THIS WEEK: Things just kind of suck all around for Catwoman in Catwoman:One Bad Day and Catwoman #51.
Note: the reviews below contain spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdicts.
Writer: Tini Howrd
Artist: Sami Basri
Colorist: Vicente Cifuentes
Letterers: Veronica Gandini
Cover: David Nakayama
Catwoman has consistently been one of the best books that DC has been putting out for well over a year. The Ram V run was incredible and did a ton of world-building. But the book has been taken to a whole new level since Tini Howard took over the writing duties. She’s taken from what Ram V built and has expanded and enriched it. She’s given Selina something that she’s desperately needed: a rich and vibrant supporting cast beyond just the Bat-family.
And this fleshing out of a supporting cast for Selina has allowed Howard to pull the rug out from both the readers and her main character. Catwoman #50 had the shocking twist where Catwoman while fighting Punchline for control over Alleytown, killed her vigilante partner and lover Valmont. Selina Kyle, not Catwoman, ended that issue by being arrested for murder, and the entire status quo of the book was thrown upside down.
While Selina has to deal with being inside Gotham County Jail once again, this time for murder rather than theft, we still get some focus on what is going on outside those walls with the self-christened Tomcat (Dario Tomasso) and a new Catwoman. Eiko Haisgawa has temporarily taken the Catwoman mantle so that Selina’s secret identity can remain intact. Their role in this month’s story is small, but showing that both are still operating for Selina is a nice touch.
The meat of the issue, though, is Selina’s life in the pen. She’s setting herself up to not be the low woman in the pecking order but to do that she needs something to offer the other inmates. It’s here where Sami Basri’s art really shines. Selina looks absolutely exhausted, the bags under her eyes speaking volumes, as do the red-tinted flashback sequences. While Selina is successfully making her day-to-day life in the pen easier, she’s still miserable carrying the guilt of the death she caused. There has to be something more at play here, and I’m excited to see what it is.
Batman: Catwoman: One Bad Day #1
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Jamie McKelvie
Letterers: Clayton Cowles
Cover: Jamie McKelvie
The One Bad Day series has been hit or miss for me. Some, like Two-Face and Penguin have been enjoyable and fun, others, like Bane and Riddler I’ve found to be lackluster and a bit disappointing. But Catwoman: One Bad Day is the one I’ve been most anticipating. Jamie McKelvie has been one of my favorite artists for years, predominately for his work on The Wicked + the Divine. G. Willow Wilson has written one of my favorite series of the last decade with The Dreaming: Waking Hours and immediately went from that into the stellar Poison Ivy book. This is a creative team that I trust implicitly, and my trust was not misplaced.
Catwoman: One Bad Day is a deeply personal, deeply tragic story for Selina Kyle, shining a light on tragedies from her youth and how they shaped her to be the woman she is today. As someone who grew up just scraping by, the bits we see of Selina’s past really resonated for me. A single mother doing every little thing she can to put food on the table for her kids hit me close to home, and so did the feeling of not trusting what you have once you get out of those tough spots.
And while the story was poignant and wrenching, it couldn’t have had nearly the impact without McKelvie’s art. The opening page is a set piece, showing the reader Selina’s cat-filled apartment, her tools, and her research before going to a full-page splash reveal of the woman herself, and the first time (but not the last) I audibly gasped at the beauty of McKelvie’s work in the issue. The first reveal of Selina in the issue isn’t of her in costume, it isn’t her as a femme fatale, it’s her lounging on an armchair, petting one of her many cats. But McKelvie somehow makes Selina sexier in a hoodie and sweatpants than a lot of artists manage to do of her in her sleek catsuit. From the twinkle in her mischievous eyes to the “gonna eat you for dinner” smirk on her face, McKelvie immediately sets the tone for the book.
Throughout the issue, this portrayal of Catwoman is equal parts sassy and tortured, all while looking drop-dead gorgeous. McKelvie gets three large-scale reveals in the issue and delivers on all of them. Beyond that first reveal of Selina in casual clothing, he does two 3/4 page reveals later in the issue. The first is our first glimpse of her in costume, playfully snapping on her gloves. It’s worth noting, that despite his accomplished chops as a costume designer, McKelvie stuck with the current Catwoman costume with the under-arm cutouts. This is probably the issue’s only disappointment for me. Don’t get me wrong, McKelvie makes the current suit look incredible, but I really would have liked to see what his take on a Catwoman suit would be.
The last big reveal in the issue is Selina in formal wear while attending a jewelry auction, and hoo-boy, what a reveal. McKelvie is fantastic at drawing characters in glamourous settings, as he so often did during The Wicked + The Divine, and his vision of Selina in formal wear is elegant in it’s simplicity. It’s a very standard black gown, but what makes it shine is how the dress allows McKelvie to highlight Selina’s athletic build. From her well-toned arms to the legs that look like they could crush watermelons, McKelvie’s Selina is built.
Beyond those reveals though, McKelvie also shines at punctuating Wilson’s emotional story. The emotional beats of the book work because McKelvie is one of the best in the business at face acting, and making you feel what characters are feeling. This is an absolute all-star pairing for this comic, and I’d be doing it a disservice to reveal anything beyond the broad strokes rather than just telling you to go buy it.
- Action Comics #1051 kicks off the new status quo for the Superman books with the new anthology format for the lead book. The front story by Philip Kennedy Johnson and Rafa Sandoval is a ton of fun and sets the stage for what’s coming in the book. Most of all though, that story brings back a piece of the 1990s Superman books that’s been missing in recent years, and that’s just how madly in lust Lois and Clark are for each other. I cackled at the revelation that Lois asked Clark to keep his Warworld gear for other purposes. The other two stories in the book are also fantastic, particularly the continuation of Leah Williams and Marguerite Sauvage’s Power Girl and Omen storyline. This story is just so beautiful and dreamily illustrated, it’s been a delight reading the first two chapters.
- It’s the penultimate issue of The Human Target, so that means the big reveal that Tom King didn’t really set up like he thought he did. The reveal in this book is a little better than most of his penultimate issue reveals, but once again it’s doing a complete disservice to the characters that he’s deciding to use. I’d probably actually like this comic if it didn’t absolutely butcher some DC characters to make itself work.
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