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[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 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.


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