A coherent, beautifully illustrated story about a street-tough woman with sex-appeal who resides in a moral grey zone that allows her to be a smart anti-hero who helps others yet serve her own self interest more often than not as she moonlights as a thief. She slips seamlessly into elegant parties, steals priceless items, she’s a mystery, unattainable, and she definitely knows how to kick butt! You might think I just described a Catwoman comic, but you’d be wrong. Go look back on the last year’s worth of books titled “Catwoman.” That s*** ain’t there, I promise you. Nope, what writer John Layman and artist Aaron Lopresti have delivered here is an all-new character for the New 52 Universe, one who I would actually like to read more about! Heck, I say we bring her into the Batman mythology even more– I think she’d make a great love interest for our hero!
Seriously though, this is a pretty good issue. Sure, it’s mind-blowingly awesome by comparison to basically the last sixteen issues or so of The New 52 Catwoman, but by my traditional comic-grading standards (which are pretty arbitrary given what mood I’m in and what I ate that day) it’s worthy of 3 out of 4 stars, which is excellent.
In the latest $1 extra Zero Year tie-in comic, we flashback to Selina’s early days as a thief and it might actually retcon what Ann Nocenti wrote in her issue #0 origin tale that borrowed from Batman Returns and the Halle Berry film “Catwoman.” I’d double check to make sure, but every time I open that #0 comic my eyes start to burn so I’ll just leave it to some helpful readers to clarify in the comments section at the bottom of the page. Fill-in writer, John Layman (Detective Comics, Chew) utilizes his trademark non-linear storytelling in this done-in-one issue that sees Selina using her burgling prowess for the good of her downtrodden community. Much like the beginning of his Detective Comics run, Layman acknowledges elements from the works of previous writers immediately… even when he probably shouldn’t. The Tony Daniels material should be ignored in Detective Comics, but Nocenti’s work on Catwoman should be stricken from the record entirely. I liked that Lola from Winick’s run was referenced (she was the close friend and fence for Selina Kyle) in this comic but to actually see a struggling Gothamite explain to his family that they could all escape the incoming storm and seek refuge in the subterranean city beneath Gotham’s streets (Nocenti’s run) gave me a migraine.
Outside of the references to other comics (including his own, we actually tie-in to Detective Comics #25), Layman’s original story is quite good and it’s actually a heist. An easy to follow, clearly explained end-goal, robbery. You see, when a wealthy and powerful Gothamite and his goons ransack Selina’s local store and essentially doom her entire community to survive the catastrophe without batteries, food, medicine, or water, Selina stands up to do the right thing and steal all the supplies back. It’s one of the most heroic depictions of Catwoman I’ve seen, which is fine for a one-shot but I’d honestly like to see more stories in which the character does things that are more questionable or downright sinister. I want her to hop back and forth between both sides of the morality fence, show extraordinary smarts, and exude confidence as well as sex appeal (which are often the same thing). One of the aspects of Selina’s character that makes her so interesting and that I see overlooked quite often is that she really is an enigma. The reason why Batman is into her isn’t because she’s smoking hot and likes to play dress-up just like him, it’s because she’s the one woman he’s ever met that he can’t quite figure out. Did you ever see Irene Adler in BBC’s Sherlock (it makes the Robert Downey Jr. movies look like trash)? Sort of like that. Another aspect of Catwoman’s character that’s been absent in the New 52 and remains missing in this comic is a lack of Catwoman’s confidence. However, these flaws are all forgivable because, let’s face it, what we are seeing is so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so much better than anything that’s been in the Catwoman title for over a year now.
This is a story that is smart and a whole lot of fun with plenty of great action as we see Selina use rock-climbing tools (it’s explained, don’t worry), a little black dress, and her wits to break into a Gotham high-rise and save the day. There are even a few great cameos by other bat-characters that didn’t feel forced at all.
In addition to the writing being much improved, the art was gorgeous as well. In fact, I don’t think Selina Kyle has looked any better in the New 52 than she has in this issue. She’s stunning. There aren’t any gratuitous panel where she contorts her body to put her ass or boobs (or both) at the forefront of the frame nor does she dress like Ke$ha. There’s some dignity here and it’s a breath of fresh air. And not only is she beautiful and respectfully represented, but the rest of the comic is really well illustrated with highly expressive characters, detailed environments, and energetic action sequences that are a joy to watch unfold. I would love to see Aaron Lopresti and inker, Art Thibert, continue to draw this book.
- You want to read a good Selina Kyle story
- You want a book that’s fun and full of adventure
- You’re looking for an enjoyable done-in-one comic
- A good heist comic is always worth reading
- John Layman is one of your favorite writers
- You want to read a comic with a female lead in which the artwork doesn’t overly sexualize her
Yes, this is a positive review for a Catwoman comic. No, Ann Nocenti did not write this Catwoman comic. Look, it’s admittedly filler and it sucks that it costs a buck more, BUT it’s also the first time in a long time that you’re going to get a good Catwoman story so in that way it’s not filler and it is totally worth it. Just don’t forget that this creative team will NOT be here again, this is a one-time only event.