richardak: (Default)
[personal profile] richardak posting in [community profile] scans_daily
I was a reader of the various Superman titles in the eighties and nineties, and I was a fan of the character of Cat Grant (even though I did want Clark to end up with Lois eventually), and I have to confess to being very dismayed by how her character has been portrayed in more recent comics. So I thought I'd post some scans portraying her and her relationship with Clark from back then, sort of to set the record straight.

These first are five pages from The Adventures of Superman #429.

The plot here is pretty self-explanatory: Cat "drags" Clark on a weekend ski trip with her. I put "drags" in quotation marks because, for all his seeming reluctance, I think he really wants to go.

I think it's interesting to note that the writer, Marv Wolfman, makes a point of letting us know in that fourth panel that even though the two of them go away on a romantic weekend together out of town, and share a hotel suite, they are not sharing a bed. Otherwise, readers might very well assume that the two of them were sleeping together. As it is, that does seem to be the subtext here, a point I'll return to later.  It should also be mentioned that Cat clearly is, or sees herself as being a bit of a femme fatale, at least to judge by her personalized license plate.  Byrne, as we'll see later, placed more emphasis on that aspect of her character.



It's also worth noting that Clark has gotten sufficiently lost in the moment in that first panel that he nearly lets his secret slip. On one level, that's a fairly typical sort of slip-up for Clark to make, and has been since at least the fifties (George Reeves had lines like that all the time.) On the other hand, it does show that he really is getting lost in the moment with her. Also of note is that Jerry Ordway's art is a little unclear in the fourth panel: do they kiss, but not very deeply before they are interrupted, or do their lips not quite touch at all?


In this page, we find out a little more about who Cat is as a person. Firstly, she gives us an idea of what it is she loves about Clark, and it's clear that she actually understands him rather well. I think it's also pretty clear that she has already fallen for him pretty hard. They are then interrupted again, this time by a television newscast that leads us more information about Cat's past. It's not pretty.


This introduces us to the subplot of Cat's son Adam, and her ultimately successful efforts to reconcile with him and win back custody, although his story definitely has a sad ending. It's worth noting, however, that this is what brings Clark and Cat's burgeoning romance to an end: she ultimately has to move away from Metropolis in order to be with her son. While she eventually moved back, I believe that it was in that interval that Clark became irrevocably involved with Lois.

These next few scans show a different side of Cat, which is not surprising, since, given that they're from Superman #11, they're by John Byrne instead of Wolfram and Ordway. This issue, incidentally, was the first post-Crisis appearance of Mr. Mxyzptlk, which is the reason for Jimmy's signal watch going off below. In these first two panels, though, we see Cat making a date with Clark.



Later on, after Superman has defeated Mxyzptlk and rescued Lois, she rethinks her feelings toward Clark, at least for the moment.


This is why it's always a good idea to call ahead.



Now, it's pretty clear that Cat is being pretty short, even downright rude with Lois here.  But I remember thinking then, and I still think now, that she has every right to be.  After all, even though it wasn't Lois' fault that she missed her lunch date with Clark, the fact is that Cat is on a date with him now, and Lois is showing up unannounced and uninvited.  Especially since, at this point, Lois is ambivalent at best about her feelings for Clark, while Cat is openly in love with him.

There are a few other things worth discussing here.  First, is the evident fact that it Byrne and Wolfman had somewhat different conceptions of who the character was supposed to be.  Both portray her as being quite open about her pursuit of Clark, but Wolfman writes her as desiring Clark emotionally and physically, while Byrne's version places more emphasis on her lust for him, and is also perhaps a little conniving.  Even Byrne's version is nowhere near the way she is written today, though.

The second thing is the easy intimacy between Clark and Cat here.  She's over at his house, barefoot and briefly dressed, making him dinner while he showers.  It seems clear to me that we are meant to think that Lois thinks the two of them are lovers.  The question for me is whether she is right.  Now, canonically, the two of them never consummated their affair.  The subtext here, however, is if anything even stronger than on the ski trip.  I do wonder whether there was a dispute behind the scenes, whether between Byrne and Wolfman, or between both writers and the DC editors, or who knows what, over whether or to what degree to portray Cat and Clark as physically intimate.

The third point I would make is the overall role Cat serves in the story.  At a time when Lois was still only in love with Superman and not very interested in Clark, Cat was her opposite number.  She was openly in love (and lust) with Clark, while only thinking of Superman the way any typical Metropolitan would.

