Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Drag Knight Detective
Ah, the Seventies...what a fun time for our dark knight detective. Witness Batman #266, from 1974. This is another of my early issues, unearthed last night. A special favorite of mine, as it's an issue long story by Denny O'Neil, with art by Irv Novick and Dick Giordano. Catwoman is the villain of the feature and there's a derailed prison train, to boot.
And it features Batman in drag.
Yes, sure, I know, Bruce is a master of disguise. Often he's donned costumes to blend into the human landscape. But in this memorable instance, he goes undercover as Mrs. Bertha Carrington Bridgewater, owner of jewels, in hopes of flushing out the recently-escaped Catwoman.
Not only does he take the appearance of a middle-aged Texas matron, but a colorful one at that and you can tell from the dialogue that he's really acting this one out. Just look at that caftan!
Even the theatrically-trained Alfred looks a little askance as Bruce peels off the jewel-studded tiara and wig. Of course even the most experienced drag queens are impressed at how quickly Bruce transitions from "ole Bertie Suggins" to his more familiar night clothes.
Poor Selina Kyle, she doesn't get to do much in the story, except model that classic outfit of hers as she stands around, clawing the air with a cat-o-nine-tails. It's clear that she was actually thinking about going straight at this point, and her heart doesn't seem to be in it. But then, I wouldn't be the first to suggest that she owes that limited mobility to the high-heeled boots.
She does get a good claw into the hand of a Sonny Bono clone, while she is still in prisoner attire (before apparently unpacking the Costume, Cat Throne and ocelots back at her lair--I'm picturing her storage unit now), so her reputation's safe.