Catwoman #37 deftly manages to raise tensions across separate plot threads that culminate in a satisfying conclusion for Alleytown’s scrappy defense against Fear State and the Magistrate threat. Ram V’s script wisely chooses to keep most elements of his main narrative and intertwine them with this event tie-in arc. This helps smooth over the lack of Fernando Blanco on art and makes the issue feel relevant to long-time readers.
There are three credited artists in this issue which is usually a major red flag for a normal sized issue, but Nina Vakueva’s work remains the clear leader in precision and consistency in maintaining a similar aesthetic as series regular Blanco. Their figure work can be a little stiff, but page layouts never struggle with cluttered compositions and the sense of space is always clear. Also of note is a general improvement on Laura Braga’s pages as the scenes they are tasked to draw lean into her strengths. A romantic kiss between Harley and Poison Ivy fits Braga’s bold inks and energetic “acting” style much more than complex action sequences. However, even the action sequences this time are less muddled even if their choreography leaves much to be desired.
There is a bit of whiplash in the different art styles, but Jordie Bellaire’s colors manage to largely keep the aesthetic consistent, even if Braga’s pages are noticeably more glossy. Fiery shades of orange and red fill the entire issue, from Alleytown’s smoke filled skies, Firefly’s flamethrower, down to Clayface’s dominating rampage in a dockside action sequence. A great colorist is a huge aid to a book that can quickly fall apart under the direction of several different pencilers and inkers.
V’s script does trap Selina in a bit of a holding pattern as she, Harley Quinn, and the Gardener are largely confined to an extended fight against various Wight Witch clones. The action here isn’t all that inventive and ultimately amounts to a lot of punches and kicks without really utilizing the uniqueness of the characters. Selina is at her best when her deceptions allow her to win the day without throwing more than a single punch, but here her own plan relegates her into a “muscle” role. The fun side of the issue deals with one of the “Strays”, Billy, who drives “Poison Ivy” to the docks in order to sneak her out of the city. There’s much more excitement and twists with this plotline than there is with the all out brawl Selina finds herself in. (Yes I know this is all Selina’s plan, but she gives the more interesting stuff to her underlings). The artwork also gets to be more dynamic between racing trucks, armed helicopters, bazookas and mini guns all converging into what turns out to be a set up. I particularly like the panel layouts which tilt at oblique angles and often break apart and spill over each other, which enhances the chaotic nature of the sequence.
While I am a little disappointed at Selina’s usage in the issue, the decision to focus on her allies does pay off in certain aspects as we get to see the family she’s created in action. This of course means that her temporary alliance with Riddler comes to its conclusion as last month’s issue set up Nygma and Penguin’s attempt to steal Poison Ivy and gain control of Alleytown. I did enjoy Selina’s partnership with Riddler, but it’s fun to see Selina anticipate this deception and turn the tables on her would-be traitorous allies. I also love how Selina is drawn as she reveals she’s been a step ahead of everyone, with her eyes blacked out, making her impossible to read beyond her slight smile. Everything in this sequence is what makes a Catwoman book tick between the double crosses, explosive crime action, and its sense of humor.
Where the issue almost falls flat is in the final action sequence against the Wight Witch clones. There’s no real twist in how that problem is resolved besides an appearance from a “surprise” guest character. I won’t spoil who it is, but I can’t imagine anyone will be all that excited with this issue’s cameo appearance. Upon arriving, the character doesn’t even say a single line of dialogue, making their appearance feel even more unnatural and all together, unsatisfying.
However, the final pages of the issue are extremely well written as Selina narrates and wraps up her time in Alleytown. It’s sad to see this series wind down as it’s been one of the more promising Catwoman runs to develop in a while, but the conclusion here makes it feel significant. There are definitely aspects of V’s main themes that have been done before, but rarely done with such elegance and subtlety. There’s even a little “Bat/Cat” action for those invested in that dynamic. Nonetheless, once the issue ends with a traditional “cast shot” where almost all the characters pose together as a goodbye to readers, there’s both a sense of happiness and a tinge of disappointment that our time with them is nearly at an end.
- A team of three different artists doesn’t scare you away.
- You’ve been reading V’s Catwoman all along and want to see it near its conclusion.
- Its (somewhat loose) connection to Fear State is acceptable, even if this arc largely avoided feeling like filler for an event.
Catwoman #37 is a must-read for any reader of the regular series as it wraps up its Fear State arc, but also sets the stage for a final goodbye to Selina’s time in Alleytown. There’s a sense of finality in this issue, but V and Blanco have one more issue together before its time to fully say farewell. Fans of Fear State and the Catwoman series will both be equally satisfied by what’s on display here.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.