Lastly, while it's clear here that Cat had made some serious mistakes in her life, and was certainly far from perfect even by this point, the fact remains that she was a fully realized, three dimensional character, and a basically good person.  It's also clear that Cat was in love with Clark for the good that she saw in him.  Even though I was glad that Clark eventually ended up with Lois, I was a fan of Cat Grant, and I am very unhappy with how the character of that same name is portrayed in the comics now.

Recommended tags: char: Cat Grant, char: Superman/Clark Kent, char: Lois Lane, creator: John Byrne, creator: Marv Wolfman, creator: Jerry Ordway, title: Adventures of Superman, title: Superman

Date: 2010-02-05 07:06 am (UTC)
sherkahn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sherkahn
The man who can hear clouds brush together and cells divide can't tell who was at the door?

Really?

Date: 2010-02-05 08:40 am (UTC)
tanetris: (Rainbow baby-Terry)
From: [personal profile] tanetris
He really should still be able to hear Cat call her Lois twice, though, wouldn't you think?

Date: 2010-02-05 07:39 pm (UTC)
tanetris: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tanetris
Considering it's his apartment and any visitor is necessarily there to see him, I don't see any way that that could be considered "eavesdropping"

I agree that there is a possibility he didn't want to let Cat know that he knew, but A: it's really not that hard of an explanation that her voice happened to carry, or even to have him speeding things up to walk in the living room sooner. Seems more like avoiding awkwardness than protecting the secret. B: In that case, I would expect some sort of thought bubble "I'll make it up to Lois sometime" or suchlike.

Date: 2010-02-07 03:49 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] jlbarnett
he could have also said something like "Was that Lois?" to suggest he only heard part of the conversation and not really clearly.

Date: 2010-02-05 07:26 am (UTC)
arbre_rieur: (Default)
From: [personal profile] arbre_rieur
It strikes me that that's sort of Geoff Johns's MO in a nutshell. He latches onto two or three traits of a character and then plays up traits those over and over again, as if that's all the character's about. See: Johns's Parasite, whose every other line of dialog is about his greed and how he covets what other people have.

Date: 2010-02-05 07:35 am (UTC)
aaron_bourque: default (Default)
From: [personal profile] aaron_bourque
He latches onto two or three traits of a character and then plays up traits those over and over again, as if that's all the character's about.

And with characters like Hal Jordan, who only really have three or four traits, it can work . . .

Date: 2010-02-05 07:34 am (UTC)
aaron_bourque: default (Default)
From: [personal profile] aaron_bourque
Although I can see why, since Clark is now happily married, they kind of couldn't go with this sort of angle for Cat anymore.

Date: 2010-02-05 08:25 am (UTC)
arbre_rieur: (DC Nation)
From: [personal profile] arbre_rieur
Plus, there's already another character, Lola Barnett, that could have easily filled the role Johns drafted Cat Grant to play.

Date: 2010-02-05 07:38 am (UTC)
foxhack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] foxhack
That second comic kinda sorta makes me feel ill.

Date: 2010-02-05 03:21 pm (UTC)
foxhack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] foxhack
Something about Cat Grant dressing up and acting like that really bothers me.

Date: 2010-02-05 09:48 am (UTC)
yaseen101: (Default)
From: [personal profile] yaseen101
I have an issue of Superman with me from the Super mullet era where Cat and Superman head to the Prison to meet with Winslow Schot after he killed Cat's son. Later one of the first modern Superman comics I picked up was the one where Cat has a boob job and tries to seduce Clark. Once I realized that the Super-mullet era Cat and this Cat were one in the same, I literally did a double take with added WTF?!!.

I never really gave much thought about Cat Grant after that but it's clearly the current one needs to be under the pen of someone like Rucka.

Date: 2010-02-05 10:33 am (UTC)
jlroberson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jlroberson
Well, first of all, I like to pretend this whole period of Superman never happened, especially anything done by Jurgens, so that's my bias. I just don't like Molsen Golden Superman. Or Supermullet either. See, that's the consequence of making him a jock: eventually, he was going to get that hair.

I also always hated how her son's death ended up being all about HER and getting to grips with HERself. I liked her kid better than her.

Thirdly, though, Cat Grant was always basically somewhere to put the bits of Lola Barnett and, when she was in her "urban-and-sophisticated" phase, Lana Lang. So there's nothing amiss in portraying her this way now--and Grant Morrison in ALL-STAR SUPERMAN beat Johns to it, anyway. Though his Cat was more like the knowing quasi-drag queen Morrison likes to slip into many of his works in larger or smaller roles, like Lord Fanny(who is more than quasi, of course) or Emma Frost, who did not quite talk that way before Grant had her, as I recall. But the "how big is it?" line? Grant was there first.

