Every comic book character has a certain type of story that they fit best. This doesn’t mean that a character like Catwoman should forever be stuck in caper-style plotlines forever, but repeatedly forcing her into a gauntlet of villains to fight isn’t the best way to show what makes Selina a unique heroine. Catwoman #15 is not the first time Selina has found herself solving her problems with her fists in this series, demonstrating very little of her cunning, stealth, and subterfuge that makes for some of her better stories. It’s a disappointing follow up to a much more noir influenced previous issue, showing Ram V’s weaknesses as he writes himself into a corner, leaving brute strength as the only solution.

Let’s talk about the art first as many of my compliments and criticisms remain the same from last issue. Mirka Andolfo, with colorist Arif Prianto, make a very good-looking book, but the storytelling and panel compositions are often repetitive or extremely plain and flat. Andolfo relies on oblique panel layouts in her action sequences, a crutch that didn’t work for me last issue, but her figure work and movement is much better this time around. The art’s strengths are visible right from the start with a nice opening splash page which shows Selina bandage her wounds from the last issue. Selina then suits up once again to take the attack to her would be assassins. Despite the nice art, I’m not a fan of panel compositions where a large figure takes up one side of the page and overlaps into other panels. I’m especially not a fan of that same composition being used within two pages of each other, which happens when Catwoman faces Lock-Up, otherwise known as Lyle Bolton.

Credit: Mirka Andolfo, Arif Prianto, Saida Temofonte

The initial encounter between Catwoman and Lock-Up is underwhelming and not just because of the reused composition that I personally dislike. Lock-Up enters the underground room, taunts Catwoman, takes a couple steps to the side, tosses a few grenades, and escapes upward via a hidden elevator type contraption. Selina, of course, not only is able to survive the explosion, but climbs up the elevator contraption and is able to fight Lock-Up and his henchman outside. What exactly prevented Lock-Up from tossing in a few grenades from the door he entered, then closing it on Selina, which would allow her no way to exit the room? Lock-Up using a hidden elevator only serves to create an exit for Selina. Even if Selina survived the initial explosion, it’d be easy enough to toss in more grenades to finish her off. It’s a noticeably bad plan, especially from a character named Lock-Up, and the added theatrics of Lock-Up taking two steps to his left is not worth this strain in logic. It also just calls attention to the boring environment and the stiffness of the sequence. However, the explosion itself is well rendered and greatly enhanced by effective lettering by Saida Temofonte. Additionally, the way the panels shrink as Catwoman dodges the grenades on one page and how they then grow as she climbs up the elevator on another page is well done. Despite a few flashes of quality art, the dialogue between Lock-Up and Selina is also laden with exposition and suffers from a severe case of “telling, not showing” characterization. A bad start.

Credit: Mirka Andolfo, Arif Prianto, Saida Temofonte

Fortunately, the fight between Catwoman and Lock-Up that takes place upstairs is much more engaging. It’s only about a page long, but Andolfo’s paneling and sense of movement in her figure work is clean and effective. The punchy splashes of color that accompany key moments in the action also create a sense of weight and energy. We get a nice background of red streaks on white when Selina leaps off Lock-Up, and a more dramatic burst of yellow and orange as she strangles him with her whip. It’s fun, if not inventive, and it seems V and Andolfo’s action sequences work better the simpler they are. Lock-Up’s surprised expression as Catwoman’s whip tightens around his neck is a good touch as well.

Credit: Mirka Andolfo, Arif Prianto, Saida Temofonte

Having this book open with a fight sequence makes sense given how last issue ended, but V decides to have Selina continue to take a head-on approach in her attack. I have no problem with Selina being shown as an adept fighter, but I can’t help but feel as though this was the least interesting way for the plot to unfold. We have another adequate fight scene between Selina and a cyborg henchwoman. The same strengths apply to the art here as before with some nice movement and colors, but the fight choreography is very standard and does not show off any of Selina’s unique abilities such as her agility or stealth.

However, the biggest let down in this book is how Selina confronts the Villa Hermosa crime syndicate that put out a hit on her. After all this fighting and bloodshed it’s extremely disappointing for the book to tiptoe out of a more interesting confrontation. Selina is at her best when she belittles, tricks, and ultimately humiliates those who stand in her way. Having Selina beat up a multitude of henchmen does not deliver on what should have been a more satisfying confrontation between herself and the crime syndicate leaders. The entire issue feels like V wrote himself into a corner and didn’t have an interesting way to wrap the story up. There’s even a lack of style in how the scene plays out, especially with how awkward the panel looks when Selina crawls atop the table to speak.

Spoiler
Selina simply leaves the crime syndicate leaders with the promise of blackmailing them if they act out of line. What makes this even worse is that Selina’s confrontation with the last villain of the book plays out very similarly. Karen Rain, the woman who hired Selina to retrieve the file that could be used as blackmail, turns out to be False Face in disguise. After False Face fails to kill Selina, she lets False Face go as she wants people to know she is capable of mercy. While on paper, this is in character for Selina to do, it makes for a lack of a satisfying climax when Selina essentially lets every villain off with a warning and no true retribution. Nothing feels as though it has changed. The only true highlight of this ending is seeing Selina work with Gentleman Ghost who I desperately hope returns to the book at some point. Additionally, the book mostly glosses over Selina’s longing for Bruce and offers only a few lines showing that she misses him.

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Catwoman #15 fails to deliver on the promising set up of the previous issue. What was a twist filled, noir inspired opening issue has been followed up with a bland exercise in adequate fight sequences and a lack of ingenuity in plotting. While the art remains mostly solid, the writing does nothing to enhance an issue that appears hellbent on taking the most obvious path forward. It’s hard to recommend a book that feels as though it pulled every punch in fear of having any true consequence.

Recommended if…

  • You’re curious who is behind Selina’s assassination attempt.
  • You want more Gentleman Ghost in your life.
  • You think Mirka Andolfo’s art is worth cover price.

 Overall

Catwoman #15 is Ram V’s weakest issue in his tenure on the series. His previous issues have been inventive crime capers that lean more into Catwoman’s unique strengths as a character. However, this issue relegates itself to a series of fight sequences that lead up to a dull climax. Nothing seems to have really been accomplished in this two-part story. The plotting has twisted in upon itself in too many directions and styles that the ultimate result feels like a zero sum. There are worse comics on the stands, but Catwoman #15 struggles to both engage the reader with its story or sow the seeds for better things to come.

Score: 5/10


Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review