Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Catwoman #40 Review



Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Nico Leon
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: February 22, 2022

I enjoyed the first issue of Tini Howard's new Catwoman run.  She tapped into Genevieve Valentine's Catwoman, which I loved, and has Selina going against some of Gotham's more seedy characters.  The funny thing is that using Valentine's run as a significant backdrop to this story feels like a reset of what happened after it, namely Tom King's Bat/Cat stuff.  I'm not saying it erases it, because it doesn't, just that Selina feels like she has woken up from a long sleep and is dangerous again.  Whether that ends up being a good or a bad thing remains to be seen, but let's dive into Catwoman #40 and see how Tini Howard's second issue plays out.

Catwoman #40 picks up with Selina narrating how she is different from Gotham's other vigilantes.  Again, I like this separation of Catwoman from Batman (at least for now).  Even though Joelle Jones and Ram V did the same, theirs felt like Selina trying to get over Batman, allowing Howard to make this feel like she finally has.

Now, I am not a fan of overly-narrated comics, and this veers dangerously close to being one.  Catwoman books tend to go in that direction because they have to, but Howard's narration doesn't feel quite right yet.  It's an overall voice thing, actually, and I expect it to improve as Howard settles in, but right now, the narration slows down the pacing of the story.  Nico Leon's art is outstanding and fits the story well, with lots of static-type pages that help the narration by giving it a great-looking backdrop.

So, what happens in the issue.  Well, Selina finds out that if you mess with bad guys and gals, they tend to mess with you.  So, Kristi, the stripper who kicked Black Mask in the chops the last issue, is dead, and Catwoman wants revenge... kind of.  The reader has no connection to Kristi, and while Selina tells us she is pissed, the overall feel of it falls flat.  Because of that, Kristi is a plot device and nothing more.

The real story here deals with the Tomasso Crime Family and the Don's only son, Dario.  Howard sets up an agreement between the two and does a good job of making Dario a bit sympathetic, and I hope the legwork here pays off.  I liked it, although, I will admit, the scenes with Selina and Dario were a bit confusing at times, especially when the two are separated but in contact with each other.  We then get a big action scene that felt slightly over the top for Selina but allowed colorist Jordie Bellaire to shine and push the plot forward.

The odd pacing continues as we go from the twists and turns of the Tomasso Crime Family to the mysterious Valmont.  Suddenly, the book becomes fun and full of energy as Selina and Valmont test each other in a way that feels both playful and dangerous.  Whether this mysterious character is good or bad for Selina is determined, but I like that they are in that grey area that Catwoman is part of.

Things do go south, and after an odd Heart of Hush flashback, the issue ends on a cliffhanger that shows Valmont doesn't have as many lines in the sand as Selina, and that may cause some big problems coming up.

I liked this issue for the most part.  After two issues, I am still trying to grasp Howard's pacing and voice, but as I said above, I like this more dangerous feeling Catwoman.  Still, some of the progressions felt rushed and didn't allow what was going on to make an impact.

Make sure to listen to our Weekly DC Comics Recap and Review Podcast to hear us talk more about this book.  Just look up "Weird Science DC Comics" anywhere you listen to podcasts, and make sure to rate, review, and subscribe!

Bits and Pieces:

Catwoman #40 is a good issue hampered by confusing moments and odd pacing.  I like what Tini Howard is doing with Selina and expect it to improve as she settles into the book and character more.       


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