LADIES AND GENTLEMEN OF THE INTERNET, ARE YOU READY TO ROCK?
Well, you’ll have to look elsewhere, because today we’re going to discuss the baffling synergistic trainwreck known as Nightcat.
The 1991 multimedia misfire was Marvel’s miguided attempt to resurrect their original plan for the Disco Dazzler: a real-life pop princess crafted in-and-around a fictionalized superhero persona.
The collapse of the plan — despite the passing involvement of an ephemeral powerhouse of the recording industry — and the Dazzler’s laughable, if briefly profitable, debut as an instantly-dated X-franchise appendage did little to discourage the House of Ideas from giving it another go a decade and change later.
This time around, however, the publisher ensured that its trashheap Trilby would have a real-world presence and voice in the form of one Jacqueline Tavarez, which led to a sad and confusing scenario where it became difficult to determine who was promoting whom.
Was Nightcat supposed to be a comic book with a pop music tie-in? Or was it a legit pop concern using comics as publicity stunt? I doubt even the folks in charge of the fiasco knew the answer.
There are many pop performers — from Bowie to Alice Cooper to Kiss to Lady Gaga — who’ve used outlandish stage personas to profitable effect. If there’s mercenary mythmaking involved, it has been honed and cultivated with an eye for maximum effect. Whether you love the game or hate it, you have to admit that it takes a lot of work and core nugget of exceptional talent of the musical or marketing variety.
It’s not the type of thing that can be reliably hothoused, especially where an unknown quantity is involved, but that’s exactly what Marvel and company tried to pull off with Nightcat. Even more puzzling was the assumption that a funnybook could serve as a vector to pop stardom. The Kiss comic may have been a runaway success for the publisher, but that had more to do with the rabidity (and low sales resistance) of the fanbase than the quality of the material. The money had already been prepared for the taking.
It’s a stiff enough challenge to sell the public on a new superhero concept. The notion that one pull that herculean feat off and achieve crossover success in the face of dwindling interest in comics in general and and use that to propel a nobody to musical superstardom goes well past hubris and into the realm of delusional insanity.
It also didn’t help that the comic is a “so-bad-it’s-bad” stinker.
Young Jacqueline dreamed of being a pop star, but her plans were squelched after her hard-nosed cop father forbade her from singing. Jacqui’s mom had once been a singer, y’see. Folks said she would be the next Janis Joplin and they were right…as she, too, was found dead in a pool of her own bourbon-laced vomit.
After seeing all her less-talented peers land lucrative recording contracts, Jacqueline turned to the superhero comics for a solution to her dilemma.
You father won’t let you be a rock star? No problem! Just don an ensamble from K-Mart’s “Cher Essentials” collection, adopt a stupid stagename, and the A&R men of the world will beat a path to your door.
In Jacqui’s case, however, the recording execs in questions had also vertically integrated their portfolios by adding a lucrative side business in narcotics distribution. Their newest hit, concocted by the ravetastically named “Dr. Ecstacy,” was a designer drug which enabled users to channel the power of various animal species. Why ride a white horse when you can be a white horse, right?
Suspecting that something might not be on the level with a firm that throws wads of cash at an unproven talent with a mediocre gimmick, Jacqui went on a little snooping spree (in her totally inconspicous and practical stage costume) and found herself captured, bound, and shot up with a hot load of pure, uncut kitten juice. The untested formula endowed the singer with cat-like powers, which in funnybook terms means “claws and agility” rather than the more accurate “ability to sleep sixteen hours a day, puke up dead moles on the carpet, and get up in my face whenever I’m playing videogames.”
Then her dad gets killed as a result of her actions (which is why imitating funnybook tropes is a bad idea) and some ninjas show up and there’s rejected Roger Moore era Bond villain with a metal hand and why are you still reading this when I’m sure there’s paint drying somewhere that could use some watching?
Nightcat is a really, really terrible comic, okay? Let’s just leave it at that.
It also did little to buoy its meta-tragic star’s recording career, which was limited to a single album release crammed with such profoundly titled cuts as “If You Love Me,” “Your Love Is All I Need,” and “Hang On To Your Loving.”
Even within the historic context of funnybook forays into the realm of pop music, Nightcat stands paws and claws above the cringeworthy clowder…which is reason enough to scoop this feline failure into the litterbox of Nobody’s Favorites.