Catwoman – That Darn Zipper

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Art by Jen Overstreet

Catwoman’s suit is a metaphor for the character herself. She’s sexy, sneaky, and willing to use anything at her disposal to get what she wants. Catwoman has always used her feminine wiles (whatever that means) to advance her cause, but never before has a uniform most obviously said this for her.

Let’s take a quick jog down memory lane: the light purple funsuit from the 1966 TV show, the animated series gray thing that mirrored Batman’s color scheme, Michelle Pfeiffer’s stitched together vinyl one-piece, the maroon and clinging nightmare from the nineties, and The Dark Knight Rises‘ play on Catwoman’s current stealth-suit – complete with little ears and huge stilettos. None of these suits really express the complexity to Catwoman’s character in the way Darwyn Cooke’s uniform does. One look at the character and you know exactly who she is and what she’s capable of – she’ll rob you blind and you’ll beg for more.

The zipper is enticement, when used properly it can disarm her enemies without her ever needing to use her real weapons, namely her whip. The zipper is potential – Catwoman could, with minimal effort, slip the thing down for easy distraction. The zipper is all about Catwoman’s sexuality and is a constant running commentary on her writers’ use of it.

Catwoman toes every line she’s given – friend or foe? Petty thief or supervillain? Coy flirt or explicit sex kitten? Her suit carries with it a duality as well. She uses her whip as a weapon or as a means of transportation, much like how Batman uses his grappling gun (also as a fashionable belt!). The goggles protect her identity, when she wants it protected, and have night vision capabilities that really come in handy when she’s breaking into a museum in the dead of the night.

Her suit, with the long zipper running down the front of it, can be used in more than one way: practical in that it’s a literal catsuit, tight so it doesn’t snag on corners or broken glass, black so she’s hard to see. But Catwoman is also aware of what she looks like in the suit, and how she can use that to her advantage. The zipper, therefore, is able to transform the suit from a practical garment into it’s very own weapon. Catwoman’s sexuality is a weapon: zipper up and it’s holstered, zipper down and it’s not.

Which is why I prefer Catwoman when the zipper is pulled all the way up, collar flush with her neck. See, Catwoman is a character that uses what she’s got to get what she wants, but she’s also a character that can slip away in the shadows, vault from roof to roof, escape through a window without her ever being noticed. Catwoman is most effective when her sexiness is merely a part of her character, not the whole shebang.

Give me a Catwoman who uses her zipper in moderation, rather than as an excuse to have a built-in boob window, and I’m a happy comics reader. I’m all for sexy characters and female characters who know that they can use their own bodies however they please, but I’m also for complex characters, like Catwoman.

Let’s have more Catwomans in comics. Zipper up.

Jen Overstreet is an illustrator, multimedia artist, musician, and aspiring magical girl.  See her work, selfies, and photos of food on twitter & tumblr.

Click HERE for more on A Long Halloween, our month-long series of Batman essays and art.

Post By Christina Harrington (23 Posts)

Deadshirt Assistant Editor. Writer. MFA. Find her fiction in Crack the Spine and Eunoia Review.

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