Catwoman #40 “The Issue & End”
Written by Genevieve Valentine
Art by Garry Brown
Colors by Lee Loughridge

We’ve reached the end of what’s been, in my opinion, an excellent arc. I’ve described Valentine’s narrative as a “slow burn,” where she intertwines intricate plots and details, building suspense with every issue. So how well does she close out this arc? If I’m being honest, I’m a little torn. Don’t get me wrong, I thought it was really good, but how she chooses to follow this arc, will ultimately impact my thoughts on this arc.

Before we jump into the details though, let’s recap what’s taken place so far. And naturally, if you haven’t been reading this run, then there are some spoilers. Selina, the daughter of Rex “The Lion” Calabrese, has taken over the family business in hopes of uniting the Gotham crime families. Despite a struggle, and the need to prove herself, Selina has risen rather quickly in Gotham, while trying to maintain her own moral code. There was still some uneasiness with some of the families pertaining to Selina’s ascension, and even some lack of confidence within her own team. These doubts provided Black Mask the perfect opportunity to strike, after catching Selina’s cousin, Nick, working with the GCPD against the Calabrese family. Black Mask capitalizes on the opportunity, revealing this as a weakness in the Calabrese family, splitting the ranks of the families. In one swift move, he creates an alliance with the Hasigawa family – giving him control of the docks, forces the GCPD to turn their attention to the Calabrese family, and creates an alliance with political leaders.

Never a stranger to being the underdog, Selina rises to the opportunity before her by presenting her own power plays, countering Black Mask at nearly every step of the venture. Two of her biggest moves against Black Mask being her growing loyalty with Eiko Hasigawa, who has recently taken on the roll of Catwoman in Selina’s absence, as well as her budding allegiance with Penguin after courting him back into the middle of the Gotham underground.

Now we’re in an all-out gang war. Black Mask has made his moves, and Selina has responded – the two of them dancing around politics, one power play after another, targeting family, friends, and more importantly, reputation. Everyone is a target, and Selina knows this. She puts plans into motion to help her protect the people she cares for, and hopes that they’ll follow orders. With Ward, she knows she has to end this, but wants as few casualties as possible. And with that foundation established, she implements one strike after another to immobilize Black Masks attempts at gaining control of the city. Everyone plays a role in this war, and their involvement weighs on the outcome. Antonia makes a decision that could ruin Selina. Eiko straddles the line of ally and enemy, eventually picking a side at Selina’s request. The GCPD are involved. Batman is still around. The Penguin has made his move in working to gain control of Gotham. And Selina’s brother is still a factor, as are the Hasigawa family, and Black Mask.

I don’t want to give anything away, so simply put, A LOT happens in this issue. But strangely enough, it doesn’t feel like much happens here. Valentine has always played into subtlety, and relied on you to piece the plots and motives together… but this is an instance where brawn may have been a little more effective than brain. The direness of the current situation never really feels that dire. There’s only a few panels here and there that show the gang war taking place, so as a reader, you feel disconnected form the danger. Above that, it feels like you’re thrown into the war, only for it to resolve itself rather quickly and easily. It’s not bad by any means, but the close of the arc almost felt more like a recap of what took place, rather than getting to fully experience the situation.

Now, I know it sounds as though I’m not happy with the way this arc has concluded, but that’s the thing… I’m not sure this specific plot has actually ended. It doesn’t feel like we’re moving on to a new story and focus, but that we’ve only completed the first chapter of a much larger story. Selina has essentially canceled out Black Mask, but he’s still at large – as are other crime families that may still have reservations about her leading the Gotham underworld. My gut tells me that this is just the foundation of what’s to come, and I find that extremely exciting! Did I walk away feeling completely satisfied with the outcome of this issue? Not completely. Not yet, anyway. Do I still think this is a defining moment for Selina and Catwoman? You better believe it!

 

The Art: Brown’s art is a topic of debate. I really like the style and aesthetic of his art on this book. It adds a grittiness and tone to the title that fits the current plot perfectly. That being said, a lot of his characters can easily be confused with one another, and that’s not a good thing with a plot this complex. I am excited that a new artist will take over the book in June considering Selina’s new direction.

For a glimpse of the internal art, check out the spoiler tag.

Spoiler

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Recommended if:

  • You’re curious to see how Selina regains control of the underworld.
  • You’re want to see where each of the supporting characters’ journey leads them.
  • You’ve missed seeing Selina as Catwoman.

 

Overall: The conclusion to this arc may be a little more abrupt, and tamer than what I was expecting, but it’s a damn good book. It feels like a prologue of what’s to come, and if this is just the beginning, then I can’t wait to see what’s in store next!

 

SCORE: 8/ 10