a feud could likely result in an alliance between pirates and ninja-style dancers! I’m sorry, but I frankly think the phrase “Ninja-style Dancers” is up there among greatest comic book lines in all of history. Anyway, the real ninjas exposit that they’re going to kill Nightcat at the end of her show.

Sadly, instead of seeing the epic battle that could’ve resulted with Hip Hop Aikido to the tune of the Ninja Rap from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, we have to once again be subjected to Nightcat’s singing. “Timeless and precious / The moments we share / In a world where love’s so rare!/ It seemed like forever / I’ve waited for you / But now that you’re here / I know that it’s true.” Well, it hardly seems worth it, but… BOOOOO! At the finale, Nightcat realizes that something’s odd about her Ninja-style Dancers. “Strange! My dancers seem so heavy!” What, did she lift them up or something before the show?

One of the ninjas suddenly attacks her with his sword and she realizes that this is the trap that Miss Gideon had planned for her. And so, we have a brief fight scene of Nightcat facing off against the ninjas. As cameoin’ Stan narrates, “The ninjas are skillful, deadly. But they’ve never fought a fearless feline before!” Yeah, that dedication and training to being a ninja is nothing when you go up against a mediocre singer who’s been injected with cat blood and had a training montage. Nightcat claims that “The audience is eating it up!” However, no one seems to be clapping or cheering or anything. They in fact look pretty bored by Nightcat smacking around ninjas. She decides she might as well keep singing (NOOOO!), and thus does so as she takes out the last few ninjas.

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Nightcat returns to her dressing room, where Krak is waiting for her. There’s a brief exchange of banter about how Miss Gideon wants her eliminated and blah, blah... You know, I’d pay good money for a comic about some Ninja-style dancers at this moment. Krak attacks Nightcat, who easily dodges the brick of a guy with a metal hand. We also get a pointless panty shot between her legs, which with the coloring makes her look like a blow-up doll. Krak finally manages to stab a knife into Nightcat’s leg, stopping her for the moment. Oh, and get this, to finish her off, he decides to replace his metal hand with a drill attachment. Folks, we’re starting to get into ASBAR levels of ridiculous with this.

Nightcat pulls the dagger from her leg and tosses it at Klak, hitting him square in the chest. However, much to her surprise, Klak is still coming and she realizes she can use the drill to her advantage. She grabs his drill arm and shoves it into a power outlet, electrocuting him. I’ve got to say, this scene actually played out pretty well, but then again I was imagining that Klak was the villain Black Mask and that Nightcat was Stephanie Brown, which made it richly satisfying. On the next page, she runs into the hallway where more goons await her. After another pointless panty-shot, she leaps over them and towards an elevator. What’s confusing about this is that the door was clearly closed when she leapt over the goons, but then the next panel shows the doors closing again. We had not only an editor but an assistant editor as well and no one caught this?

The goons warn the people on the top floor that she’s on her way up, but when the elevator doors open there, all that’s in the elevator car is a gas bomb. Cutting to the next panel, we discover Nightcat has somehow gotten outside and is scaling the building with just her claws[!!!]. She thinks to herself, “My new cat’s instinct warns me of danger on the roof!” Okay, so not only do we get a blatant recycling of Spider-Man’s wall-crawling, but his spider-sense, too?! Look, Stan, you’re not a one-note writer, so stop rehashing your successes!

Nightcat reaches the roof, where Miss Gideon is waiting for her, proclaiming that she’ll finally be rid of her forever. Nightcat replies, “I dunno, for a modern, happening chick, you sure sound like a dork!” Oh, I get it – Stan’s gone senile, so he thinks he’s back in the 1960s writing Spider-Man. Gideon leaps at Nightcat and I’ll spare you the rant I could be making about the fact that Nightcat is fighting off this woman while wearing high heels or that Gideon’s basically fighting in her underwear. Gideon goes for the knife wound in her leg (which has apparently stopped bleeding. It must be that relative healing power of a housecat or something).

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Nightcat manages to fight back, calling Gideon out on her drug-dealing. Gideon balks in return, “Don’t speak to me of scruples! Some of us are above any moral law!” Nightcat calls back, “Wrong adjective, sweetie! You’re further below than a belly-crawling slug!” Boy, you really read the riot act to her, Nightcat. Ouch. Nightcat then pulls out her flashlight and shines it irritatingly in her eyes. “Oh no, light that’s slightly brighter than the city we’re around!” she cries out. Okay, no she doesn’t, but frankly that would’ve been more interesting to hear than Nightcat’s thought balloon of, “Now! I’ll blind her with my cat’s eye light!” Look, you’re an embarrassment to singers and superheroes and singing superheroes!

