Thursday, November 27, 2014

Catwoman #36 Review

Written by: Genevieve Valentine
Art by: Garry Brown
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: November 26, 2014

A Crime Not to Read

In my review of last month's issue of Catwoman, I remarked that this book just didn't seem like my cup of tea and wondered out loud if this was the Catwoman that fans wanted.  Well, at the risk of dating this review, I guess I'll be eating my words for Thanksgiving this year because I really, really enjoyed what Genevieve Valentine is doing with Selina.  Sure, this book is not "fun" in the way I thought I wanted, but Valentine has quickly convinced me that Catwoman can and should be so much more.  In just two issues she has given fans such a strong and smart Selina that I can't see ever going back.

Genevieve Valentine has done such a great job of giving readers DC's best crime drama without sacrificing what Catwoman is all about.  Everything feels natural to the character and while the Crime Families of Gotham are the focus, this is still a Catwoman comic through and through.  Valentine nails Selina's voice as she tries to maneuver her way through Gotham's seedy underworld; making deals, figuring out who she can trust and trying to adjust to her new role.  I think that's what I enjoy most, being in Selina's head as she takes steps and missteps while learning on the job.  In the background of it all, we get a woman who wants to live up to her Father's huge reputation all while wanting to do right by her city.  Simply awesome.

This issue continues all of that, while throwing in some new twists and turns.  While Selina is busy stepping on toes with a meet-and-greet of all the Crime Families, the impostor Catwoman is taking the fight to the streets.  I was a little wary of this other Catwoman after last month's issue, but I fell in love with her this month.  It's a stroke of genius on Valentine's part including her because it's such a smart way to get the best of both worlds.

The bulk of the issue again deals with Selina laying the foundation for her rise to power.  Like any good story of this type, it involves double dealings, half truths and a lot of grey areas.  Who better than Selina to take advantage of every situation and walk that thin line?  Valentine does a great job of constantly reminding us that Selina is trying to do what's right, even as she gets her hands dirty.  Unfortunately, her actions are quickly making life dangerous for everyone around her.

While the nature of this story doesn't lead to a lot of action, it isn't devoid of it thanks to one major scene.  Selina comes face-to-face (and fist-to-face) with her copycat (pun intended).  Like I said earlier, I was a bit nervous as to the who and what of this other Catwoman, but after this issue I can assure you that's no longer the case.  We get an awesome fight between the two and when we learn who the impostor is, I had a huge smile on my face.  It makes so much sense and mirrors Selina's own situation to the point that I don't even consider her an impostor anymore.  I really hope Valentine keeps her in the role for a long time.

The book ends with a cliffhanger that is very personal to Selina, but is also of the "you reap what you sow" variety.  It involves a character that I'm not fully invested in and wonder if Valentine is going to twist it into something better than it seems right now. However it ends up, I am now totally into this new Catwoman and can't wait until next month.

After all that apologetic praise, I still have to admit that I'm not a huge fan of Garry Brown's art.  I think the gritty look fits the story well enough, it's just a bit too confusing at times.  I have had problems recognizing characters and had to reread bits to figure out what's going on.  Where the problem was most obvious in this issue is when the copycat is revealed.  If Selina didn't say her name, I still don't think I'd know her identity.  I'm hoping this problem is on my part and will right itself after more exposure, but I'll just have to wait and see.

Bits and Pieces:

After two issue, I have fallen in love with this new Catwoman.  Genevieve Valentine is giving fans such a strong Catwoman that what came before just seems silly now.  While I'm still struggling to get used to Garry Brown's art, this book is shooting to the top of my pile.  Anyone who is looking for a smart and mature crime story need look no further.  Catwoman fans rejoice.


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