I might have rewritten this review a dozen times. Each time I start, I'm a little bit at a loss about what to say about the space that these comics (because there are two in one book) exists in. We are deep in the American election cycle and while it might seem we are inundated with political ads, Orwellian double-speak, and talking head punditry; DC comics cannot escape the allure of putting forth a couple more agendas for the comic reader to think upon... Something that has become divisive and doesn't look like any change is going take take place. Something that we as a society have dealt with for decades. The two biggest topic's with "control" in their moniker. Gun control and birth control.
You might be surprised that this is the central questions raised if you only read the "Catwoman" portion of the comic. The reality is that Catwoman is the vehicle used to introduce us to Beth, who is the protagonist of the second comic. My guess is that DC wanted this second comic published and just needed a means to do so, hence, Catwoman.
But, enough about my theorizing, I will briefly lay out what happens in each book before I get into breakdown.
The first comic deals with a mayoral race in Gotham between Chester Cobblepot, reformed criminal master-mind, and life long public servant Constance Hill. The former who wants to build walls and the later who wants to build bridges. The two campaigns are obvious allusions to the election going on currently in America.
Throughout the comic we have flashbacks to Selina Kyle's childhood at Miss Kitty's home for orphaned girls. The focus is on a relationship she had with one particular girl who constantly bullied her. A girl who ends up being adopted later when another girl goes missing. With some help from Batman, Catwoman uncovers the dark past about Constance Hill. She was her former tormentor, and she was a murderer who has covered up her past. Along with Penguin's shady real estate dealings, both candidates are arrested during a televised debate: a debate which has an effect on a little girl named Beth.
This is where the real message begins. Flash forward 30 some years and we see America much like it is now... just with even more guns. In fact, it's "open carry" Thursday at the "Builda Burger." Needless to say a bloodbath ensues, mainly perpetuated by people who don't know how to use their firearms or hat-guns. Yup, hat-guns, just let Ted Nugent explain it to you...
In Washington DC, there is a Senate Conference on Woman's Healthcare, which of course is only populated by men. Men wearing their hat-guns telling everybody about the newest latest threat to our nation, "Mentopause" the birth control candy. This is where we see Beth enter the stage as Madam President. She wants to talk to some prominent Senators about getting a handle on all the gun deaths in the nation, but she strikes out for the obvious reasons.
A few accidental discharges later, Beth has to come to terms with the fact that she might not get her way on this issue. So she focuses her efforts on protecting women's free and unobstructed access to birth control. Later, she talks before Congress as they vote on banning Mentopause.
Stonewalled yet again, Beth reaches into her bag of tricks to try to outwit Congress whose belief in the second amendment is strong. So strong infact, that it should be interpreted literally, as it is written. President Beth says fine, we will not ban the sale of any firearms, but she is putting an executive moratorium on the sale of ammunition. This outrages her opponents, and the Supreme Court takes up, and shoots down her moratorium in one day. Not to be outfoxed Beth has one last trick up her sleeve so girls can get affordable birth-control.
Phew... That's allot of comic for issue. I feel exhilarated and exhausted at the same time. Maybe that's how I should be feeling about this comic. It's hyperbolic yet poignant. It's ludicrous but doesn't seem to stretch the imagination based on the current level of political discourse in this country. It drives home an uncomfortable point, one that many will reject out of hand simply due to political alignment. It's wonderful for it's brashness and it terrifies me with a future reality that I don't want to admit is a possibility.
That is what makes the second comic written by Mark Russel so fantastic. From the title Trigger Warning to the access of lobbyists in our politics. He makes the reader smile and cringe at the same time. Caldwell's pencils and Lawson's inks bring to life this extreme vision of the future, helping immensely by making it light and colorful.
While the Catwoman comic was fine, it was merely a means to get to Trigger Warning. Both comics benefited by being associated with each other. You should buy this comic, even if you don't agree with the agenda, because having more satirical political comics is never a bad thing.
Rating: 10/10 Blanks for you Hat-Guns