New 52 – Catwoman #9 review

How big is Gotham, exactly?

On the Night of the Owls, Nightwing is at City Hall where it is snowing at around 8PM. Catwoman, on the other hand, is at Penguin’s home where at 2AM it is “an unseasonably warm evening” and folks are out in short sleeves. The mistake was pretty obvious to me since I’ve been charting the events of this night in chronological order. Trying to get everything to sync up just right has shown me how none of these cross-over stories feel like they cross-over at all. None of them feel like they are taking place in the same city. Nightwing’s part of town is snowing, Catwoman’s is warm, Batgirl’s story showed countless balloon bombs ready to strike the city but they never affected the other books, all of Chinatown was frozen in Red Hood’s tale, and the park, church, and train station in Birds of Prey were all totally deserted. None of the terror bleeds into the other titles and I never get the sense that Gotham is about to fall because none of these places feel like the same city. This problem is at its worst in “Catwoman” #9.

My issue with this story is that it begins at 2:03 in the morning, long after the worst of the Night of the Owls has come to pass yet Catwoman, Spark, Penguin, and the whole section of town feels totally un-phased. The balloon bombings, the ice-age, the owl symbol in the sky, none of that seems to have blipped on anyone’s radar. It’s just a typical night in Gotham for all of these characters until a single Talon shows up at 2 in the morning. And what exactly took Ephraim so damn long to get here? Every other Talon was awake at 5 in the afternoon and suited up and ready to go by 8PM yet this guy is only getting to work at 2AM?! No wonder he was forced into an early retirement!

But judging the book on its own merits, it’s an alright one-and-done little episode. It even shows us a rare glimpse at Catwoman’s sense of honor bubbling up. And the way that Judd Winick was able to take the plot of the sword heist from last month’s issue and seamlessly weave that into this crossover is very admirable. If you’re just a Catwoman fan with no interest in the goings on of the Court of Owls, then you’ll be pleased to see that the cross-over event didn’t drag down your favorite series but was integrated quite nicely. My favorite part of the whole issue though, besides the art, is Penguin. Penguin is spot on and far better handled here than he was in “Detective Comics” earlier this year (notice the Iceberg Casino is on the cover of this issue). But as I said, the book’s real strength is its artwork. Guillem March has been away for a while and it’s wonderful to have him back. Highlights are the Talon’s design, the way he lays out action scenes, and the opening pages that take place in the 1600s look amazing and that has a lot to do with the coloring that Tomeu Morey brough to this book.

The only shot that didn’t look good was the final page in which Catwoman lights the batsignal. The angle in which the signal is pointed shouldn’t strike the building in the background and Catwoman’s body looks way too long. I’m sure it was meant to come across as her legs being closer to the viewer as if she was leaping off the roof and out of the page, but it doesn’t look quite right. Instead it looks like she has stubby arms and massive, ultra long legs.

Overall, “Catwoman” #9 is a weak entry to the Night of the Owls cross-over event, but an otherwise okay comic. It even has a heartfelt ending that seemed like it should have been better than it was but since the story had to be rushed it doesn’t quite have the impact that it should have. Issue #9 is also a very fast read that you’ll get through in no-time at all, but it’s a very well drawn comic that you’ll find yourself flipping back through again when you are done just so you can take in all the little details of  late 17th century Gotham. It’s definitely not a must-buy for Catwoman fans or Night of the Owls fans, but it was fairly entertaining.

SCORE: 6.5/10