But really, Cat's supposed to be a foil, an antagonist, a secondary character and comic relief--otherwise why make her a gossip columnist? If she's not these things, if she's as Jurgens has her, she becomes redundant--a Lois who's not as good as Lois. So I don't weep over this.

Date: 2010-02-05 11:33 am (UTC)
jlroberson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jlroberson
>>What period of Superman are you referring to, exactly? From right after Crisis on Infinite Earths until when? And what on earth do you mean by "Molsen Golden Superman"? Or by calling him a jock? When was he a jock?

I'm referring for pretty much the entire Byrne and post-Byrne period, pretty much up until Johns started rewriting his history. (I realize that to anyone born after 1985, this Superman IS Superman, but that wasn't always the case.)

Byrne had him as a football star in high school. Read MAN OF STEEL. The "Molsen Golden" reference comes from an old review from the Comics Journal where they were saying he was coming across less an everyman under Byrne than the kind of yuppie you'd see back then in the commercials for that beer.

The similarities? Well, back then Lana was rather, well, there's no other word for it--bitchy toward Lois, and a rival. Also a world-travelled sophisticate(and a professor's daughter)--Byrne removed all that. Lola? It's obvious: gossip columnist, not to mention closeness to Morgan Edge.

"Quasi-drag queen" would mean a character who has the exaggerations one associates with a classic, well, drag queen, but isn't actually one, but rather perhaps a female character written with that kind of exaggerated, jaded wit, possibly with double-entendre. Are you so annoyed about my comment because you thought I was saying something homophobic? I am using the word in its strict sense.They perform. It's a profession.(I'm not referring to all TS/TG. I mean specifically, performing drag queens) Ever seen it? I lived in both Chicago and the San Francisco area and I can assure you it's very entertaining. And their mannerisms are something I don't think I should have to catalogue here--I think it's pretty well-established in the culture, and shared by people like Quentin Crisp, who very much is putting on a public character consciously. Lord Fanny was the template in Morrison's works, and Emma Frost, you'll notice, talks just like Fanny did.

As for the rest about Cat...fine, your opinion. But I hope I clarified whatever got you so worked up.

Date: 2010-02-05 03:33 pm (UTC)
wizardru: Hellboy (Default)
From: [personal profile] wizardru
" I admit I hadn't ever read that Comics Journal review you mentioned, which is why the Molsen Golden comment made no sense to me; also, I don't know much about beer ads."

That's most likely because you like mainstream comics, something the Comics Journal never has. The journal does a great job of recognizing cartoonists and fringe comics artists with lengthy interviews, but generally considers (or more accurately, considered) itself to be above the mainstream. Or, as wikipedia puts it: "Known for its lengthy interviews with comic creators, pointed editorials, and scathing reviews of the products of the "mainstream" comics industry, the magazine promotes the view that comics are a fine art meriting broader cultural respect, and thus should be evaluated with higher critical standards."

For extra credit, try this non-review of "Alpha: Fall of the Hulks", where the reviewer is more concerned with the position of one character's hands on the cover and MODOK's shape in general (not this artists specific rendering). The story and art otherwise don't actually get reviewed. In fact, the reviewer spend half the review talking about Red She-Hulk, who isn't in the comic anywhere. It's kind of funny.

Frankly, I had forgotten Cat Grant was like this. I knew she wasn't the crazed boob-job catty 'Supergirlz muste DIEZORZ!!1!' character she's become in the past, but really, I had no idea she was actually the character with Clark on the ski trip. In Byrne issue, she really is tramping it up, though.

Date: 2010-02-05 08:23 pm (UTC)
skalja: Ultimate Spider-Woman posing like a BAMF (Default)
From: [personal profile] skalja
Drag queens are transvestites, not transgendered/transsexual (I assume that's what you meant by TS/TG -- if I'm wrong, forget I said anything). Transvestites dress in the clothes of the opposite gender; transgendered folks are the opposite gender to their biological sex.

I'm sure one could also be a transgendered transvestite, but the one doesn't have anything to do with the other.

