Friday, January 30, 2015

Catwoman #38 Review

Written by: Genevieve Valentine
Art by: Garry Brown
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: January 28, 2015

We are Family

Catwoman has been a "not quite" character for quite some time.  Is she bad?  Not quite.  Is she a member of the Bat Family?  Not quite.  Is she a strong female character?  Not quite.  The last one is what pains me most.  With so much potential, she has been regulated to sexy window dressing whose big moment came on a rooftop with Batman.  That's no longer the case.  Genevieve Valentine is writing Catwoman as a smart crime boss with a razor sharp mind that is always two steps ahead.  Actually, that's a bit misleading because this is more a Selina Kyle book than anything else and I think that is a stroke of genius.  It puts the focus on the woman, not the character and Valentine is making the most of the attention.  It took me one issue and I was hooked.  Head over heels hooked and each issue makes me love this book and it's lead even more.  This month we continue learning on the job with our favorite ex-burglar and even get a cameo from a certain Gotham crime fighter.  Selina's hands may already be dirty, but things are getting downright messy.

The decision to have her cousin killed is having long term effects on Selina.  It messed up her family dynamic and this issue shows that it's messed up her mind even more.  The problem is, while she needed to do it to save face, it really hasn't benefited her in the long run.  When she gets involved in a sit down gone wrong, it's obvious that the families of Gotham are not united and that Selina isn't in the position she hoped to be to do Gotham some good.  However, it also shows how tough she is.  By giving us a front row seat to Selina's thoughts, we know she wants to do good.  By seeing her actions, we see she's capable of it.  It's a great one-two punch and really fleshes out the character.

The Families may not be a unified front, but that doesn't stop Selina from putting her plan into action.  Again, she has to do some things she isn't proud of, but it's all for the good of Gotham.  At least that's what she is selling to herself and the reader.  By the end of this issue, she has to sell it to the Dark Knight as well.  When Batman shows up it's an awesome bit of fighting and flirting that ends with Selina almost begging Batman to believe in her.  When he doesn't, Selina acts like she never thought he would, but it feels like another chink in Selina's armor.

The issue continues with more Crime Family action.  Black Mask is making a strong push to lead Gotham's Underworld while also taking care of Selina.  He's not alone and I'm not just talking about those talking directly to him.  It seems like one of Gotham's big players is back and is keeping tabs on everyone.  I hope he gets his way because I want to see him and Selina duke it out directly. The issue ends with Selina getting some surprise help from someone who suddenly feels like family.

I enjoyed this issue though it was mainly setup and while it makes sense that Batman would show up, it felt a little too forced.  Valentine does such a great job with Selina's inner monologues and the mystery and suspense that this sort of crime drama is best known for.  I continue hearing grumblings about the lack of strong female characters in comics, but anyone searching for such a thing, need not look further.

I like Garry Brown's gritty art for this book.  It really stresses the dirty nature of the business going on and his pencil heavy style gives it the darkness it needs.  However, it also tends to be a bit confusing, often making me think a character is someone completely different.

Bits and Pieces:

If you have enjoyed watching Selina Kyle's rise through the criminal ranks, you will like this issue.  Her plan is in motion and she continues being a couple steps ahead of everyone.  Unfortunately, that is also what's causing her problems.  She already has a lot to answer to and if the events of this issue play out like they appear they will, she's about to get even more competition for Crime Lord of Gotham.  Recommended.


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