And then she... Actually, I have no idea what the hell she does. It looks like she just headbutted Miss Gideon by bringing her head down really fast, which somehow made Miss Gideon turn upside down and tumble away from her. Miss Gideon grabs hold of Nightcat’s hair, holding it for support as she goes over the edge. This also seems to reveal that this was her real hair the whole time[!!]. Miss Gideon proclaims that she’ll never let go, but Nightcat just cuts off the strand she’s holding onto with her claws, sending her to her death. Nightcat quips, “My act is strictly solo!”

And so we come to our last page and- erg... More singing. She dedicates the song to her mother and father and screeches, “Don’t change, don’t change! Stay that way. You’re okay.” BRING ON DAZZLER! “Don’t change, don’t change! No one else could ever be the same!” After the show, Nightcat walks out of the back of whatever seedy bar she was singing at, where appropriately there’s only one reporter and cameraman waiting for her. He asks, “The Gideon drug ring is smashed thanks to you! Any comment?” How did she smash it? Was it when she heroically sang while fighting ninjas? Maybe when she courageously blew up evidence? Or was it when she bravely electrocuted a guy with a metal hand? Or perhaps it was when she chivalrously let a woman fall to her death?

Nightcat responds, “Just one. To all the human jackals who prey on helpless, innocent victims -- the cat has just begun to prowl!” And there you have it, folks, the life and high point of America’s Hottest Singing Sensation. Be sure to stay tuned in for a very special episode of VH1’s Behind the Music where we learn how Nightcat’s career tragically ended that very night when she was arrested for several murders as well as driving a cat-illac that didn’t have proper documentation.


Mela said...

This is like some horrible, grim & gritty revision of Dazzler. Seriously, even the stuff with her mother being a failed musician and her father being against a musical career. Alison had style, though.

And that tabby on the cover looks like it wants to play with Jackie's shoulder fringe.

Anonymous said...

Waitwaitwait...Marvel got upset that a musician appeared in a music video? Oh wait, it was because she showed up in a Joey Buttafuoco music video. That explains it. I should also note that this site has more information about NightCat.

The whole "comic books always make wealthy people eeee-vil" is thing is something that always annoys me.
What about Batman, Iron Man (okay, bad example), and Richie Rich? Fromw hat I can tell, the use of wealthy villains is an attempt at realism combined with the fact that more money = more bribes, exotic weaponry, etc. It's not like a villain like "The Vagrant" would seem like a big threat. Hell, Carjack taught us that lesson all too well.

By the way, is there any chance that you'll take a crack at "Manga Messiah?"

-Atomic Mystery Monster

Lewis Lovhaug said...

I'm afraid not in the foreseeable future, but I don't put it beyond the realm of possibility. For the moment I'd prefer to stick with bad American comics until I've gotten a bigger fanbase (or unless someone does a guest review).

In Batman's case, he's not as much of an eeeeevil capitalist because as we've seen, Lucius Fox runs most of the day-to-day operatons of Wayne Enterprises while he just utilizes its technology. Iron Man USED to be an eeeeevil Capitalist when he was exclusively a weapons dealer, but then he changed his ways and focused his evilness on other superheroes instead of just his greed (Civil War: Frontline does not exist. You can't prove it.). Richie Rich, as I recall, is a child and therefore beyond the understanding of the full market capabilities at his disposal. Plus he's not involved with superheroes.

Actually, "The Vagrant" sounds mildly cool and I'm sure Grant Morrison could do something with him.

Ing said...

Maxwell Lord was an anti-heroly ambivalently good capitalist.

As was Booster

Blue Beetle was an out right Goooooooooooooooood capitalist.

Also I will gladly do a guest review for you Lewis

Lewis Lovhaug said...

Write it up and send it to me with scanned captions, Ing! ^_^

RocketeerZ said...

Brilliant. Simpley brilliant.

Oh GOD, Not Nightcat! Your review!

I wonder... they never went as far to relase a Nightcat CD right?

Oh jeez.. I think I just felt a neuron in my head misfire!

Lewis Lovhaug said...

As I recall, while there was never a Nightcat CD per se, the actress who was hired to be Nightcat at conventions did release a CD. I'm not sure how much the songs match up to the ones in the comic, but I fear a repeat of Heidi Montag's "Higher" song if it's true.

Anonymous said...

Yes, there is a Nightcat CD. 9 tracks, released on BMG / RCA in `91. Haven't listened to it yet, but I have it in front of me - just came across this site looking for more info about Nightcat.

InvisibleBrunette said...

I'd call her a Catwoman, or Black Cat wannabe, but those chicks are kick-butt, and Nightcat.... Well I honestly don't think she even fits into the category of wannabe. How can someone come up with something as brilliant as Spiderman, then have something as stupid as Nightcat!?