Date: 2010-02-06 06:18 am (UTC)
jlroberson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jlroberson
Yes, I realize that, but thank you. I differentiate PROFESSIONAL drag queens from ordinary transvestites, that's all I meant. I really don't want to get bogged down in that because I was really just referring to a specific character type of Morrison's that recalls the tropes of drag queen behavior. I hope that's clear this time because this is the last I'm saying about it.

Date: 2010-02-05 02:41 pm (UTC)
espanolbot: (Default)
From: [personal profile] espanolbot
"I also always hated how her son's death ended up being all about HER and getting to grips with HERself. I liked her kid better than her."

Ahh, the Ollie Queen approach to tragedy.

Date: 2010-02-05 12:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tahngarth.livejournal.com
I think what Johns latched on to was the portrayal of Cat in the 1990's "Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" TV series. It seems to fit that version of Cat to a T better than her comics counterpart.

Oh well, it's not like Geoff Johns changing characters to suit his whim is anything new.

Date: 2010-02-05 02:41 pm (UTC)
espanolbot: (Default)
From: [personal profile] espanolbot
Was it Cat or Drake who got blown up?

Date: 2010-02-05 05:00 pm (UTC)
halloweenjack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] halloweenjack
Even if she is "tramping it up" a little in Byrne's story, I still like this Cat a lot more than the one I've seen recently, who reminds me a lot of the version in Morrison and Quitely's JLA: Earth 2.

Date: 2010-02-05 08:27 pm (UTC)
skalja: Ultimate Spider-Woman posing like a BAMF (spider-man: gwen eyebrow)
From: [personal profile] skalja
Honestly, to me it looks like she's just dressing to be super-comfortable but still attractive -- nice lounge clothing, basically. I wouldn't wear that outfit, but that doesn't mean no one else can!

(Of course, the problem in comics is that a good half the time it seems like male artists think ALL women dress that way when they're being casual.)

Date: 2010-02-05 05:36 pm (UTC)
retro_nouveau: AARP Bruce (6)
From: [personal profile] retro_nouveau
Cool, this is the version of Cat Grant that goes into retro fanon. I think she was meant to be at least a little bit flighty from the beginning if she drives a convertible Jag with vanity plates. Still, you get the sense that she's attracted to Clark for who he is, so lots of points for that. Clark must have liked her a lot to wear that sweater. XD

Love Clark's underwear. I wonder who bought them for him?

Date: 2010-02-05 07:21 pm (UTC)
yaseen101: (Default)
From: [personal profile] yaseen101
Yeah, this is a Cat Grant I could bet behind. Metaphorically speaking of course.

Date: 2010-02-05 11:04 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] scottyquick
Thank you so much! I loved the early Cat Grant, I think she would have made just a great friend for Clark. Clois is my OTP, but they could be such good friends :)

Date: 2010-02-05 11:42 pm (UTC)
autolychus2: (Default)
From: [personal profile] autolychus2
This -- the "Man of Steel" - Byrne reboot of Superman -- is the only time I've ever liked the Red-and-Blue Boy Scout outside of the first two movies.

And I agree. I liked the Cat Grant in these comics much better than her recent portrayal in comics. Truth be told, I like her here better than I've ever liked Lois (though that might be Silver Age DC hangover).

Anyhoo, great post. Thanks.

Date: 2010-02-06 05:31 am (UTC)
jaybee3: Nguyen Lil Cass (Default)
From: [personal profile] jaybee3
Geoff Johns is known for saving a lot of characters from the trash heap but with Cat during his run he (and others but he's continued this POV in the Secret Origins mini) have just made her out to be a bad reporter with silicone breasts and a drinking problem who flirts -or more - with every guy and has a hard-on for Supergirl for no reason other than plot purposes.

Contrast that to the Cat that Wolfman originally devised who was IIRC supposedly created to specifically be an anti-Lois, the woman who wants and is interested in Clark Kent and has no time for Superman (unlike the Lois of this period of the re-boot). And then she risked her safety by getting (physically) involved with Morgan Edge to help Clark write an (award-winning) story that put Edge in jail - and when she went to work for Edge's father later at GBS he constantly sexually harassed to the point she was going to sue him (which makes the fact she so willingly goes on Edge's TV show to agree with him on anti-Kryptonian propaganda in the current storyline particularly galling) and then of course her son Adam was murdered in cold blood by the Toyman (who has now been ret-conned into just being a murderous robot invention of the original Toyman).

Cat has been through a lot of bad stuff over the years (and she still never got Clark) and look how they're writing her now - as a hack writer harpy. It just makes you wonder why?

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