Future State: Catwoman #2 solidifies this two part story as my favorite of the entire Future State line. Otto Schmidt’s art remains immaculate, Ram V’s script is well paced, and there’s a sense of closure while remaining open ended if this storyline is ever to be picked up again. All in all, Future State: Catwoman serves as a great example of how to pack in a fulfilling story in only two issues, while simultaneously adhering to a new status quo.

Many of my compliments from last month carry over into this issue. I love how V starts his scripts, with a striking opening page, limited dialogue, while giving his artist the room to establish the appropriate mood. What’s even more clever is how V’s script lets the reader’s imagination fill in some gaps in order to save time. The opening pages depict a lot of aftermath from fight sequences we don’t see, but still gives enough of an idea of what went down. V establishes the stakes quickly, particularly with Selina’s first page, littered with unconscious guards and bathed in red emergency lights. Another clever touch comes courtesy of Schmidt as he uses negative space in a panel where Selina falls out of frame to show her dire physical condition. The book is full of thoughtful storytelling such as this, negating the need for constant action while still maintaining tension.

Credit: Otto Schmidt, Tom Napolitano

If there’s any flaw to the plotting it’s that V doesn’t have the opportunity for many clever hijinks that fully utilize Selina’s skill set. She’s already aboard the train and most of her direct involvement comes in the form of brute force as she takes down even more guards. The best moment comes when Selina willingly takes on a large electromagnetic shockwave in order to free herself from being locked in one of the train cars. The constant push and pull of whether Selina is truly heroic is a staple of her character, and this moment gives a taste of her willingness to put herself in harms way for the greater good. Other than that, most of the intricate plot maneuvering takes place outside of the train itself, as Selina’s “strays” prepare their escape route. There’s more exposition than normal in these moments, and the book definitely slows down a bit in its last few pages or so, but it’s a small price to pay for what otherwise is a gripping script.

Credit: Otto Schmidt, Tom Napolitano

Otto Schmidt’s art carries its weight yet again and delivers stunning action full of movement and impact. Schmidt’s better moments come when Bruce and Talia team up and take out several guards “non lethally” at Bruce’s behest. There’s a grittiness to Schmidt’s pencils, and his facial expressions lend an immense amount of character even to the otherwise nondescript goons our heroes take down. One moment that stood out as weak is when Onomatopoeia and Selina slowly succumb to the knockout gas slowly filling their train car. Both characters sit slumped up against the wall, the background noticeably lacking detail, in one of the weaker panels. I’d like a more dynamic image, even when characters are slowly taken down by gas, but this is a nitpick since the art is largely stellar. Schmidt’s colors do find themselves somewhat restricted by the overwhelmingly dominant red security lights. The majority of pages are bathed in red, which feels a little domineering, but does enable the book to open up its palette once Selina frees herself from her temporary prison.

Credit: Otto Schmidt, Tom Napolitano

I’d also like to take a moment to compliment Tom Napolitano’s letters, which take on many different obstacles throughout the book. When Selina falls off panel, her dialogue bubble turns squiggly and some red slips inside. Selina’s narration boxes look great too, with a sketchy purple outline that doesn’t fully surround the black box itself. It makes Selina and her crew feel like scrappy underdogs, especially when contrasted to the Magistrate’s high-tech and militarized leanings. The lettered sound effects also come off well, even on the pages where red and orange dominate the palette, with evocative fonts that fit the action. I particularly like a big “DOOM” that accompanies a blow to a guard’s helmet.

Credit: Otto Schmidt, Tom Napolitano

Slight spoilers ahead for anyone who doesn’t want a vague idea of where the story heads (even if it seems inevitable). The big reunion between Selina and Bruce is pitch perfect in every way. Their brief back and forth packs a punch, and even delivers some comedy in the form of them picking on each other’s chosen sidekicks – Onomatopoeia and Talia. What really nails their relationship though is V’s choice to separate them and the accompanying visual of their two train cars detaching and moving away from each other. It’s a wonderfully romantic moment and it makes me realize that their relationship is at its best when it feels as though the world, not their feelings for each other, is what keeps them apart. I’m a “Bat/Cat” fan, but it’s hard to argue against the appeal of a dramatic, yet doomed romance. Unfortunately, the last two pages feel just a little bit rushed, and even the final panel doesn’t quite hit the mark. Seeing “BATMAN LIVES” and a fiery bat symbol should pack much more of a punch, but here it’s relegated to a small panel at the bottom of a page. It doesn’t help that there’s a large explosion at the top of the page that draws most of the attention. Nonetheless, this finale feels complete and perfectly balances the want for closure, yet the need to leave things open ended.

Recommended if…

  • You’re a “Bat/Cat” fan and want the opportunity to see Selina and Bruce interact in “Future State”.
  • Ram V’s Catwoman is on your pull list since this “Future State” storyline continues various threads from that run.
  • You want to get the best glimpse of a potential future for DC Comics.

Overall

Future State: Catwoman #2 signals Ram V as one of the best writers at DC right now. V’s scripts are purposeful, exciting, and even a little romantic when they need to be. It doesn’t hurt to have Otto Schmidt on art duties either as he turns in expressive and dynamic work on a consistent basis. Even with only two issues, V and Schmidt turn in a fully fledged story, with twists and turns, that doesn’t let itself get bogged down in pages of exposition due to the changes that came with “Future State”. I don’t know if this future will ever come to pass, but DC could do far worse than picking up where V left off with this story arc.

Score: 9/10


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