Smells Like Tiger Spirit

A newfangled terrorist group has come to Gotham City to buy enough arms, ammunition, and ground-to-air Stinger missiles to outfit a small army. Naturally, Batman is on the case. Nobody is going to swap hardware like that on his watch.

But why is Catwoman involved? There are no sparkly bracelets to burglarize, no antique tiaras to purloin, no one-of-a-kind feline statues to snitch. Her involvement in this caper seems a bit tangential.

As it turns out, one of the munitions brokers has an unhealthy obsession with cats. His swanky condo is filled with all sorts of tiger memorabilia; much of it culled from illegal and endangered shopping lists. He goes by the name of Tiger, and it’s his life’s ambition to embody the Tiger Spirit. “He actually thinks he’s a cat,” says a character who stumbles upon his stash for the first time.

Naturally, Catwoman doesn’t like this one bit. She is horrified by this guy’s perverse collection of furniture, jewelry, and iconography made from the bones and pelts of tigers. She cannot tolerate such behavior, and vows to put an end to Tiger’s nine lives. “You’ll meet the spirit of every tiger, every cat, who died to satisfy your greed and lust,” she says.

Essentially we have two disparate novels here—a Batman novel and a Catwoman novel. One tracks an ethnic war brewing between Russia and Romania, and the other tracks an international poaching network. But don’t worry, both stories eventually converge at the end, and the reader is finally rewarded with a Batman/Catwoman dust up.

“Rewarded” isn’t exactly the right word, however. Catwoman follows her prey to Batman’s stakeout. A scuffle ensues between the weapons dealers and the Gotham police. Batman tosses Catwoman into the Gotham River. And that’s basically it.

Talk about unsatisfying. Catwoman doesn’t catch the tigerman, and Batman doesn’t nab “The Connection” (the shadowy powerbroker who arranged the arms swap in the first place). In the end, Catwoman and Batman only have a picosecond of screen time together.

On the second-to-last page of the novel, the two adversaries engage in a brief conversation. “You’re all by yourself,” says Batman. “It doesn’t have to be this way.” Catwoman waves off his halfhearted offer of friendship with a swipe of her paw. “It’s all or nothing with cats,” she replies. Ain’t that the truth. Rather than ending the novel here, the authors should have started the novel here. Better luck next time.

[Catwoman / By Lynn Abbey and Robert Asprin / First Printing: September 1992 / ISBN: 9780446360432]

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