Catwoman #38 is a disappointment on almost every level. It pains me to write this, but Ram V’s Catwoman run sputters out in its endgame, leaving the door open for the next creative team without much lingering after effects to better shape the character. What should read like a victory lap, comes across as a dull recap, which is heightened by the appearance of a guest artist instead of series regular Fernando Blanco.
Right from the start I was shocked to see Caspar Wijngaard as the credited artist. The shift in art style is drastic, particularly in the way Wijngaard colors his own work. Gone are the noir inspired shadows and stark compositions, instead replaced by a neon sheen and buoyant energy that doesn’t fit the story V and Blanco had been telling all along. With Blanco and Jordie Bellaire’s aesthetic, the long interrogation scene that makes up the majority of the issue would likely have more drama and intrigue. Under Wijngaard’s hand, there’s no threat of mystery or intrigue as both the environments and characters are beautifully rendered in bright colors and crisp line work. Additionally, I don’t like how each character is outlined in white, further putting the characters front and center when more deception would be suitable. Maybe I just miss Blanco’s art, but this choice is almost entirely wrong. Nonetheless, Wijngaard’s art is pretty and has strong facial acting, which ensures this dialogue driven exchange has the appropriate emotional beats; there’s just no drama or theater to the sequence.
The majority of the issue is an interrogation between Selina, Detective Kollak and Detective Rigs, with a few flashbacks thrown in to depict their conversation topics. It’s not a bad premise for a finale issue and it’s a clever way to pack in a lot of information without it feeling too much like a cliff notes session. There are some new scenes depicted such as Hadley’s funeral where Selina has a run in with Father Valley. Their exchange is a highlight of the issue, but the lack of resolution with Valley feels forced by the sudden end of V’s run, rather than an earned “ending” for the character. There is an interesting comparison between the two characters, particularly when Valley seeks penance for killing an “innocent” Hadley. It’s only a shame that there isn’t more time to fully bring closure between the two adversaries.
Less effective are the pages that essentially recap the previous issues, such as when V’s script revisits Selina and Ghostmaker’s brawl against the several Wight Witch clones. There is some new info given when Ghostmaker recognizes Wight Witch without her mask, but their dynamic never played a part in the actual Catwoman series. It would’ve been nice for Wight Witch to have been explored more within the series, but having a few pages focus on two characters that were largely inconsequential feels misguided. Where there is a little excitement is when V’s script has Selina start to pin all of the crimes she’s committed on Ghostmaker, Riddler, Firefly, and the other villains involved in the defense of Alleytown. While it largely functions as a way to clear Selina of all wrongdoing so she can move forward with the new creative team, there is at least a glimmer of Selina’s cunning ability to wriggle out of any dire situation.
I understand the attempt to examine Selina from an outsider point of view. By the end of the issue Detective Rigs ends up taking over as the main narrator and rattles off a few lines about the nature of Alleytown and how it’s still home to people despite it being filled with con men and thieves. Selina has left Alleytown in the hands of her strays and trusts them to help rebuild and lift those up who need help. It’s overall a nice conclusion to Selina’s time in Alleytown, but I find it to be a little too clean and easy despite the sheer amount of destruction Selina (inadvertently or not) brought upon the city. There’s one major complaint in how Selina pulls off her escape but it’s spoiler territory.
- You’ve collected all of Ram V’s Catwoman run and want to complete it.
- Caspar Wijngaard is a favorite artist of yours.
- You’re keyed into every DC book and want to get every piece of Ghostmaker and Wight Witch character development.
Catwoman #38 is a disappointing end for Ram V’s run on the character. Fernando Blanco is missed and while Caspar Wijngaard is a talented artist, their work does not fit the series and is barely suitable for this final issue. V’s script does a good job tying up loose ends and setting the stage for the next creative team to take over, but I wish this issue had more to offer. For those who have read every issue of V’s run so far, this is still recommended as it does offer some closure, but everyone else is better off waiting till next month for a new story to begin.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.