RETRO REVIEW: Alley Cat #1 (July 1999)

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Or – “From The Company That Brought You ‘NASH!’ “

A recent Major Spoilers Podcast featured an extended discussion of the various ages of comics, but we did overlook one sub-section of the modern age:  The Bad Girl Era.  Previews used to be a virtual minefield of fishnets, claws, cleavage and what seemed to be rejected WWE Diva names.  Poizon, Razor, Lady Death, Lady Pendragon, Hellina, and even revitalized stalwarts like Vampirella tottered around on sky-high heels with their business hanging out, and we even got to see the horror of “nude covers.”  (Here’s a protip:  If a nude cover doesn’t say either Altuna or Manara, I don’t need to see it.)  Near the end of this wave of nudilation came Alley Cat, a vanity project for former Playboy Playmate Alley Baggett, and her somewhat prosaically named alter-ego.  Say what you will about the book, but she’s wearing nearly four times as much fabric as many of her contemporaries…

ALLEY CAT #1
Script: Alley Baggett (plot); Greg Aronowitz (plot); Bob Napton (plot and script); Matt Hawkins (plot and script)
Pencils: Bosco
Inks: Tie
Colors: Bret Evans
Letters: Albert Dechesne
Editor: Matt Hawkins
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $2.50 (Current Near-Mint Price: Check Your Local Quarter Bin)

Previously, on Alley Cat: Image Comics began when several of the most popular artists at Marvel Comics decided to jump ship and make their own concepts fly, creating an autonomous collective of creators who did what they wanted without all that pesky editorial interference or quality control.  Many fine series have made it to comic book racks wearing the Image logo, and of all the comics Image has ever published, this is one.

We begin in New Orleans, as the annual bacchanalia is attended by two young women seeking out sexy underthings…

Bride-To-Be Alley and her young friend Stacy have visited all the lingerie shops in the city, but still haven’t found the appropriate unmentionables for Alley’s big day.  Against her better judgment, Alley is led to the French Quarter (which she describes as full of voodoo and spookiness) and a building that Stacy heard sells lingerie:  La Chat Noire.  It’s French, you see…

What an odd space for a clothing store…  Alley is still spooked as they enter, but is calmed a bit by the lush interior of the building, including what seems to be a Persian rug with the outline of a bra and panties on it.  Classy.  Having calmed down enough to realize that there’s nothing to be scared of, the ladies do what every horror movie vixen does when se relaxes:  Get naked.

The art team is identified solely as “Bosco and Tie,” and I can’t seem to find any information on whether they’ve done any other work, but they’re certainly an odd choice for a book like this.  Real life Alley is 5’2″ and busty, whereas she is always drawn as elongated, angular and practically asexual.  A mysterious old woman appears, and directs Alley to open a particular box, in which she finds a very particular garment…

Now, I’m not an expert on honeymoon-wear, but I can’t say as I would find this disco bondage suit (with, strangely enough, matching black lipstick) to be perfect, especially given that the oddly demure black lace thing was two trashy for her.  Either way, before she can take off the obviously ridiculously complicated ensemble, she is overcome with hallucinations of the Marquis De Sade, and a mysterious shadow creature rips best friend Stacy limb from limb…

All the photographs (and indeed, the painted alternate cover) show Alley’s outfit as skin-tight, but it’s strangely ill-fitting throughout the issue.  Alley flees into the street, and is promptly hit by a car, presaging Kick-Ass’ origin by nearly a decade.  Alley is possessed by some decidedly unsexy sexual hallucinations, and awakens with a start…

When she gets home, Alley continues to be perplexed by auditory and visual hallucinations, and finds that they only stop when she puts on the leather outfit again.  Her respite from madness is short, as the Marquis De Sade reappears and somehow attacks her…

Mystical fighty-fighty ensues, and Alley manages to fight off the psychic beasties, then is suddenly awakened by her fiance, only to see the strange shadow creature hovering above his head!  Dun DUN DAAAH!!!! It’s a particularly odd place to break the story flow, as if they suddenly ran out of space and needed to stick in a cliffhanger.  The issue ends with a text piece explaining who the Marquis De Sade was (albeit with a lot of embellishment and exaggeration for mystical effect.)  All in all, it’s 30 pages, with about 8 pages worth of story intact.  FOUR ENTIRE PAGES are dedicated to walking down the street to the lingerie shop, while the mystical visions feel cramped and compacted.  Overall, it’s a weird book, with a bland main character.  There’s not nearly enough peek-a-boo to successfully make it a big-fun-sexy-time cheesecake romp, but the fan-service changing scene and the general lack of depth in the plotting doesn’t give it the Witchblade bump to overcome it’s genre.  Alley Cat #1 isn’t a complete mess, but it is disappointing enough to earn 1.5 out of 5 stars overall.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Why would you give the art chores on a book about a real-life super-sexy curvy woman to an artist who can’t reproduce her?