Catwoman #45 “The Daughter of One Who Had No Fear
Written by Genevieve Valentine
Art by David Messina
Colors by Lee Loughridge
After reading this issue, all I want to do is throw a temper tantrum about Valentine leaving. I’m talking full-on screaming and kicking, while rolling around on the floor… Like a hungry, angry baby…. In Dan Didio’s office…. Loud enough so Jim Lee can hear from his office next door. This is such a loss. Not only for this book, but for Gotham as well.
We’re quickly reaching the end of Valentine’s terrific run, and it just gets better with each issue. She’s put so much work and effort in to pulling Selina out of the hell hole that Nocenti put the character in, and it’s a shame that right as Valentine is hitting her stride with Selina as Catwoman, a new (unfortunately less exciting) team is announced. It looks like the Selina Kyle we’ve wanted since the launch of the New 52 will end up being a fleeting memory.
This issue picks up with Eiko mourning her father. I want to point out how much I love this! Throughout the entirety of Valentine’s run, Eiko has been working against her father, who is aligned with Black Mask. I feel like many writers would’ve taken this two different directions: Eiko would’ve continued having “daddy issues” and not been affected because he had it coming (I hate when writers take this route), or she could’ve gone all, “I hate the world…” Which, in a way she kind of does, but it’s more focused on getting revenge against Black Mask than becoming overtly homicidal. Kind of… More on that later though.
As for our leading lady, this issue brought about a completely different energy than what we’ve seen from her. I couldn’t place what specifically led to that during my initial read-through, but realized it three pages into my second read-through, and quickly skimmed the entire issue to validate myself: Selina Kyle does not appear in this issue. It’s ALL Catwoman! Every scene Selina is in, she’s Catwoman… And that slight difference made a huge impact!
Catwoman was on her game here, determined to get to Black Mask before Eiko. And holy mother is this the Selina/ Catwoman that I love! She’s crafty, calculated, and reminds nay-sayers to NEVER underestimate her. I feel like Catwoman is at her best when she’s living in moral ambiguity while holding firmly onto her humanity. This issue delivers that perfectly!
I will admit that one of my biggest concerns heading into Valentine’s run was the inclusion of Black Mask since he played such a critical role in Brubaker’s Catwoman. I was paranoid that this team was just going to recreate what came before – as a number of writers have done since the launch of the New 52. Thankfully, that hasn’t been the case. The approach of having Selina run the mob was a great way to ensure that there was a distinct difference in the two runs. But then Selina started operating as Catwoman again, and I got a little nervous again. Ultimately, I should’ve had more faith In Valentine. Where Selina acted on rage and revenge in Brubaker’s run, here she acts because it is the best solution out of all possible scenarios. Her endgame is a little different than before, and how she makes it happen is the really interesting bit. And then there’s everything that takes place with the Penguin, Spoiler, Killer Croc, and Antonia…
Be warned, there are spoilers below!
The Art: I’ve been a big fan of Messina’s art, and I believe he’s gotten better at his craft over time. Even within his short run on this book, he’s improved his craft. It appears as though he’s gotten more comfortable with the characters and their nuances, just as a writer would. He’s gained an understanding of who they are, and their body language. There were so many subtleties that I noticed with Catwoman that I’d never noticed from him before. She was sultry and sexy in way that had been foreign to Messina’s art prior to this.
I will admit that he does have an opportunity with action. I don’t think his action panels are bad by any means. They’re dramatic and deliver, but they aren’t fluid. The movement of his characters can look very stagnate from time to time, almost as if they were posing. While this is an area I think he has improved on, I still think there is some room for growth.
For a sample of some of the internal art, click the spoiler tag.
The Good: Catwoman. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Catwoman prominently. And while I feel that Selina is very much the same person while acting as Catwoman, running the mob has put Selina in a different situation that forces her hand and decisions in certain way. Now that she’s stepping away from the mob world and passing the torch to Antonia, she’s able to embrace her true self again… and man, oh man, the energy of that is electric.
Cutting Deep. Catwoman… Penguin… and Black Mask. This plot was spectacular! Catwoman knows she needs to get to Black Mask before Eiko so she can prevent Eiko from going too far. But what I really loved about this, is the plan itself. Catwoman and Penguin work together to set Black Mask up, and it’s perfect. Penguin has been playing both sides since his introduction of the mob war since his introduction, and now that it’s clear that Black Mask is on the fall, he chooses his final side. He still plays the part of a loyalist to Black Mask, revealing his underground tunnels to him, actually setting him up. Catwoman is there waiting for him, and she’s going to take him out for good. And Messina’s art couldn’t be any better…
And then you realize that her plan wasn’t to kill him at all. Instead, it was just another set-up, so Penguin could assist him, and in turn, make a power play against Black Mask to push him out of the city, allowing Mr. Cobblepot to move one step closer to running Gotham. It was brilliant, and Selina doesn’t have blood on her hands in the respect of a murder.
Gotham. I’ve said this before, and I’m saying it again. Valentine makes the best use of Gotham over any other writer in my opinion. There are so many characters in her plot: Catwoman, Penguin, Black Mask, Bruce, RoboBats, Spoiler, Killer Croc, the GCPD, and original characters such as Eiko, Antonia, and Ward… The way she utilizes the city and its inhabitants is very similar to how these characters would be featured in a film. In my opinion it’s the best way to write comics. Yes, there will always be a feature character/ villain, but these other characters are still out there, living and functioning in the city. We get to see that here. And it’s great!
The Bad: There isn’t much bad here… at all. I know I praised this earlier – and it isn’t bad as much as it’s the weakest part of this issue – but it is Eiko. The plot involving Eiko at the beginning of the issue was handled incredibly well. She’s upset. She’s angry. She blames herself for her father’s death. But in all of that, she never reaches a level of crazy. Vengeful? Hell yeah! And she has every right to be! But she’s not about to start a homicidal rampage in a rage of fury. She has a very specific target: Black Mask. Selina ends up beating her to the punch though – mostly for Eiko’s sake, but to also prevent another escalating gang war. With him out of the way, Eiko decides that she needs to end small family crime, and the only way for her to do that, is by eliminating the families…. Ok… Now we’re moving into crazy, homicidal territory. Or are we? Since the beginning, Eiko has rejected this life. She’s fought against it to try and end it in an honorable way, and it failed her. In fact, it killed her father. Something she considers petty and pointless killed her last living relative – which, if you remember, isn’t the first time she’s lost someone she cares about in this run – and now her resolution to stopping this behavior permanently, is to stop the people behind it permanently. The close of this book could easily be taken two separate ways, we’ll just have to wait until next month to find out. I’m hoping (desperately) that Eiko doesn’t become a blood thirsty psycho, but instead, someone who is just incredibly angry and misguided.
- You love when Catwoman is large and in charge.
- You’ve been on the edge of your seat to see how Penguin’s role in this plot would play out.
- You like dramatic, well written stories that have a solid build and a worthwhile payoff.
Overall: Valentine’s Catwoman is everything I want it to be: sexy, smart, and a damn good ride! This is the best we’ve ever seen Selina Kyle!