THIS WEEK: The wait is over and Cliff Chiang’s Catwoman – Lonely City #2 has arrived, and it continues the excellence from the first issue.
Note: This piece contains 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.
Written, drawn, colored, and lettered: Cliff Chiang
I’ll be straightforward here — Catwoman – Lonely City is my favorite Big 2 comic of 2021. I had a chance to heap praise on the first issue during a roundtable chat with the rest of the writers here who make up our DC Comics team, and so I’ll avoid heaping (too much of) the same praise on the book. In summation, with this series Cliff Chiang is delivering an auteur’s vision for what feels like Catwoman’s equivalent of The Dark Knight Returns, and he’s doing it with an incredible amount of charm, vision, and finely-honed comics storytelling chops.
While much of the first issue was (unsurprisingly and necessarily) spent establishing the backstory that led us here as well as the lead character’s current priorities and status quo, Catwoman – Lonely City #2 is able to luxuriate a bit more in the world and plot, like Selina Kyle enjoying the fruits of a well-executed and lucrative heist. What that means most clearly is the book has a chance to play more with other members of Batman’s rogue gallery, or at least with the versions we see of them in this somewhat-near future for Gotham.
The issue opens with a flashback to a decade ago, to Fool’s Night, a Joker attack that ultimately led to the death of Batman and the imprisonment of Selina Kyle. This is the foundational event for this timeline, one that was alluded to quite a bit in the first issue. But now we get to see more of it, something I expect to continue happening in the forthcoming final two issues. Joker fatigue is real, but Chiang’s artwork and writing are so well-done and lively, that Joker fatigue is out the window when you get to see a talent like Chiang tackle the character.
What we get in this flashback essentially feels like it could have been a bygone Batman event, or maybe a forthcoming Batman event that we just haven’t seen yet. It’s all very well-realized and consequential, playing with familiar Batman event tropes. There’s a panel early on when the Bat-family descends to stop the Joker’s chaos that will have long-time readers of Batman comics nodding with the structured feeling of fulfilled expectations. It all speaks to something that both the first and second issue of this series have done so well: using established Batman tropes in unexpected ways to create an entirely new and engaging reading experience, updated through a lens of 2021, both in terms of sensibilities and in the way they build on now-classic Batman comics of the past.
The other quality that continues to make this book the best in all of Big 2 comics is the heavy focus on Selina’s relationships with the other familiar characters that make up the world. We got a taste of this certainly in the first issue, but it’s more vital to the proceedings within Catwoman – Lonely City #2. Indeed, the best scenes in this book are those in which Selina is catching up over coffee with Batgirl, or going through a training montage with Killer Croc, whose portrayal in this comic is the best use of the character that I’ve ever seen.
As I said at the start of this review, I could just heap praise after praise after praise on this series. I absolutely love it, and it’s the must-read DC comic of 2021. I will, however, start to wrap things up by noting that I think none of it would work (or not nearly as well, anyway) without the culture and style with which Chiang imbues the city. It’s evident in small moments and never overwrought, but it’s foundational to what this comic is doing, to its themes and to its tone. There’s a panel early on wherein two customers at Selina’s good friends’ store browed ’89 Batforce 1’s, retro sneakers that are apparently in high demand, much the way throwback Jordan’s remain in our real world. This is a small touch, but dozens of similar touches add to the long list of qualities that make this book truly special.
To sum it up, Catwoman – Lonely City #2 rules as hard as Catwoman – Lonely City #1, doubling down on the qualities that made that book so good now that most of the exposition-doling duties are out of the way. Do yourself a favor and savor every moment of these 50-plus pages of comics goodness.
Verdict: Buy It
- Batman – One Dark Knight #1 hit this week, and I for one am enjoying DC Comics’ commitment to introducing one new out-of-continuity Batman Black Label story from a top tier creator. This one is from Jock, and it’s a very good read…much like Batman – The Imposter (which featured superstar artist Andrea Sorrentino) and the aforementioned Catwoman – Lonely City. Just keep these coming, I say, and the good news is there is no end in site. Next year will see writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Carmine Di Giandomenico collaborating on Batman – The Knight #1, as well as writer Tom King and artist David Marquez rolling out the heist comic, Batman – Killing Time in March. Yes, there is Batman comics overexposure, but these are mostly all great reads, leaving no style, trope, or Gotham City theme unturned.
- I’ve been enjoying Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow, which features some of the best artwork in any Big 2 title in I don’t know how long (courtesy of artist Bilquis Evely and colorist Mat Lopes). Take this week’s sixth issue: every page in this book is beautiful, oscillating from high-impact action and character beats to luscious science-fiction landscapes.
- Finally, writer Ram V. wraps up his excellent Catwoman in-continuity (unlike our feature book this week) run with a fun and quirky issue illustrated by Caspar Wijngaard. This has been a sneakily excellent DC Comic for the length of its run, which actually spans back before Fear State. So yes, nice we had such a strong run on this book but also a bit sad its ending. There is, however, good news on the way — in January writer Tini Howard takes over the book, collaborating with artist Nico Leon, and that story stands to bring Catwoman back to Gotham City in a more active capacity. Looking forward to that one!
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