By T. Mack
It’s National Comic Book Day! Unlike Free Comic Book Day (the first Saturday in May), National Comic Book Day doesn’t mean you get anything free. It’s just another of those obscure holidays that most calendars don’t bother printing and most people don’t notice. Kind of like Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day (first Saturday of February), Mad Hatter Day (October 6) or Embrace Your Geekness Day (July 13). I think we’ll be putting that last one on our office calendar here.
In honor of today’s obscure holiday, I’d like to take a few minutes to remember my favorite comic book series. Full disclosure: my choice isn’t particularly sophisticated, traditional or classic. I didn’t grow up on comic books, but came to them as a married adult in my late 20’s/early 30’s. And I believe my choice reflects that.
Gotham City Sirens was a series that starred Batman vixens, Catwoman (Selina Kyle), Harley Quinn (Dr. Harleen Quinzel) and Poison Ivy (Dr. Pamela Isley). The three women, who have commonly crossed paths in the Batman universe, sometimes as allies, often as adversaries, came together in this series as friends and roommates. Catwoman, who often walks the line between heroine and villain, served as the backbone and moral compass for the group. Harley spent her time attempting to convince herself and her friends that she had fully freed herself from the influence of her beloved “Mr. J.” And Ivy just tried to care for her plants, punish the non-environmental wicked and cause a bit of mayhem. The series wasn’t too serious or dark, as most in the Batman franchise tend to be. It was a bit light and was quite fun to me because it starred three grown women with very different personalities traversing their friendship and hardships together. Sometimes they completely depended on each other and sometimes they attempted to kill each other. But in the world of adult women, that’s kind of what being best friends is all about, even if it’s normally on a less drastic scale.
I adore Catwoman because she walks a fine line and doesn’t apologize for jumping over it and back again when it’s convenient. She is many times a hero but often a villain. There are even times where she is both at the same time. I adore how that dynamic reflects the human condition. Even the best of us have some darkness hiding away. And there are times when it just gets out. Most of us try to stamp it down and keep it totally contained. But Catwoman embraces both sides of herself. And for that, I can’t get enough of her (except when she’s played by Halle Berry in one of the crappiest movies in recent cinema history).
I dig Harley Quinn because she is such a fascinating psychological headcase. She was a psychiatrist, but lost her ever-loving mind over a man and became not only a classic “battered woman syndrome” sufferer, but a criminally insane villain. She went from being a doctor who helped people to being a baseball bat-wielding, idiot maniac who constantly tries to kill people. I mean, how is that not completely intriguing?
Poison Ivy is not one of my very favorite characters, but I do appreciate her conviction. Basically, she loves plants and the planet. You mess with her plants or you disrespect the planet, she takes you out. It’s not totally sane and obviously, her means of environmental conservation are at best extreme, at worst psychotic. But she believes in her cause and I respect that.
These three personalities came together in a really fun way in the Gotham City Sirens series. I looked forward to seeing how they would team up and in-fight each month. It was also fun to see each character deal with her day-to-day life as well as the adventures we typically get to see. The series ended in August 2011 with the kickoff of DC’s The New 52. Each of the women moved on to be part of new titles within the softly rebooted universe. Catwoman was given her own title, Harley became part of Suicide Squad and Ivy went on to be featured in Birds of Prey. I still fondly remember this series and still have a special love for the characters who were part of it.
What has been your favorite comic book series? How would you celebrate National Comic Book Day if you cared enough about it to celebrate? What comic book character would you dress up as if you were going to a Comic Book Day party? Let me know in the comments.