This week, we take a deeper look into the Creel family as Selina goes head-to-head with them for the first time!
So far, I’ve been happy with Joelle Jones’ Catwoman. Three issues in, and we’re finally starting to see the story shape up. The narrative is a bit of a slow burn and as I mentioned last month, story structure isn’t the best at times, but this is a minor complaint in the grand scheme of things. If this is the biggest callout for a new writer, then there’s no need for real concern.
This chapter picks up where we left off – Selina meeting Mr. Creel. To touch on pacing and story structure one last time before moving on, this encounter – the first six pages of the issue – probably should’ve been included in Catwoman #2. It would have helped that issue read a little better, and given more time for a separate storyline in this issue. Regardless, we have what we have.
The scene itself between Selina and Creel is written quite well. We already know that Creel’s mother is despicable, but we get to see that the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree with her son. The Creel family runs the city – even the police – and if a wildcard like Catwoman is going to making her home here, they want to have control over her ins and outs. As you might expect, this notion doesn’t necessarily sit well with Selina.
Mr. Creel isn’t the only member of the Creel family that is featured in this issue either. His mother gets most of the spotlight as her history is explored. Aside from being creepy (remember her removing her face in Catwoman #1?), here we learn just how evil this woman is. In case you’re wondering, she’s freaking awful! Jones explores how Mrs. Creel came to gain her fortune, her first marriage, and her current relationship. The best way to describe the flashback is “disturbing.”
Mrs. Creel doesn’t come from a good home. She was adopted into a family during her teenage years, and desperate to have power and wealth on her own, she enacted a plan to take the family out of the equation. She started with her adopted sisters by poisoning them with antifreeze so they’d become sick and eventually die. During this time, she set up her adopted mother to receive a lot of attention for the girls’ illnesses, and eventually poisoned herself before blaming the mother for poisoning all of them.
When I first read this, I immediately thought of M. Night Shyamalan’s Sixth Sense, but also remembered recent news stories of a mother doing something similar here in the U.S. Whenever stories tie this closely to real life, it’s unsettling. The fact that someone could really do something like this is sick… Granted, the mother wasn’t really poisoning her girls in the book, but the fact that people wouldn’t necessarily question the idea says a lot about human nature. Mrs. Creel’s backstory becomes even worse when she then marries her adopted father, uses the marriage to create a scandal, then kills him, staging it as a suicide. This woman is twisted! And then in all of this, she tells this entire story as if it really was the mother who was poisoning her kids, and that the father/ her husband really did commit suicide.
Characterization continues to be one of the strongest aspects of this book. Jones makes an active decision to spend time with characters outside of their mission or threat. While this contributes to the slower pacing, it also allows us the chance to see how these characters think, operate, and where they are emotionally. This issue really digs into the Creels, and it only solidifies how evil and unsettling the family is. Carlos and his aunt continue to be some of my favorite characters despite their brief appearances. The two have such a strong, genuine care for others that it’s hard not to like them. And then there’s Detective Sam, who, yet again, is revealed to have another complex layer. He’s easily the character that I’m probably the most eager to learn more about because I have no clue where his alliance lies, what his belief is, or even if he can be considered a good guy. He’s probably the most complex character of the lot, and I hope Jones has a long-term plan for him!
The biggest reveal in this issue actually ties into Selina’s motivations for leaving Gotham. Yes, while she left Gotham because she walked out on Bruce and the engagement, there’s much more to it than that. She specifically came here for a reason, and that reason seems to be more important than her need to be away from Bruce. I don’t want to give anything away, but this single reveal makes Joelle Jones’ Catwoman exponentially more interesting!
That’s right! Selina’s sister, Maggie, has been brought back into continuity! Initially explored in 1991’s Catwoman: Her Sister’s Keeper – a spinoff from Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One – we learned that Selina had a sister who was a nun. More than a decade later, Ed Brubaker brought Maggie back in what remains to be the best Catwoman run ever! Now, it looks like Jones will continue where Brubaker left off, and I couldn’t be more excited! If you’ve never read Brubaker’s run on Catwoman, you need to! It’s a “must-read,” especially if this story is going to head in the direction that I expect it to!
The Art: Joelle Jones’ art continues to be the strongest aspect of this book, and is worth the cover price alone! The fact that she’s pulling double duty as both writer and artist allow her to add nuances that are often lost in translation between writer and artist. Jones captures so much through body language, and I love seeing the characters emote in the way they do. Laura Allred continues to nail the colors while Fernando Blanco and John Kalisz step in to offer respectable assistance in art for the flashback pages.
- You like characters who are morally ambiguous.
- You want to learn Selina’s real reason for leaving Gotham.
- You’re a fan of Ed Brubaker’s run of Catwoman
Overall: Joelle Jones continues to deliver a solid run on Catwoman even if the narrative is moving a little slower than I’d like. We have the foundation of an incredible story, and are treated to complex, morally ambiguous characters that have endless potential. This issue adds a new, exciting plot thread with the introduction of an old character that has me eager for future issues. Factor in Jones’ pencils and Allred’s colors on top of all of this, and you’re left with one hell of a book!
SCORE: 7.5/ 10