Catwoman #48 “Run Like Hell” Part 2
Written by Frank Tieri
Art by Inaki Miranda
Colors by Eva de la Cruz
Last month I gave Tieri’s debut an 8.5/10, which wasn’t received too well by a few people. I’ll agree that my score may have been a little inflated because I was expecting something worse than the product that was delivered, but I don’t think I’d go as far as to say that the issue was “mediocre at best.” Now, I’m not saying you’re wrong if you thought that – everyone has their personal preference – I just didn’t see it that way. While the narrative may have been your standard heist plot, the characterization was on-point and above average. But I knew the true test would be this issue.
Last month we saw Selina separate herself from the Calabrese family, and fully embrace her identity as Catwoman again. There was, I admit, a paint-by-numbers heist in the issue, but it was still fun and sleek, with Selina as strong, edgy, and sexy as we’d hoped she would be. We were able to see Catwoman go back to her roots and do what she does best; something that I think was needed not only for readers to reboot a little, but for Selina as a character. My biggest problem with the last issue was that Selina’s fence was found dead at the end. For those of you keeping count, this is the third time this has happened since the launch of the New 52. So how does this issue fair? Is it more recycled storytelling, or was my score last month a decent reflection of the things to come?
I’m going to say that my score last month is a reflection of things to come (aka: it’s pretty damn good). What I was afraid might take place in this issue is far from what we received. The opening scene with the NYPD completely hooked me, and it wasn’t what I expected at all. I’m not going to give it away at the moment (I’ll save the discussion for my breakdowns at the end of my review), but I will tell you that it’s not standard fair, and it leans more towards the darker/ realistic side of life. Beyond the plot, the actual script for this scene is superb! Selina’s internal monologue, as well as her interaction with the detective, is master class.
Tieri also continues the path that was laid before him. Yes, Selina has left the Calabrese family, and hasn’t looked back. Yes, she is separating herself from the mob world and it’s ties, but the creative team still acknowledges that history. Fortunately for us (or unfortunately for Selina), that world isn’t finished with her. It turns out that the diamond Selina stole belongs to the Penguin, putting the two at odds with one another for an unpleasant reunion. And unfortunately, Selina’s strongest ally in Gotham, the Calabrese family, is in a world of trouble on their own.
With hardly anyone to turn to, Catwoman contacts the few allies she has available to her to get some support for this miss. Heavily featuring Penguin, Tesla, and two additional rogues from Gotham, this issue results in another fun, high energy read. But if Selina is going to make it through her current situation, she’s going to need to be careful concerning who she trusts.
The Art: This is the second glimpse of Miranda’s take on the art. There are times that I look at it, and I absolutely love it, and then there are times that I just think, “Yeah… it’s good.” If there’s one thing that become clear in this issue, it’s that stylistically – concerning the characters at least – Batman Returns is a big inspiration. The change to Selina’s appearance, despite its validity, was the first sign. Tieri even through a joke in as a nod. Then the moment I saw Miranda’s interpretation of Penguin, it was clear.
I am happy to say that the fashion in this issues looks more street wear than run-way, and Selina’s make-up doesn’t make her look like some new-age chick that works for MAC cosmetics and is trying to prove she’s bold by making daring make-up choices. The strength in the art is its overall tone. The best way I can describe it is “sleek,” and it’s very fitting for the book. What I’ve yet to figure out though, is what’s providing that tone more – the art or the script?
Breakdowns can be found in the spoiler tag.
The Good: Twisty, twisty. I’m not going to lie, I was concerned I had this book figured out after last month’s issue. I’m glad to say that I don’t. I previously mentioned the opening scene with the NYPD, and praised it for its quality writing. What I didn’t mention, were the two twists that were included with that scene. The first one was that the cops were the ones that were setting Selina up (or at least doing the grunt work), and the lead detective on the one who murdered Selina’s fence. What!?! I’m sold. That’s way beyond the standard dirty cop. And then, to make it even better, Tieri topped it off with a little wink saying, “Don’t worry, I know who I’m writing,” by having Selina confirm that she knew she was being double-crossed. It was a damn good start to the issue, and helped launch Tieri’s run with great momentum.
Building upon the foundation. I also said this above, but I don’t think readers realize how critical this is. I’ve heard people complain that the first half of Valentine’s run was slow or boring. The thing is, it had to be. Valentine had to completely rebuild this character and this brand after the mess that Nocenti left. By the end of her (short) run, she’d created a world full of textures and shades narratively, that were anchored by strong supporting characters. This foundation has allowed Tieri to launch the way that he has. Yes, Tieri’s writing – especially his dialogue – is good enough on its own, but his plot is greatly elevated by the past. If Selina had her interactions with Penguin throughout the mob days, the Penguin’s scene here would’ve carried less weight. Had Catwoman not developed the relationship with Croc, his turn on her at the end would’ve been less impactful. The reveal that Antonia was arrested for a murder she didn’t commit, added to Selina’s matching circumstances, and so on. Not only does it help elevate Tieri’s story, but it makes me happy just to see him respect good work that was done before him. I still hope that these threads won’t be dealt with, then thrown away though. I feel like Crock, Penguin, and even Antonia should continue to have a presence that ebbs and flows throughout this title.
The characters. Tieri continues his trend of writing strong characters. Now, I’ll admit that I am biased towards this because it’s what I consider the most important aspect of writing, but the voice of his characters are always spot on.
The narrative is fun. As much as I loved Valentine – and believe me, I LOVED her work on Catwoman – the tone of her writing was often a little too serious for some readers. I personally love that, but I know others don’t. Tieri keeps some of those tones confined to the dialogue, but he’s added a boost of energy to the book by introducing plots that are a little more mainstream and high energy.
Dragons. This is very minor, and ultimately just a theory based on a very small lead… but in one panel, I noticed a dragon on the digital billboard behind Selina, and it made me think of Eiko… then it made me wonder if Eiko will end up being the one behind this entire set-up. Again, it’s just a hunch that is more unlikely than it is likely, but I thought it would be worth mentioning in the event that it does play out that way.
The Bad: With the appearance of Clayface in this issue, and Batgirl popping up in the next issue, I’m concerned this book might turn into a revolving door of Gotham’s characters. I feel less concerned after this issue than I did going into this issue, but I do have a lingering curiosity.
Tesla. Look, this isn’t bad in regards to Tieri, but every time I see Tesla, I go back to Nocenti’s run, and that was bad. Actually it was terrible. It’s kind of like when people get attacked by a dog, and then years later they still fear all dogs because of that one instance… Tesla. She gives me Nocenti nightmares.
- You enjoy a book with good twists.
- You’re a fan of Catwoman.
- You enjoyed Tieri’s launch last month.
- You hoped that Tieri would continue some plots/relationships from Valentine’s run, and into his own.
Overall: Tieri’s Catwoman is a fun, high energy read with colorful plots and gritty characters. The twists will keep you guessing as the mystery behind this ever-growing ordeal continues to unfold. For those of you that were waiting to get a pulse on the new creative team, I’d say you’re safe. Go pick up this issue!