Spinning out of last month’s short story, “Night at the Museum,” Tieri continues the narrative he set in motion pertaining to the False Face Society, and the infamous faceless mask. I was pretty excited to see him build on this, because I really enjoyed the short story (although, I still wish the entire, oversized issue of Catwoman #50 would have been used to end his previous arc). In the short story, Tieri introduced the mask, and briefly captured its role throughout history, as well as the idea that the mask might be cursed. Now, I know there are some people out there that hate the idea of the “Black Mask” being mystical, and I was one of those people, but Tieri appears to be approaching this situation with some subtlety, so I’m on board with it… for now.
Richard Sionis, the father of Roman Sionis – Black Mask – has died, and now that he’s gone, Selina wants something he has… and that thing just happens to be the faceless mask. She breaks into his estate, but she’s not the only one in search of it. Long thought to be defunct, the False Face Society is still fully active, and they too have their eyes on the mask. The group believes that the mask will help bring their society back to the reputation it once had, with the help of their mysterious leader, White Mask… Yes, you read that correctly… White Mask… I know, I’ll get to it later. Don’t ask if it’s a reformed version of Black Mask, I said we’d get to it later!
This issue bounces between the present and the past. We get to see Selina as a young woman, just getting settled into a life of crime. She’s working with a man named David, who appears to be her partner in life and crime, and she has yet to don the mantle of Catwoman. David is the more experienced thief of the two, and he’s practically grooming Selina in his image, but their work is low level compared to what Selina does now. Yes, the concept is somewhat cliché, but it feels natural and honest, and that goes a long way with me.
I have to praise Tieri for his job in writing Selina at a young age as she develops her skills as a thief, and there’s an innocence he captures in her that is rarely ever seen. I can’t help but find her youthfulness refreshing, and it’s easy to imagine this story as a realistic transition from where she was at that point in her life, to where she is now. In some ways, this story feels like an introduction to Selina becoming Catwoman. It’s not an origin story, but it works well as the set-up that could lead to an origin story.
If you’re wondering about continuity, I’m choosing to ignore it. To put it simply, there’s already enough confusion surrounding the New 52’s continuity, and Rebirth is roughly a month and a half away, so there’s no point in making it a topic of discussion. Plus, you’re crazy if you think I’m going to pull out Nocenti’s Catwoman #0 to even try and determine where this story would fall. Yeah… Not happening!
As it turns out, Selina has a history with Richard Sionis as well. Their encounter is explored, and in my opinion, further solidifies her grudge with Black Mask. Unfortunately, the issue starts to see some ups and downs as the present day plays out, and the execution of the narrative crumbles in on itself to an extent as Black Mask makes his presence known in the story.
This is probably my biggest issue with Tieri as a writer, and it often makes me wish he had a co-writer. There are many aspects about Tieri’s writing that I really enjoy! I want to repeat that, because I don’t want to sound overly negative… There are many aspects about Tierie’s writing that I really enjoy! For one, I think he write Selina/ Catwoman really well, and I love the slight edge that he brings to his work. I also tend to like his overall direction. My problem with his writing can be found in his execution. Typically I find myself thinking, “I don’t think he fully thought this through.” I’ll be more specific in the breakdowns, but it can range from the steps of each plot, to whether something is just a good idea or not. It doesn’t destroy his book, but it does prevent something that is average or good from being great. And that’s how this issue turns out. There’s some good to be found here, but enough average that you’ll be left saying, “Ah! I really wish they would have…”
The Art: Miranda is still covering art duties, and the more I see of his work, the more familiar (and accepting) I become with his decisions. It’s fair to say that he provides the best pencils this book has had in a long time, and this issue didn’t look as rushed as last month’s release. That in and of itself is a plus, because when Miranda is on point, the art is pretty special.
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
The Good: Selina’s past. I talked about this earlier, but I really enjoyed seeing a younger, greener version of Selina. It helps round out her character, and provides some insight and shade to who she is. I loved it, and I’d read a six issue arc from Tieri featuring Selina during this point in her life any day.
Richard Sionis. This character is barely in the issue, and he doesn’t do anything overtly noteworthy, but he still makes an impact. Tieri captures his character really well in the short scene where Richard confronts Selina and David in the alley. It’s brief, but he manages to pack a big punch in very limited space thanks in part to Miranda’s art.
Black Mask. All I’m going to say, is that it’s nice to see Black Mask be pretty scary…
The Bad: White Mask. Alright… I’m going to be honest. I think this is lame. From the character itself, to the reveal of who is wearing the mask. If White Mask and Black Mask end up teaming up, I’m going to call them yin-yang. I can’t help but view the idea of taking Black Mask, and recreating with a white mask is a little lazy. And yes, there will probably be some “prodigal son” story here since Sionis didn’t get along with dear, old dad… but even that is predictable.
What bothers me even more though, is the reveal of who White Mask is. It’s David… And if you didn’t see that coming from a mile away, then I’m concerned about your deductive skills. Here’s the deal, White Mask is introduced in the present day, and the only other character that is introduced (aside from Richard Sionis), is David. It’s clear the narrative is moving towards a reveal, but Tieri only set up one possible person, so there’s no suspense. And then to make it worse, after Selina discovers White Mask is David, she says something about it being impossible because he’s dead… but we don’t know that because we haven’t seen it. I feel like Tieri should’ve saved the reveal for the next issue, and taken time to show more of Selina’s past and David’s supposed death. This would actually allowed the reveal to actually have some suspense.
Dark Knight Ripoff. Look, I’m all for paying homage, but there’s a point where it starts to become less of an homage, and more of a rip off. This is one of those moments in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great plot device, but this screams the Joker in The Dark Knight.
- You like how Tieri writes Selina/ Catwoman.
- You enjoyed last month’s short story pertaining to Black Mask.
- A story focusing on Selina as a young adult entering the world of crime sounds like a good time.
Overall: Black Mask makes his return to Gotham, but he’s not the only Sionis that Selina is concerned with. Continuing to dive deeper into this rift between Catwoman and the Sionis family, Tieri delivers a lot of positives in this issue, but also, unfortunately, drops the ball on a few occasions.