Graeme McMillan's blog@ post
got me thinking about how I would personally never have gotten interested in comics (that is, American superhero comics) without the Internet.
I was going to blog something long and involved about that, but then it struck me as very dry. Instead I got to thinking about the very few superhero comics that I'd read before the internet, which amounted to a handful of Fantastic Four comics picked up for a dollar at a flea market and a sublimely terrible Marvel comic called Nightcat
. (Kevin's got a much better synopsis and review
As a nine year old, I loved this comic, though for the life of me now, I don't know why. Except maybe because I liked singing (regardless of my actual level of talent :-P) and cats. I have no idea how I ended up with a copy at age nine, because one would imagine that sane parents would have balked at buying their child something that had a protagonist that could star in Peter Griffin's Sideboob Hour...
Seriously, how the hell is that a sane costume for anyone?
Apparently this came out in 1991, which sounds about right. I must have got it fairly close to when it first came out, since I had to be about eight at the time. I think I was still in Catholic School when I got it. Sadly, I never brought it to class even though I wanted to. It's probably for the best, but as an adult I regret that I will never see the look of abject horror on my teacher's face that that would have been likely to cause. Missed opportunities.
Now, my recollection of this is dim at best, and a lot of it is jogged specifically by the links provided. If there are inaccuracies, please correct me.
Basically the comic is gloriously awful in all the best ways. The main character, Jacqueline, wants to be a singer like mommy. Mommy however died because of her freewheeling lifestyle and drinking (I remember Mommy looking more like a librarian than anything else, which makes me really wish I had scans to show you. Oh well. Admittedly, looking like a librarian does not preclude a wild drinking lifestyle, but being nine at the time, I thought it was somewhat odd.) According to the link, she "literally" drank herself to death when the main character was ten. I do remember it allowing for a tragic hospital bedside scene and the poignant dialogue of "Why, mommy? Why?"
Of course this leads Jacqueline's hard nosed cop father to have an angsty-cop vendetta against the music business, thereby forbidding his daughter to sing. Ever.
He's blaming the wrong thing of course, since the music business hardly poured the drink down Mommy's throat (especially since, thinking back, it was LOSING the audition that led her to drink), but he's an angsty-cop sort and that's what they do. Besides, otherwise, we couldn't have a pointless high school age thing where Jaqueline sneaks out to join a band, is caught, forbidden from attending an audition after which her replacement gets famous. Which, admittedly, must be galling. Said replacement's name was "Melissa" which amused me for quite some time. Hey, at least my namesake wasn't a whiny twit.
As an adult, (apparently studying Criminology according to Kevin's review, which I totally didn't remember because it had THAT much significance to the plot), she sees that her rival is now famous, and decides to go in disguise and audition. Why she has to do this when she's clearly over the age of 18 is anyone's guess, but I guess it's really the same as Jem. You just kind of have to go with the idea that these adult women are apparently lack the balls, so to speak, to actually go out and get what they want without the use of pointless secrecy. I mean, who cares what your angsty-cop dad says? You're a fucking grown-up and unless you intend to perform masked for the rest of your life, he's probably going to figure it out eventually. Even at 9, I wondered about that. Well, okay, not so much that part, but when she miraculously ends up instantly famous and on the cover of magazines and shit, even 9 year old me was all "Cop-Daddy never looks at a newsstand?" (At nine, I was all about the newsstands. Fuck if I know why. :-))
Of course she's a fantastic singer who blows everyone away immediately, but it's comics so it's hard to bitch about that. She uses the stage name "Nightcat" which I'm hard pressed to believe would sell anything that isn't kept behind black dividers in one's local Suncoast video, but whatever. She becomes instantly famous in a way that had me confused about the record business for years. I was very disappointed to find out that you can't just sign a contract and suddenly get oodles of money instantly. Though not, I'd imagine, as disappointed as those American Idol winners.
Okay, apparently there's a big drug plotline which the heroine decides she must clean up herself despite having no training or powers. And rather than doing something sane like, I dunno, quietly gathering what evidence she can and notifying the police (or even filing a lawsuit), she decides to go brawling. That's what they teach you in Criminology school I guess. To be honest, I never even remembered this part. I do remember the main character ending up captured by the scary villainess Amanda Gideon (who, let's face it, has a freaking awesome name) who recognizes her as a popstar and decides to use her for an experiment regarding animal-DNA or some shit like that.
Because, you know, if *I* were a multimillionaire villainess masterminding a drug ring in the music business and found a famous star beating up my men, of course I wouldn't press charges for breaking and entering/assault and battery/criminal trespass or anything like that. That would make SENSE. Well, to be fair, were I Gideon, I'd also be using my evil underlings to spread rumors of mental instability and drug problems, that way if she did try to tell the cops/public, she'd have even less credibility. But I like propaganda.
Either way, I'm pretty sure tying her down and injecting her with animal serum isn't the way to go. Especially since it gives her superpowers. Somehow Dad gets in the mix, saves her, and dies from being shot like 80 billion times. Of course he clings to life long enough to tell her he's proud of her, which makes him a better man than me, because in a way, he was kind of right. He certainly wouldn't be, ya know, DEAD, if she stuck with Criminology.
To be fair though, I sympathize with the heroine for one thing. The cops don't want to arrest Amanda Gideon because there's no evidence tying her to the drug ring. Okay. But...I'm fairly certain there's still probably enough evidence to arrest her for...I dunno...assault? I mean...I'm fairly certain if I came into a police statement and said someone strapped me down and injected me with something, there'd probably be an arrest. Maybe not a conviction
, but I'm fairly certain there'd be something done. Not to mention the whole dead undercover cop riddled with 80-thousand bullets while his daughter saw the whole damn thing part.
God, those cops are incompetent. I'm fairly certain Amanda Gideon could walk through the streets wearing a sandwich board saying "Free DRUGS! ILLEGAL DRUGS! FOR SALE TO YOU!!!" and they'd be all "...I wonder who's behind this drug ring..."
Anyway, she does the smart thing, for a superhero, and buys nifty toys. And also finds some scow used to smuggle in the drugs. Which of course she doesn't actually give to the police. To be fair, I'm kind of sympathetic to that just now because Cop-Daddy was apparently the only half-decent cop in the whole damn precinct.
There's a trap of course, which involves singing at some casino or something owned by Gideon. And honestly, that's kind of stupid right there. "Gee, the woman who injected me with crap, killed my dad, and who I've been thwarting for a while now wants me to sing at a function! Yay!" To be fair, for all I know, she did know it was a trap. I honestly can't remember. I do remember when her back up dancers turned out to be ninjas. Because well, that was fucking funny.
...though I think Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers did that plot better.
Anyway, the badguy is thwarted. And goes splat off a building. (See, this is what you hire goons for, lady.) While the main character devotes a song to her dead parents.
Which is kind of ironic really. "Here mom and dad. I know the music business contributed to your deaths, so let me sing to you!!!"
But the cover had a woman on a rooftop surrounded by cats, so I can't judge too much. I'd have bought it just for that. And in fact, that's probably what I did.
In the end, it's probably not a wonder that it took me another twelve years or so before I ever gave superhero comics a real chance. On the plus side, I did learn some tricks on how NOT to be an effective supervillain. And also the power of the sideboob.
I've never been so traumatized as when I found out there was a real Jacqueline Tavarez/Nightcat. At least no one will remember her name in relation to this dreck, one hopes. :-)