Next week’s Batman/Catwoman #3 is sure to be full of surprises for fans of Gotham City’s favorite on-again/off-again superhero/antihero couple. No, I’m not talking about the reintroduction of Helena Wayne (Helena Kyle?), the Huntress (Batwoman?) of an alternate future who’s the daughter of Batman/Bruce Wayne and Catwoman/Selina Kyle (Helena Bertinelli, the mainline DCU Huntress most folks are familiar with from Cathy Yan‘s Birds of Prey film, has no blood relation to Bruce or Selina).

No, I’m talking about the bold fashion statement of 2021: Helena Wayne appearing to parade around the Gotham City streets sans pants.

Huntress sans Pants

In fairness to the creative team of writer Tom King, artist Clay Mann, colorist Tomeu Morey, and letterer Clayton Cowles, while there are no pants in sight, they almost certainly never intended for Huntress’s new costume to be fully bottomless. Mann’s initial tweet of the page included the caption, “A little bit of Mom&Dad,” indicating the suit is meant to be a combination of Batman and Catwoman’s costumes; Batman’s is clearly on top while Catwoman’s is on the bottom. While the final product certainly looks as if Helena’s lady bits are covered by nothing more than a thin layer of body paint, I’m sure Mann had spandex or leggings in mind. Revealing outfits that leave little to the imagination certainly are nothing new for superhero comics.

In this case, however, Huntress’s costume is so ridiculously skintight–to the point that we can make out the contours of her belly button–that it’s hard to blame people for experiencing the immediate reaction of “holy crap, a naked lady in a DC comic.”

The image was spreading around social media as Zoe Tunnell, a fellow critic for The Beat among other outlets, pointed out its absurdity on Twitter.

I’d be remiss not to mention the happy accident of autocorrect changing “coochie” to “cookie…”

…which led to some commentary from people like The Beat’s own Cori McCreery.

Anyway, Zoe was hardly the only one on Comics Twitter raising eyebrows at Clay Mann and Tomeu Morey’s costume design.

In what we could assume to be a subtweet against those criticizing the page, Clay Mann himself had this to say.

Setting aside Mann’s rehashing of a tired old cliché about critics, this is not the first time he’s faced scrutiny about the way he draws women. Take 2019’s Heroes in Crisis #4, with a page involving Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) that some readers thought was drawn in an inappropriately titillating manner for a scene about the physical and emotional scars the character has suffered.

Shortly after that incident, Mann was under fire once again for his initial, leaked Heroes in Crisis #7 cover depicting a dying/dead Poison Ivy in what some considered to be an oddly sexualized pose.

Clay Mann’s original leaked Heroes in Crisis #7 cover

The leaked cover was pulled at writer Tom King’s request in favor of a recolored, ever-so-slightly tamer version. Eventually, it appeared to have been replaced altogether in favor of a new cover by Mitch Gerads, a fellow frequent-collaborator of King’s who also contributed interior pages to Heroes in Crisis.

Mitch Gerads’ Heroes in Crisis #7 cover

I don’t want to assume Mann’s intent. As a cis guy I’m not the best authority on alleged misogyny in art, and regardless of what one thinks of the execution, Clay Mann is the only person who knows what was going through Clay Mann’s head when he designed a costume for Huntress that at first glance definitely looks like her nether regions right there in the open to strike fear in the hearts of Gotham’s many evildoers.

Look, I’m a straight dude. I like looking at sexy ladies as much as the next person who’s attracted to women. Speaking for myself here, I may roll my eyes at the laughably implausible and impractical costume designs of some superhero art, but I’m not here to kink-shame people who are into that kind of thing. The issue here isn’t that Clay Mann’s art is “too sexy.” Whatever floats your boat man.

And hey, I’m not even saying all superheroes need to wear pants! Catwoman’s costume tends to be pretty tight too, and many superheroes, from Spider-Man to The Flash, basically wear spandex onesies. Even Wonder Woman, DC’s premier pretty punching lady, was best known for a costume that resembled a one piece swimsuit with a vague American flag theme before she adopted the miniskirt look we see these days in comics and Gal Gadot movies. The brief period before the New 52 in which she did wear pants resulted in outcry.

All I’m saying is, whatever Mann and company had in mind for reintroducing Helena Wayne (originally appearing as an Earth-Two character in 1977’s DC Super Stars #17 courtesy of Paul Levitz, Joe Staton, Joe Orlando, and Bob Layton), the choice to make her look naked from the belly down is certainly an odd choice. And if we’re being honest with ourselves, it’s pretty hilarious.


  1. I don’t understand the problem here. I thought that after covid, the latest trend was that pants are optional when working? Isn’t this just DC keeping up with the times? :=P

    But I’ll admit that I’m kind of scratching my head that The Beat felt it necessary to create tags for “pantsless” and “coochie” just for this story…

  2. I’d love to read a storyline where Huntress shows up with her new suit to become the new Batma…er, Batress and then everyone in-universe thinks it’s mildly cringy because of Helena’s lack of good taste when it comes to costumes.

    and then Power Girl is like: rock on girl!

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