Catwoman #34: “Remote Life”
Written by Ann NOcenti
Art by Patrick Olliffe

For a while, I never thought this day would come… Today, Ann Nocenti released her last issue of Catwoman! I cannot begin to tell you how overjoyed I am. I know I’ve been hard on Ann, but the quality of work she turned out deserved the criticism. I’ve essentially convinced myself that her time on Catwoman never happened. It’s a shame too, because she helmed this book during a time when amazing stories could’ve been written. Just imagine what would’ve happened if Winnick (even with his faults), had continued writing this title… Or maybe someone like Tim Seeley who’s been covering most of Catwoman’s involvement for Batman Eternal. Imagine how different the plots pertaining to Gwen working for the Penguin, the turf war, and Selina being wanted by the detectives would’ve been. Imagine how much better “Death of the Family” could’ve been…. Damian’s “Requiem”… Her transition into the JLA… It’s pretty damn depressing to think about… It’s so depressing that I kind of wish someone could come in and re-write those issues/stories. So… Depressing….
But the depression has ended! It ended the moment I closed this issue! So now we can all celebrate!!! Yay!!!! Dance party!!! Shots!!! Jesse is going to be the Hype Ma-

Wait! Time out. Pause the dance party… I’ve got to write the review for this issue first…

With the last arc wrapped, and only one issue left, Nocenti decided to focus on our resident, techie recluse, Alice Tesla. How is the issue? Well, it’s bad… but for Nocenti, it’s decent. Selina is wealthy and bored, so she decides to pay Tesla a visit. After establishing that she has no tangible life outside of her gadgets and games, Tesla reminds Selina that people will most likely be after her for winning the Race of Thieves. For their protection, they should look into a safe house, and Tesla has a place in mind: an abandoned Murder Museum.

Selina humors her, and decides to check it out. The two embark on their home-shopping journey – Tesla complaining the whole time, despite the fact that she recommended that the two of them go check out the place – and as we all know, everything is going to go smoothly. They break into the old museum, and are greeted by wax figures showcasing acts of murders…. And a trap. As security bars drop, blocking all of the windows and doors, Catwoman quickly catches on that there’s more to this story than she knows. It’s at this time that Tesla discovers a wax figure of her avatar from an online game she plays. Connecting the dots, Selina demands that she “spill, or else,” beginning Tesla’s Dungeons & Dragons  tale of woe, victory, and something that is similar, but far from, pretend love with an elf named Cyberius.

Turns out, this is Cyberius’ lair, and he was expecting Tesla. With Selina separated and trapped, Cyberius challenges Tesla to a real life, artificial intelligence, cyber creature battle. It’s like Pokemon, meets Transformers, meets World of Warcraft as the two create monsters to fight each other. Is Tesla in over her head? Who is Cyberius, and why does he want to challenge Tesla? And when all said and done, who will get the last laugh? The only way to find out, is to read Ann’s final issue of Catwoman!…. Which ends with a cliffhanger that I hope never comes to light in this book ever again…

Recommended If:

  • You’re a fan of Ann Nocenti.
  • You’re curious to see how Nocenti ends her run.
  • Alice Tesla is one of your favorite supporting characters.
  • You’ve wondered what it would be like if Catwoman and Felicia Day’s The Guild were connected

The Art: There are times that Olliffe’s art looks really good, and then there are times that it just doesn’t. I don’t think I’ve ever liked the way he’s drawn Catwoman, but I’ve never been able to express why, so I’ve kept it to myself. Tesla looks great in a couple of panels, as Olliffe takes advantage of this closing issue to showcase his strength – eyes. I still think Olliffe delivers some amazingly telling, and emotional eyes. Sometimes the best way to say something, is by not verbally saying anything at all – especially in the case of this book. You can completely feel and understand what his characters are going through due to their eyes, and I love that. Kudos.

The Good: Let’s just take the silver lining and look at it this way. “Remote Life” is a somewhat cohesive story, that didn’t’ make me want to drink. For Ann, that’s a win.

The Bad: I’m not a fan of Tesla. She’s like a strange wanna-be version of Oracle. I’m not quite sure why Ann decided to focus on her for this last issue.

Selina yelling “Unplug!”

Cyberius was kind of a joke as well. I bet Tesla could’ve thrown a “right hook” and decked the guy. And the fact that the issue ended with Cyberius looking over an army of A.I. Monsters made up of his and Tesla’s designs, makes me so glad that Ann Nocenti will not have the ability to continue this story.

Overall: It’s Ann’s last issue, and she didn’t do anything to blow me away. I didn’t expect her to, but I was hoping she would up her game a little. I guess she did, but only because it was a one-shot story, and it didn’t allow her to go off the reservation with crazy, nonsensical stories (or at least to the extent that she usually does). I wouldn’t recommend this book, or this issue, to anyone because I don’t see the point. So much of her run has been an utter disappointment. I don’t know if I’ve ever read a comic as bad as her Catwoman. That being said, her run hasn’t been COMPLETELY terrible. There have been a few highlights here and there, and I think it’s only fair that I take the time to cover them. For the sake of space, I’m putting them in a spoiler tag.

Spoiler

……       ………     ………    ……..     ……..      ……..    ………………..yep…..

I know! I know! I’m a terrible person. Here’s the thing. Part of me has felt bad about the negativity I’ve brought to this book. Since I won’t really get another opportunity to say this, I want to include it here. I desperately want to find something redeeming for Nocenti. She’s had a long career in comics, and has had some pretty decent moments according to some reviews of her. Because of that, I’m purposely picking up some of her other work. I’m going to check out her run on Daredevil, and will hopefully be able to speak to it a little in a (possibly, maybe) future “Break from Batman” post.

I also looked up interviews with her to try and get a better understanding of her as a writer. What I gathered, is that she’s really passionate about young girls reading comics. I have to applaud that. It’s a starving market, only because I don’t feel it’s ever really been open to young girls. Looking back at her run, I can kind of see attempting to do this. It’s almost like she wrote this for girls in grade school. The logic, and emotional reactions and reasoning are on par with this idea as well (there’s some concerning content issues with this theory, but we’re giving Ann the benefit of the doubt here). I’m not excusing how bad the issues have been, but I do understand what she was attempting to do… I just think Catwoman was the wrong book to do this with. Selina thrives off her complexity and depth, and that was never brought to the table under Ann.

Ann’s also been a HUGE advocate for finding ways to make comics more accessible for people – especially through the digital market. The fact that she pushes for more kids and women to involve themselves with comics, is pretty respectful. I discuss the negative aspects of Catwoman so much, that I think it tarnishes her name as well. The reality is, her history with comics, what she’s done for women and children over time, and her push to make comics more accessible for people across the board, is pretty amazing. And for that, I give Ann Nocenti an 8/10. Unfortunately, for this issue, I give it a…

SCORE: 4/ 10