Catwoman #33 picks the pace right back up on a narrative front, effortlessly regaining its high stakes after two issues of backstory. That’s not to say the series ever dipped, but Ram V’s script does appear to know it’s time to ramp up again given the sheer amount of chaos in this month’s issue. Fernando Blanco’s presence is welcomed back too, no longer having to split art duties, and his work doesn’t miss a beat. While some developments are sudden, and Detective Hadley’s subplot is an amalgamation of cop tropes, Catwoman #33 effortlessly glides along with a final page that demands readers come back again next month.

Right from the start, the political upheaval the series integrates into the main narrative is on full display. While nothing about this new angle is egregious, it does cast an entirely new atmosphere on the series, making the book feel equal parts more timely and stunted by DC’s plans for “Future State”. Nevertheless, V has always done a great job of adhering to line-wide mandates while still maintaining the strengths of his series. Having said that, I have a feeling any mention of the Alleytown riots could be cut from the series and the rest of the story would still make sense. While it increases the scope of the book, Selina’s conflict with Father Valley operates largely independent of the political demonstrations. There’s a great page where Selina traverses rooftops while GCPD helicopters attempt to find her, but such endeavors are contained to a single page. Blanco does get to play with some iconic imagery on the page though, with searchlights casting their cones of piercing light through muggy nighttime skies, as Selina peeks from behind cover. Catwoman, as well as most of the characters within the “Bat Family”, are at their most endearing when the powers that be see them as a threat. The return to the more scrappy resilience of Selina is one of the main reasons the series has worked so well to this point.

Credit: Fernando Blanco, Jordie Bellaire, Tom Napolitano

Less effective are the scenes with Detective Hadley. While Blanco’s art delivers a great deal of texture and detail to his scenes stuck behind a desk, the dialogue and plotting is at its most cliche here. I love cop stories, but when Hadley storms out of the office telling the others that “the chief can write me up later” it’s hard to shake the familiarity of it all. Additionally, Hadley’s investigations are back to serving as summaries of information the reader’s have already learned via other means. We’ve known Father Valley is a dangerous hitman, so seeing Hadley discover this information isn’t the most engaging sequence.

Credit: Fernando Blanco, Jordie Bellaire, Tom Napolitano

Selina and the strays’ new hideout gains more focus here, now armed with an absurd amount of jury-rigged technology. Right when my mind thought about how they could have built this themselves, the Riddler takes credit, officially joining the team. His inclusion marks another shift in the scope of the series, but not as much as the next reveal.

Spoiler
The mysterious man in the trench coat that’s been helping Selina is revealed to be Basil Karlo, aka Clayface. However, he’s quickly joined by Killer Croc, Knockout, Firefly, and Cheshire, who offer their help to keep Alleytown free. Like with Nygma‘s inclusion, the political messaging becoming more overt, and the Clayface reveal, the inclusion of these characters signals a shift from the stripped down crime book the series started out as. If I have any complaint it’s that these new characters have no dialogue (Croc has one line on a later page) and their reveal poses are a little anemic. Only Cheshire, with her crossed legs, hand brushing her hair, and gaze not even looking toward Selina hints at any personality. The rest simply stand there in less than dynamic poses.

Artistic merits are still largely consistent throughout the book and the return to Blanco’s thick inks grounds the series despite its increasing scope. Jordie Bellaire’s colors are pleasing to the eye, giving rundown environments the appropriate grit, but making sure everyone’s clothes are nice and bright, giving dull environments a spark of life. Another highlight comes in a couple panels where Selina rides her motorcycle on route to a meeting with the backgrounds only being streaks of light, giving her movement a high degree of speed but also an otherworldliness. She and her newfound team of supervillains don’t always have to obey the laws of nature. Final thoughts are in the spoiler tag below, but just know that the final page will have most readers anxiously waiting for the next issue.

Credit: Fernando Blanco, Jordie Bellaire, Tom Napolitano

Spoiler
The final moments of the issue deliver some shock value, featuring a fiery showdown between Selina and Father Valley. The choreography of the fight is sound and the red backgrounds in each panel gives the sequence an edge not always seen in other fight scenes. It’s great fun to see Clayface and Killer Croc attempt to aid Selina in the fight, but their sudden inclusion in the series makes it that their appearance is largely there to hinder Valley. Seeing these villains band together to fight an even worse evil is ripe for drama, but there’s no real sense of payoff for these characters who barely joined the series a few pages beforehand. The real payoff lies in the final couple pages where Bruce arrives to rescue Selina from drowning. The composition of these pages mirrors those from Catwoman #14 (which V wrote during Jones’ run), where Selina also nearly drowned. It’s a nice call back for anyone paying attention, but the real interest lies with how Bruce and Selina will interact once reunited. It’s a great ending page.
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Recommended if…

  • You don’t mind more DC villains joining the series.
  • Fernando Blanco’s full return to art duties is a welcome sight.
  • The Future State plotlines being present don’t turn you away.

Overall

Catwoman #33 is a fast paced issue that will satisfy those who thought the last couple issues spent too much time looking backward. The quick pace is fine, but there is a sense that V’s script is making up for lost time as some twists and reveals come rapid fire. The expanding roster of Selina’s allies is exciting, but hopefully V spends some downtime with her growing army before diving head first into outright war with Future State’s Magistrate and Father Valley himself. However, most small nitpicks are largely forgotten by the time readers see the final page.

Score: 8.5/10


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