So I must confess that, with the exception of an occasional Betty and Veronica, I haven’t read a comic book since college. And please don’t ask me how long that’s been; let’s just say I was reading the original serialized version of The Watchmen at the time and leave it at that, shall we? Well, The Secret Lives of Julie Newmar made me wonder why I had ever stopped reading them.
This particular series revolves around the adventures of Julie Newmar as Catwoman à la the Batman television series from 1966-1968. Why bring back Newmar’s Catwoman? Well, why not? She may have taken a lot of rap from feminists about her hyper sexualized image, but I think she probably makes a better female comic book role model with her “kick ass and take names” manner than two teenage girls constantly chasing Archie Andrews. One of the things I realized I’ve missed about comic books is the artwork, and The Secret Lives of Julie Newmar does not disappoint in this respect. The central part of the comic is drawn with a classic, nostalgic flair that perfectly correlates with the retro nature of the main character. My favorite piece, though, is a stunning, impressionist style cover art portrait of Julie with her cats by Apriyadi Kusbiantoro.
The premise of the story is simple and fairly unoriginal. Essentially, Julie Newmar, aka Catwoman, had been involved in time travel experimentation in 1967 and is called back in time out of retirement to track down some rogue scientists from the project. Cue the standard time travel science fiction story line elements: don’t change history, don’t get killed in another time, love interest from the past, dinosaur chase scene, etc. At times, the story line seems a bit fragmented but, hey, this is time travel, right? What makes the story a lot of fun is a campy, sarcastic sense of humor in the dialogue, such as the explanation for bringing Catwoman into the project: “The scientists demanded a certain amount of eye candy in their lives.”
One weakness of the story line is that some of the time references either require the reader to either be as old as I am or a student of pop culture history; some of the younger readers may not appreciate the London punk rock scene of the 70s. In general, though, the writing was quite good and managed to hold quite a few thoughts and ideas for what is typically a somewhat “fluffy” literary genre in terms of content. I especially enjoyed the ambiguous ending and would definitely look forward to future installments.