Catwoman reaches its 50th issue, and because of that, we’re graced with an extra-sized issue! This is also the conclusion to Tieri’s current story, so I was excited to see that he had some additional pages to wrap things up, because, quite frankly, he needed it… So imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the main story is roughly 20 pages, and that it’s followed by two short stories…. I went from curious and intrigued to “let’s get this over with” in a matter of milliseconds.
What I feared last month appears to be the case… Tieri is squeezing a lot of plot into a short number of issues, and it’s causing the narrative to feel rushed. I hope that this is a result of Rebirth, and that Tieri didn’t intend on trying to cover so much in such little time…
If you read my previous reviews, then you know that I really enjoyed the first two issues of Tieri’s run. In many ways, he took Catwoman back to basics, but kept her characterization strong, and introduced an intriguing storyline with a corrupt cop. I thought that the story would stay on this level and live in this morally ambiguous limbo as Selina tried to clear her name of murder, while holding onto a hot diamond that belonged to Penguin. But then the plot expanded and began to suffer from bloat… What we thought was just a simple heist, turned set-up, was actually way more complicated than that… The diamond that Catwoman stole – which she later learned belonged to Penguin – ends up being a container for a flash drive of private information.
With sensitive material out in the open, Penguin puts a hit on Selina’s head, while she continues to try and escape the police, and figure out what’s on the drive. With most of her friends turning against her, and the Calabrese family tied up in legal issues, Selina is left to fend for herself… until a mysterious person known as Mr. Blond begins helping her. Mr. Blond’s help pushes Selina towards Bruce Wayne, and then right into the cops’ hands… Which is where this issue picks up.
Selina is in jail, and still has a big target on her back due to Penguin’s ordered hit. It’s not just the prisoners that are after her though, it’s the guards as well. She manages to buy some time by making a point that Penguin won’t pay anyone anything unless they can give him the diamond, and then earns herself a night in solitary to ensure nobody can get to her. While in solitary, she’s fed information and warnings from Mr. Blond that helps keep her safe. Some of Gotham’s worst take swipes at Selina thanks to some inside help – hmm… I wonder who that is… (I’m being sarcastic) – before Mr. Blond sends Selina some reinforcements of her own. The backup allows Selina allows Selina the opportunity she needs to discover what’s on the flash drive, who Mr. Blond is, and why this information is so important to him, bringing the story to an incredibly fast close!
Is the story bad? No… but it’s far from great. The details and character development that are found in the first two issues of the arc are quickly abandoned for the sake of closing out the story. Tieri took a solid foundation that was established by Valentine, and used that to his advantage to begin an equally entertaining – yet tonally different – narrative for Catwoman. And then the story experienced bloat, before quickly running through a checklist of plot threads that needed to be addressed, only to put a period on the narrative by closing out the story with a lot of exposition. Ultimately I feel let down, and want to point a big middle finger at someone… I just don’t know who is at fault.
The Art: Inaki’s pencils are probably the best that Catwoman has featured for a while now. I enjoyed what Brown and Messina brought to the book, but there’s something about clean art that is hard to beat. I do have issues with some of the design choices, but when all is said and done, that’s a very minor complaint. I did notice some inconsistency with the art, that I can only assume is due to rushing. I first noticed it last month, and it appears to have popped up yet again. Other than these two callouts, the art is strong and really enjoyable.
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
The Good: Something wicked this way comes.
I’m a huge fan of Zsasz, so I’m always happy to see him pop up. He’s a wickedly evil character that, in my opinion, isn’t used enough. Tieri only uses Zsasz briefly, but in that short amount of time, he does a good job of making him as sadistic as possible.
Ivy and Harley. Because of Gotham City Sirens, I always get a little excited/ nostalgic when I see these three ladies together. Regarding continuity, they don’t have a documented history in the New 52, but it’s easy to assume and imply that they have established a bond given their history in crime. Harley wins major points with her Shawshank line, and then tops it when she mentions she’s not a black man “today.” I got a good laugh out of that!
Mr. Blond. Revealing that Luthor is Mr. Blond is the perfect reveal/ climax for this arc! I wish more time had been taken to tell this story, because it could have made this particular storyline even better. What really sucks with this though, is that it could have opened up NUMEROUS plot threads for Catwoman in the future, IF the title were continuing. There’s an unholy triangle that has been developed between Catwoman, Penguin, and Lex, and it’s a shame that it won’t be explored further. But for this alone, Lex was the perfect savior and foil for Selina.
The Bad: The pacing. This story was already high energy and fast paced, but Tieri did a damn good job balancing that energy with characterization and attention to detail… in the first two issues. Last month and this month, that pace increased, and the details and moments faded, causing the story to feel generic. It’s really disappointing because Tieri proved he isn’t a generic writer!
The kitchen sink. Part of the problem with this issue, and the story as a whole, is that there ended up being too many characters. Let’s stop for a second and think about who was involved in 4 issues: Catwoman, Tesla, Penguin, Killer Croc, Batgirl, Bruce Wayne, Scagnetti, Bullock, Harley, Ivy, Riddler, Black Mask, Zsasz, Clayface, Firefly, and Louie… That’s way too many characters for a four-issue story… Had there been half of these characters, the story would have felt more grounded, and it would’ve allowed for more characterization and details.
Tesla: Super Self Defense Chick. This is a minor thing, but when Tesla thought she was being followed and attacked the guy, I literally said, “Nooooo….” out loud. I like Tesla as the genius tech girl. I don’t want her to have fighting skills. Nocenti (dear God it pains me to go back to those days) established that she is a recluse, so how does she even know how to fight? I think this is a miss for the character. She doesn’t need martial arts skills to be strong. There’s plenty of strength in what she does without kicking butt.
When In Rome, get a tan. Selina scoring a payload, then traveling to a tropical location to soak up some sun feels really tired. It distinctly stands out for me from When In Rome, but I believe it’s happened a few other times as well… I like to see Selina win, but I’d also like to see her do something else with her money.
In addition to the main story, we were also treated to two short stories that were really enjoyable! I don’t understand why these pages (or the final two issues of this title for that matter) weren’t utilized to create a more satisfying final product, but that’s going to be the extent of my complaining. Between the two stories they run a total of 15 pages: the first feeling almost like a pitch, and the second serving as a nice moment.
I really enjoyed this! Most of this story focuses on Black Mask’s actual mask, and its place in history. Mystical elements are implied – both from a Native American standpoint and witchcraft – that brings about the idea that there is something evil with the mask itself. The notion was covered tastefully by Tieri, and wasn’t over the top.
The story also touches on previous continuity, such as the False Face Society and the mask being burned onto its wearer. I loved the idea of there being, and that it would impact the person that wore it.
Selina is barely involved in the story, but between Brubaker and Valentine’s run, Black Mask has become such a staple for her character that it feels relevant. I hope somebody explores this idea a little more in the coming years because it could do a lot for both characters!
The second story is a short, five page narrative that is a lot of fun. There’s barely any dialogue and it’s far from earth shattering, but it made me smile! Because of that, I consider it a win!
- You’re curious to see how Selina gets out of this situation.
- You want to know who Mr. Blond is.
- You’ll take two bonus short stories.
Overall: This story fell short of what it could have been, and should have been. I don’t blame Tieri on this though. I feel as though he went in with a plan for a six or seven issue arc (maybe even more), put things into motion, then got derailed with Rebirth. It’s a shame too. If the first two issues of Tieri’s arc are a representation of what I assume he had planned, then readers are really missing out! This issue isn’t bad, it’s just disappointing. Thankfully, we get two solid short stories that end this chapter on a positive note.