It’s a step down in quality from Volume 1 to Volume 2 for Catwoman, but if you’ve seen the recent issues by Ann Nocenti then Judd Winick’s final arc will read like the works of Bill Shakespeare.
Volume 2 collects issues #7-12, wrapping up the last of Judd Winick and Guillem March’s year-long run on the series. Adriana Melo drew most of the issues here with March only illustarting two of the comics in the collection. It’s been almost 7 months since this arc ended and I must say that I hardly remember it. When I opened this book up again I had this moment of “Oh yeah, it’s the story where Catwoman had the sidekick and we tried to tie into some things from Tony Daniel’s Detective Comics.” No feeling of excitement for the chance to read the tale again or sense of dread of having to thumb through something terrible. Just “Oh yeah…that’s what this was.” So it’s a pretty middle-of-the-road book. It’s saving grace is that it’s really cheap if you fetch it from Amazon.
Catwoman has taken to stealing cars and she has a new fence after the tragic death of her old one in the previous volume. The inclusion of a guy with electric super powers sounds like a pretty awful idea, but surprisingly this new guy, Spark, never became annoying. Yeah, the moments of him zapping everyone felt really out of place but as a character himself he was alright. He added some interesting elements to the story. Still kind of funny that a guy with the ability to produce electricity would only be a small-time thief, but again, I stress that you look past his meta-human abilities and simply view him as a complicated and mysterious ally and love interest.
We don’t get much face-time with the fence and even today at issue #17 I don’t have a good grasp on her character. The new grand theft auto jobs she and Catwoman are running, however, are a lot of fun to read and Melo draws them well. Melo does a pretty great job of matching the style of March’s previous run except for the faces. Catwoman has some awfully ugly looking faces in this comic that I made fun of quite a bit in earlier reviews. Colorists Morey and Reber give volumes 1 and 2 a consistent look but the latter half of the comic’s colors get a bit nasty looking. It’s not exactly pleasing to the eye, but the places that look so sickly are actually supposed to be gross so I think we should tip our hats to them, really. We start off vibrant and clean and then toward the end it’s like the pages become grimy. You see, the fun GTA missions vanish and we’re treated to a rather lame Court of Owls crossover that detracts from our main plot and then we get into a creepy serial killer thing that ties into the Faces of Death TPB from Detective Comics. You don’t need to have read that book though so don’t worry. You’ll be fine going into this whether you’ve read Detective or even Catwoman volume 1 for that matter. It’s a pretty easy TPB to jump into. The only problem is that the story is overlong, Dollhouse is a lame villain, and it seems kind of clear that Winick was phoning it in near the end when he was going to be leaving the series. The ending is far from satisfying.
There are some really great cover sketches by Guillem March that weren’t used. I actually liked some of these originals a lot better than the finished product. You’ll find these drawings across six pages at the end of the book. There isn’t any commentary by March, but the numerous step-by-step images give you a good idea of the evolution of these covers. After that there’s a couple pages of early character designs for Dollhouse and Spark as well as a shrunken down image of Capullo’s talon design for Catwoman #9.
$14.99 isn’t too shabby but not quite good enough for me. I would buy this book for the $8.56 Amazon price though. It seems to be worth that much to me. I mean $8.56 wouldn’t even buy you 3 issues of Catwoman on the day of release so getting six issues for that price is a steal.
There are fun parts and there are parts that are kind of lame, but I think the fast pace, frequent action, and very affordable price tag can win you over. It’s not a must-read, but it’s not something that you’ll be angry with yourself for spending $8.56 on if you enjoyed the first volume of Catwoman. However, if you didn’t like Winick’s first arc you definitely won’t care for this. By the way, if you want to read a really good comic with a dollhouse theme, check out Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll’s House. Holy crap is that amazing! I haven’t read that book in about 10 years and I still remember it. This on the other hand, I forgot about within 7 months.