Catwoman #34 more than lives up to the high expectations last month’s cliffhanger set for it. Ram V’s script is excellently paced, mature in its approach to Selina’s relationship with Bruce, and features excellent action that is equal parts thrilling and clever. There’s been nary a misstep in this series and the momentum keeps rolling.
V’s script doesn’t waste time and jumps straight to Bruce and Selina’s reunion, skipping past what would have been a perfunctory rescue from Selina’s near drowning. I like the Batman/Catwoman relationship so this opening scene is definitely tuned toward my interests. Despite my self-awareness, I find it hard to make an argument against the craft of the scene and the script’s nuanced take on their dynamic. The opening panel is once again a stunning establishing shot, courtesy of Fernando Blanco, who always knows how to set the atmosphere. Jordie Bellaire’s colors also manage to delicately frame the entire sequence against a fiery, smokey orange sky without it being an eyesore due to the usage of subtle gradients. V’s script indulges in one moment of romantic fatalism when Selina asks Bruce whether or not they are “like kids building sandcastles too close to the waves.” However, the entire scene displays Batman and Catwoman’s love for each other without turning sappy, or self indulgent. There’s a subtle washed out look to Bellaire’s colors in a flashback between Batman and Detective Hadley where he tells Batman about Father Valley’s plan to kill Selina. It’s an effective technique that maintains the same color palette, while still making it feel like a flashback without resorting to the typical sepia filter many books rely on.
The best moments take place near the end of the reunion, where Selina makes it clear she must remain in Alleytown to fight back against Father Valley and the growing Magistrate threat. Batman and Catwoman casually put their gear and masks back on in a way that feels as though it’s mimicking a post-coital couple getting dressed. From the way an unmasked Bruce casually reaches into his pocket to how Selina zips up her suit, there’s a natural and relaxed intimacy in how the couple acts around each other. While Blanco has a great eye for action, he doesn’t slip in these quieter moments either.
Hadley’s role in the plot is much more engaging this time around as he does some solid detective work in figuring out why Valley blew up a church a couple issues ago. Blanco’s heavy lines lend themselves well to a scene featuring Hadley inspecting the ruins of a church, flashlight in hand. While some of Hadley’s scenes in previous issues felt a little exposition heavy, his scenes here are much more active and also revealing of his inner self. He has that great flashback scene with Batman where his feelings toward Selina are challenged by Bruce’s reappearance. It’s the most human Hadley has felt in the series yet, as Blanco draws him slightly defensive while still holding his own against Batman.
The majority of the issue deals with an incredibly engaging fight sequence between Selina and Father Valley. The series has been flirting with an all-out brawl between the two and it’s here where it finally delivers. Right from the start, Blanco opens the fight with a gorgeous two-page spread where he draws several action beats side by side, tracking their movement. The color palette of the environment is drained, leaving Selina and Valley’s figures to pop more on the page that almost looks black and white. Tom Napolitano’s lettered sound effects are well placed and their bright yellow/orange font gives a little more pop to the page. If there’s any nit pick with the spread it’s that it doesn’t end on a significant action beat, so when the page turn brings us to Hadley investigating the church, the transition feels a little awkward.
However, the last eight pages of the issue feature some fantastic twists that I wasn’t expecting in this standoff between Selina and Valley. Valley’s intricate plan of automated sniper rifles, secret prison chambers, and hidden bombs is a delight to watch unfold, even if it puts Selina through the wringer. The entire series, we’ve watched as Selina has outsmarted and outmaneuvered numerous crime bosses, so it’s quite the thrill to see the tables turned on her. And even though Valley’s plan is intricate, it isn’t so convoluted that it becomes silly. With a tragic cliffhanger, the issue ends incredibly strong on a visceral and emotional level.
- You’ve been dying to see Selina and Father Valley finally have an extended brawl.
- Seeing Bruce and Selina reunited is enough to get your interest.
- You want to read the best series DC is currently publishing. (Though if you’re new to the series, start from the beginning of the current run with #25)
Catwoman #34 is an absolute blast with equal parts heart and bombast. Seeing Father Valley finally turn the screws in on Selina is gripping to behold, and the reunion scene between Bruce and Selina doesn’t disappoint. The showdown with Father Valley is beautiful on an aesthetic level due to Fernando Blanco and Jordie Bellaire’s excellent work, but Ram V’s script serves up multiple twists and turns within the fight itself. Catwoman under the hands of the current creative team has never missed a step and Catwoman #34 is one of its best issues yet.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman-News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.