Catwoman Vol. 1: The Game review

Catwoman’s first New 52 adventure went straight to trade paperback, skipping the sexier-to-display-on-your-shelf hardback edition.  It’s available at a great price, it’s a quick read, and I enjoyed it but it’s definitely not for everyone. Here’s the criteria: if you’re uninitiated in Catwoman comics or you’re just looking for a roller coaster ride rather than a deep character study then you’ll read this with a big smile on your face. But if you’re a fan of the more mature Selina Kyle like in the Brubaker stuff a few years back then this book might rub you the wrong way. See, when DC rebooted everything with the New 52 Selina Kyle was one of those characters that got hit pretty hard. She’s much younger now and it feels like she hasn’t been doing this whole cat burglar thing for very long. This isn’t a story about an anti-hero/vigilante, it’s a story about an adrenaline junkie who loves to steal things and thinks only about herself. Over the course of the book you see her come to realize how her actions are affecting others and she tries to change her ways but ultimately that kind of personality will regress and start making the same mistakes again. If you can’t get on board with a rookie Catwoman who needs to learn some self control, then skip it. If you want to relax, have some fun and look at some lovely (but overly sexualized in parts) artwork then this is totally worth your money.

Content

Most comics work better as collected graphic novels like this, heck that’s why many fans prefer to read them in this format. “Catwoman” works beautifully as a monthly title because it always seems to end with a fun little cliffhanger that escalates the trouble Catwoman has found herself in and we as readers get to contemplate over the next 30 days or so how exactly she’ll claw her way out of this situation. It’s kind of like Vic Mackey on “The Shield” (and if you haven’t watched the TV show “The Shield” you NEED to). Many of the episodes ended with some impossible situation and a lot of the fun came from fan discussion as to how he could possible escape. So, like when you watch a serialized television series on DVD one episode immediately after another, “Catwoman” in TPB doesn’t let you savor the tension. Instead, it makes for a lightning quick read which is great if you’re just looking for some escapist fun.

…And Most of the Costumes Stay On…

This issue ignited a lot of overblown controversy in my opinion. Catwoman’s a sexual character, the book is rated Teen +, and her character was de-aged for the reboot to bring readers a more naive Selina Kyle who’s just learning the ropes and making a lot of mistakes in the process. Besides the awkward poses from Catwoman to show off as much boob and butt as possible (a consistent problem in the series), I enjoyed it and thought it did a great job of setting the tone for this series. 8/10

 I Could Say That I’ll Sleep Better Tomorrow But That’s a Lie

This is my favorite chapter of the whole book, which might seem odd since I gave it an  8/10 and the following issue a 9/10 when they were originally published but those numbers are arbitrary and you should be more focuses on the things I actually have to say rather than a made-up score I toss out on a gut feeling when I’m through typing. This chapter is beautifully drawn, vibrantly colored, and it showcases all of the things that this series is capable of when performing at its best.

No One Can Find Any Piece of Me Here

One of the things I love about this series is how quickly it moves. Its pacing works wonderfully for a monthly title and best of all, if a villain or plot arises that isn’t particularly interesting, I won’t have to suffer through it for months and months. This issue does a great job of wrapping things up from the previous two issues and then cranking things up even more for what’s to come. There’s always something happening in this series and it makes for a wicked fast read. 9/10

You…Still in the Game?

(Man, these issues deserved better titles) This issue started out okay but then it introduced a lame villain with a gadget ripped straight from the video game “Bulletstorm” and then Guillem March devoted an entire page to Catwoman’s groin. However, this chapter isn’t as offensive as when collected in a TPB, but as a monthly comic I gave it a 4.5/10 because it simply wasn’t worth my $2.99. A big problem with this issue is that it adds a super-powered “meta-human” character to the mix. It just doesn’t work that well with the world of Catwoman that’s been established so far. Up until this point it’s been about good thieves, bad cops, and even worse gangsters but now Judd Winick is throwing super-powered villains into the mix and it turns the series into your average superhero vs super villain comic which is definitely not what “Catwoman” should be.

This has Got to be Dirty

This issue was a step back in the right direction but oddly enough the art took a hit as the team experimented with making Catwoman’s suit being a bit reflective. It didn’t work very well. The catsuit became ugly and very distracting. Then toward the end there was a 2-page spread that didn’t look quite right at all. Still, the story takes an interesting turn and becomes interesting again. The lowest point of this TPB has passed. 7.5/10

Welcome to the Hard Way

“Welcome to the Hard Way” was a good place to stop. It’s not exactly an uplifting conclusion, but enough of the obstacles from these 6 issues are overcome that you should walk away fulfilled and excited to come back for Volume #2. Issue #6 really is the ideal breaking point because the plot started in issue #7 still hasn’t even wrapped yet so anything more included here would’ve made for a very unsatisfying read. I gave this issue an  8/10 when it was first published and it works well for bringing this volume to a close.

Supplemental Material

7 pages of sketches and early cover designs without any commentary by artist Guillem March. None of these drawings are that different from the content that was actually published so it’s pretty forgettable. “Catwoman” easily has the weakest bonus material I’ve seen from any of the New 52 graphic novels so far.

Value

Six $2.99 books is $17.94 before taxes and this trade paperback collecting it all (plus a bit of bonus material) is selling for $14.99 if you buy it at full price. And unlike other small trade paperbacks like “Batwing Vol. 1: The Lost Kingdom” (also written by Judd Winick) many of the story’s elements are actually wrapped up so you finish reading satisfied knowing that your money was well spent and your time wasn’t wasted. Oh, and Amazon has it for $10.19 so I’d say the value on this thing is pretty great. It’s just a shame it wasn’t released as a sexier hardback.

Overall

The supplemental material is pathetic, but the six issues contained here deliver gorgeous artwork and fast-paced action that makes for a fun, quick read that’s perfect for those who want to sit down with a comic and unwind for a bit. And since it’s being sold at such an affordable price I recommend that you give it a shot, I mean $10.19 is pretty cheap by today’s standards.

SCORE: 7/10

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