We’re in a transition phase with the current Catwoman series now that Joelle Jones has completed her nearly two year run, which means it’s now time for some filler issues! The truth is, sometimes these one-shots are more exciting than a longer run ever ends up being, but Catwoman #22 doesn’t take full advantage of its freedom to run wild. The art by Aneke with colors by Laura Allred has fun with the schlock at hand, but the script by Paula Sevenbergen does nothing more than take a surface level glance at Selina’s interior complexity.
Sexy maids are on the loose and robbing rich people under the guise of a cleaning/escort service and apparently only Selina can stop them. A cop, Detective Hadley, asks Selina for her help as her skillset matches these skimpily dressed vixens, and the script wastes no time as she tracks them down by the second page. Sevenbergen and Aneke establish the near smutty vibe of the issue immediately. Selina plays “peeping tomcat” when she sees one of the maids seducing her target with her eye on the valuable artifact just beside them. There’s a whole page dedicated to this scenario, which is partially set in darkness, but bright enough to see the maid’s skimpy outfit in full view as she straddles her target. This is immediately followed up by a panel where Selina sneakily crawls along the floor in a pose I’m not entirely sure is anatomically possible and purely there for titillation. You’ll know if this issue is for you by this point. If you’re still on the fence, Selina then jumps out a window in a panel solely focused on her rear end. Your mileage may vary.
Joelle Jones’ run, and especially her art, did a great job of capturing Selina’s alluring appeal without venturing into “cheesecake” territory. There’s room for both of these artistic point of views, but it’s important to note that this issue is a departure from the previously established norm. Having said that, Aneke’s art is well done and immensely aided by Laura Allred’s colors. Allred is one of the best colorists in the business so the aesthetic works. It’s light and fun and easily sells some of the more ridiculous plot points. The first maid escapes by leaving behind an oil slick where Selina lands in pursuit. It’s silly, but Aneke’s great figure poses and facial acting sells the moment handily, allowing the book to indulge in such flights of fancy. The strength in the art lies more in these moments, not in the panels that seem more suited for a pin-up catalogue.
I don’t necessarily buy that Selina would be bested by a small amount of slippery liquid on the ground, but Sevenbergen’s script relies on this type of simplicity to keep a fast pace. Unfortunately, there are no real surprises in store in the plot itself. The introduction of Detective Hadley feels forced and too obvious a set up for a later reveal. Additionally, Selina’s dynamic with Hadley never really sparks off the page and his hipster aesthetic, mixed with his cavalier attitude toward Selina makes her come across as too much of a patsy. The dialogue isn’t Sevenbergen’s strong suit here. Armed with an abundance of cat based humor, Selina’s quips often feel forced and are rarely funny. At one point Selina calls one of the maids “Bust Dummy”, in reference to their self-proclaimed titles of “Dust Bunny”. It never gets much more clever than that. There is one fun wrinkle introduced when the Dust Bunnies attempt to recruit Selina to their cause, but things quickly degrade into fisticuffs.
The action here is effective due to Aneke’s strong figure work and unique page layouts that flirt with flying off the rails but manage to remain concise. There’s a strong page where the action descends down the page and ping pongs from side to side in a series of floating figures and minimal panels. The art easily leads your eye down the page and the impact of the blows are sold even without lettered sound effects due to the strong poses and subtle motion lines. As it nears its conclusion, the issue makes a few attempts at a deeper theme about how the Dust Bunnies are not so different from Catwoman since they both came from nothing and steal from the rich and corrupt. Unfortunately, the script doesn’t offer much beyond Selina’s comments about her ethics and skillset being different from the Dust Bunnies and a not so subtle visual moment that shows Selina literally looking back on her past. Any sense of moral vagueness is welcome in a Catwoman tale, but this issue doesn’t do much to truly challenge or reveal anything new about Selina herself. As it stands, the book is a fun, if slight, piece of escapism.
- Sexy maids and anatomically suspect Catwoman poses are your thing.
- Aneke and Laura Allred’s fun and colorful art catches your eye.
- You don’t mind some surface level investigation into Selina’s morals.
Catwoman #22 is a fun, if almost immediately forgettable jaunt that relies on titillating art and a simplistic narrative to carry your attention. It’s always fun to get a one-shot tale of Selina performing a heist or stopping some sort of wrong, but the moral vagueness here never adds up to anything compelling. This has all been done before, but watching Catwoman battle skimpily dressed maids will find a willing audience due to the sheer kitsch of it all.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.