Catwoman #37 “Sooner or Later You Will Descend”
Written by Genevieve Valentine
Art by Gary Brown

Have I told you how much I love this new creative team? Well, let me – I love this new creative team! If you haven’t checked out Catwoman since Nocenti’s departure, then I strongly advise you pick up issues 35-37. And even if you’ve only picked up one or two issues, pick this issue up before you make a decision to drop it from your rotation. I don’t consider this issue to be a game changer, but you definitely get a clear direction of where this book will take you. And if you need more incentive or proof as to how much better this book has gotten, read Ann Nocenti’s Catwoman “Race of Thieves” (it’s terrible), then read these three issues.

For those of you that haven’t been keeping up with what’s going on in Gotham… Shame on you! Selina has put her Catwoman identity away for the moment, and is currently running the crime business in Gotham as the head of the Calabrese family. It’s a new and exciting role to see Selina in, and she stays true to herself while doing so… As much as she can anyway. She reminisces about the simplicity of her nights as Catwoman, working alone, without the want or care for others. She now leads her life with a slight hesitation as she creates her own path – knowing that at some point, her morals and ideals will be challenged. The creative change has introduced a specific weight and uncertainty to Selina and this book – most of it expressed through the book’s quieter moments – that has created a slow burn of building tension… And we finally get to see the consequences of some of these previous actions.

Valentine has crafted a tight, layered story with plenty of texture. To say that Selina’s house is in order would be laughable. She’s running the mob and doing alright, all things considered, but the other families don’t trust her, or feel that she’s necessarily capable. On top of that, there’s dissention in the ranks of her own family, the police are on her trail, Black Mask has vowed to bring her down, there’s an imposter Catwoman in Gotham that’s tied to another mob family, and two deals – a gun deal and a heroine deal – are going south as she tries to maneuver through the politics of being a mob boss… All the while, she’s still trying to hold on to her humanity, and convince herself that she can do the job successfully. It’s fascinating. And all of this, plus more, has happened within three issues. THREE ISSUES!

Selling all of it, are the characters. Each character feels like a believable individual. Despite many of them having short coverage so far, they all contain distinct traits and personalities. They’re interesting in their own right, and feel like they’ve had years of development behind them. I can’t stress how critical this is to Catwoman, and the crucial role it plays in making this story successful. The interactions between characters are written extremely well, and every panel is purposeful, progressing not only the story itself, but each character that is featured. It all ties nicely into a cohesively complex story, scattered with subtleties.

I also can’t describe how perfect the title is for this issue, “Sooner or Later, You Will Descend.” That pretty much sums up where Selina is throughout this whole issue. Last month, we discovered that someone within Selina’s ranks was feeding information to the GCPD about the family’s plans. Black Mask learns of this, and makes it public news early in this issue. But he doesn’t do it out of respect for the Calabrese family or a life of crime, he does it to play mind games with Selina. While she continues to present herself as the confident leader, she’s equally plagued with doubt and loathing. There are cracks in her foundation, and Black Mask knows that. While still a little crazy and slightly spastic, he’s also calculated and driven. As Selina puts plans into motion to run the city based on her standards, Black Mask does the same to unravel her. This forces Selina to make some decisions, and if I’m being honest, what she decides to do shocks me a little. It’s not even completely what she does, it’s how she does it, and how she deals with it… I don’t want to give too much away here, as I know some of you read the reviews before picking up titles, but this is definitely the toughest decision she’s had as a mob boss, and she has to deliver – not only for her, but for the sake of every family working for her.

Recommended if:

  • You love complex stories with complex characters
  • You’re a fan of when Catwoman is forced to make morally questionable decisions.
  • You are a fan of Brubaker’s Catwoman “Relentless”

 

Be warned, there are spoilers below.

The Art: I’m still a fan of Brown’s art. His grit and texture lend perfectly to this story. He and Valentine also work really well together to craft a cohesive story where both art forms really complement each other. It’s rare that pairings work so well together, but these two play to each other’s strengths. It’s not the cleanest art, but I don’t think it needs to be. It’s very stylized for a narrative that relies heavily on relationships and character interactions more so than action.

As always, I’ve provided some of the internal art for you to review.

Spoiler

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The Good: Aside from nearly everything, there were a few things that stood out to me.

Black Mask. This is a great interpretation of the character, and he’s barely done anything. He’s essentially just setting Selina up, so he can make a move, causing to her to almost take herself down slowly.

The kiss. How she handles Detective Alvarez is amazing! The fact that she walked into the precinct, pretty much tells him that his informant is dead, then kisses him publicly… I loved it. Every bit of that was Catwoman at her best.

The kill. This is what shocked me. I was convinced that Selina was going to find a way to keep Nick alive, but she didn’t. She made the decision to kill her own family, and made Antonia do it! They’re brother and sister! Selina made Antonia kill her brother, Nick, for being a traitor! This is how Selina is winning the trust of the other families. She had to make a public sacrifice, and the moment she realized that, she ordered it without hesitation. That’s not to say that it didn’t weigh on her, it just happened to be her only move… God I love this book!

 

The Bad: Some of the dialogue got a little awkward at some points, but I also think that could be attested to the fact that these weren’t exactly comfortable situations. And even though it can cause readers confusion at times, Valentines use of fragmented sentences is fantastic.

Overall:  There aren’t enough people reading this book, and that’s honestly a shame. I full believe that when this arc is finished, it will go down as one of the greatest Catwoman arcs of all time. There’s just so much depth and moral ambiguity that it puts Selina in a position where she thrives. Go get this book!

SCORE: 9/10