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Catwoman (V.2)

Ame-Comi Heroine Series
by Artemis

I really think DC could make a go of this Ame-Comi thing - get a good cheesecakey-fun manga team in (writer as well as artist) and just let them go wild in their own little Elseworld corner of the DCU. Like Marvel's Ultimate line, but not so dull, and only up its own arse in the sense that there'd probably be lots of panty shots. Or they could just go whole hog and license an actual anime series, like Top Cow did quite successfully with Witchblade. They won't, of course - aside from DC having stupidly limited the number of parallel worlds available to them (and then wasting the majority of them anyway), there's the whole "they're all barely legal whores" perception that I doubt DC editorial will have the balls to shrug off. I'm not saying it's not a natural misconception to have, mind you - I mean, look at them.

This cat has nine lives! After the first version of Ame-Comi Catwoman disappeared quicker than a 10-karat diamond into a cat burglar's bag, Catwoman is back, stunning in her updated green and purple costume. Claws unsheathed and tail twitching in anticipation of her next big score, this feline fancies playing the purrrfect game of cat and mouse.

Well, that may be rose-tinting the first Catwoman's sales just a tad - she was no pegwarmer, but neither was she as hard to find as a DCU figure (for one thing, DC Direct actually bothered making enough of them, and sending them to stores too; it's a crazy way to do business, I know). And compared to Selinanime v1's stripped-down leather fetishwear ensemble (and indeed the rest of series one and two), more recent Ame-Comi figures have been a huge improvement in terms of distinctiveness, imagination, and encapsulation of both their core characters and how they might be reimagined in the land of the rising sun, so I doubt many people are kicking themselves for missing out on the first series. Still, you can't really fault a company for talking up its products, and the lackluster first try does make this new version a worthwhile endeavour.

Adding to her worth, Catwoman v2 is anime-izing an entirely different costume, so you'd have to be pretty petty to complain about her not being a "new" character. In place of the current black leather, Catty is sporting the purple dress and green cape she first wore in 1947, and stuck with for the better part of two decades until Eartha Kitt's appearance on the Batman TV show in the '60s prompted a redesign - and which she returned to later, until it morphed into the purple skintight bodysuit that preceded the leather look. It was a rather racy little number too, with the skirt slit provocatively high - but of course, this is anime, so they're going to want a little more skin on show, resulting in the "dress" now consisting of little more than an almost backless bustier with a loincloth attached.

The trailing cloth, echoing the way the old dress used to flap about showing off her thighs, does a lot to link the anime-styled costume to its origin, even though otherwise it's really only the short cape and the basic colour scheme they share. Ticking off the "look like core character" box early leaves the figure free to have some fun with the rest of its design, resulting in a stylized cat's face forming the bustier front - with the central reinforcing seam in the push-up bra doubling as the vertical slits in the eyes, nice touch. Befitting Selina's status as a regular human mixing it up in a superpowered world, she's got techy gauntlets and boots, both in matching purple and green, with dark steel claws; the boots also have cat's faces built into the shin guards.

The generally darkish costume makes for a strong contrast with the ample acreage of exposed skin, although compared to many of her Ame-Comi sisters, Catwoman v2 is noticeably darker in complexion - her dusky skin tone benefits from being unpainted soft-look plastic, rather than flat paint, greatly enhancing the realism (if that's the right word for an anime figure). One irritating paint point, though, is her thong, which at the back is sculpted to disappear between her buttocks, but is painted much wider so as to avoid the impression of a naked backside. I really don't mind much either way - partly that any covering up of what was intended to be nakedness (or near enough) gets my anti-censorship hackles up (it's a bottom, people, it's not going to hurt anyone), but it's mostly that I'm just annoyed that the question of how much to reveal wasn't sorted out properly before sculpting was finalized.

Naturally Selina has the usual anime hallmarks: the triangular face, the cute button nose, the big eyes - she scores one over several of her predecessors, though, by preserving the sidelong glance from her concept art, rather than having her eyes revert to staring straight ahead. Her eye shadow is less obvious than it is in the art, which makes it difficult to spot how her eyes are seductively lidded, and the paint on her mouth doesn't quite pick out the hint of teeth showing between her slightly parted lips, but the characterful, sly expression still comes through. Her costume cat's ears are mounted on a bulky headset, with dark metal ear covers and an antenna on one side, continuing the "high-tech cat burglar" look.

Like other recent Ame-Comi figures, this one has a couple of joints to its name - nothing drastic, but it seems like they've decided that if a figure had a usable seam anyway, they may as well not lock it off. Sadly the head is immobile, but she's got swivel wrists, and a swivel at the top of the tail - the intention is for her hands to be facing backwards, claws drawn behind her back, but there's a little room to tweak them and the tail to your satisfaction, which is worth mentioning.

Selina gets the same circular base as all the other girls - the consistency is appealing, especially with a large collection, although as with many of the Ame-Comi figures whose stances aren't especially wide, it does eat up more shelf space than is necessary. The base's two pegs plug into the armoured high heels, and they're very tight fits - I had to apply real force to get the pegs fully seated, and even now the balls of her feet aren't actually touching the base. Her posture has a slight backwards lean, but it's balanced enough on the back leg (the left) that I don't imagine "wilting" over time will be a problem.

As I said, regardless of her being the second Ame-Comi Catwoman, this is an entirely new figure, both technically and creatively - and with the line having covered 13 characters already, I'm willing to cut them some slack (though I'm glad to see more new characters in future series). Add to that that the first Catwoman was among the early, so-so efforts, and this one becomes even more desirable. She may not be the current Catwoman, but I'd say if you're only going to have one in the Ame-Comi style, there's no question that this is the one.

-- 10/29/09

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