If the combined comic book universes had their equivalent of The Onion, this would be it. The BDP can be a bit hit and miss in its humor, but when it's on, it's on. The perfect tonic for those who take their funnybooks too seriously.
Anti-villain promises “If you survive you will be skinny”
MEDIKWE GAME PRESERVE – Catman has thrown his hat into the weight loss arena in an effort to combat childhood obesity. Failing that, America is sure to be entertained.
Tom Blake, better known as Catman, promises kids if they survive they will be skinny. “Nonprofits like Rachel Ray’s Yum-O! are noble attempts but they just aren’t practical. They don’t address the life choices that contribute to the issue. My cats and I attack this lifestyle head on and if the kid doesn’t want to be a Yum-O snack, he’ll change his ways.” Blake contends that "being hunted or starving because you can't" [hunt] will quickly change your views on food and its consumption. His reality show, Catman's Pride... or Die, runs six consecutive Tuesdays on ABC, beginning at 9 p.m. June 26.
Catman is his own best proof the program works. “Hey, I know what inadequacy and social exile feels like. I was once overweight, pathetic and miserable,” he relayed, punching the air with a finger for emphasis. “Can you image going from a Batman villain to Green Arrow’s whipping boy? C’mon, man! A Batman beat down is something serious. The Arrow--hey, I'm sure he does his best but...when a man's dignity stops speaking to him, it's time to make a change. Moving to Medikwe and living with the cats transformed me. These days you can bounce a quarter off my ass.” (In the interest of journalism this reporter tried it and can verify it. My eye is healing nicely.)
With his new anti-villain status Blake now feels extra pressure to give back. “Being a beloved villain/anti-hero comes with a different set of obligations. If I want to keep my street cred, I have to be seen walking that fine line. Is he doing good? Is he setting us up? Folks have got to be kept guessing.”
Some scoff at the show's premise "It's total 'George of the Jungle' BS," said reality show hitmaker Mark Burnett. "Having fat kids attacked by lions...? I... um... damn...that's the sh!t"
Blake says that even if Americans don't form an empathic bond with his show's lifestyle competitors, there's enough teenage angst to keep you pointing and giggling. "Plus some of the dismissals [slayings] are truly spectacular. You haven't seen good TV until you've watched a 300lb lioness run down a chunky kid from Detroit."
In the show, Blake and his personal trainer, Gail Simone, help twenty obese middle school students from the U.S. become healthy and fit. Blake calls his Pride "camp counselors" and identifies Tabby, a pregnant lioness, as an inspired motivator.
Twelve year-old Laquan Simmons lost 100 pounds on Blake’s Pride or Die plan. Although 25% of her weight-loss is due to the hunk of flesh missing from her right flank, she is still more than happy with the results. “When you feel and look this good,” said the now-agile girl showing of her six-pack abs, “who needs the extra buttock? I’m glad Tabby ripped it off. I only wish she'd stop following me around. It’s makin’ me nervous.”
Blake had a 10 percent success rate—eight if you account for Laquan's missing parts—with his first batch of campers but says that number should really be 100. “Both of the kids who survived are in fantastic shape. Plus they can climb a tree in .02 seconds. It’s 'survival of the fitness' out here, babe,” he said, voicing the show tagline with a thumbs-up and a killer smile.
art by Dale Eaglesham and Wade von Grawbadger for DC Comics