In Review: Catwoman #41

This isn't a Catwoman comic, it's a mobster comic, and I felt I was taken.

The covers: Selina looks like Lori Petty on the Main cover by Kevin Wada. The Mistress of Crime is sitting in a large chair, wearing her, now normal, suit, holding a poker while staring into a fire. The blaze is casting her shadow on the wall that shows her alter ego creeping along to her newest catch. I’m not a fan of this look for Selina, but I’m a fan of Petty, so I approve. The Variant cover is a Joker 75th Anniversary edition with a giant boxing glove with a happy Catwoman face on it punching out the Joker, who’s flipped backwards, losing his gun, about to hit the floor head first. This is a good illustration by Javier Pulido that’s striking for its colors: red, white, and black, with touches of light purple and green. I don’t think Selina has fought the Joker this way since the 1960s, but it’s a pretty cool cover. Overall grades: Main A- and Variant B+

The story: I haven’t read any Catwoman comics since it began renumbering, so I was hoping to come in and brought up to speed easily. That didn’t happen. The book opens in Gotham City. Not long ago. Gangster Falcone walks into The Last Chance at midnight to drop off Sionis’ tithe. He does so and then Catwoman states that she’s replaced the money that’s been dropped off with sequential bills, making the money impossible to spend, thus making him want to do business with the Calabreses, a mob family she works for. Genevieve Valentine has written a comic focusing on mobster power plays, rather than a costumed criminal on the prowl. I didn’t like this. On Page 3 she’s leaving the opera with Antonia Calabrese and encounters Oswald Cobblepot and they share veiled barbs. Once back home she learns about the death of Batman. Apparently this Selina Kyle hasn’t seen Batman killed and resurrected several times over, so she’s filled with grief — and belief in his death, for a page. As I read I felt I was involved in a middle of a gang war and had no clue who the players were and what the stakes were. For example, who’s the woman on Page 8? I have nothing in this book to justify the significance of this character or this emotional release to her.  I just didn’t care, and I was bored. If I wanted this type of story I could read or watch several other forms of entertainment involving gangsters. I paid for Catwoman, not Selina Kyle: Mobster. It’s not going to be the story that has me returning to this book with this plotline or this version of Selina. Overall grade: F

The art: This is why I purchased this book. I am a huge fan of David Messina, whose work I fell in love with on several of IDW’s Star Trek books. He’s the reason I picked this up, but this story gives him little opportunity to show his stellar talents. The opening page is the stereotypical mob money drop, which is even stated as being so in the dialogue; the second page has nine panels, with the first six showing something being picked up and the same thing being put down. I have no idea what this object is — a phone, a shoe? — I can’t tell and it’s not specified in the script. On Page 3 Messina finally gets to show his power with a splash of the opera box making Selina look like a Caesar, with a circular panel inset that shows her features off wonderfully. Page 4 is sumptuous and has a Cobblepot that’s wonderfully sinister. When Selina goes upstairs and Bruce’s death hits her, there’s a great sense of movement without having to break her every step into separate panels. The two pages devoted to the villains look fantastic, with huge windows showing the city at night as the baddies plot. There’s no action to speak of for Messina to illustrate and there’s no panels with the title character even wearing her mask. Messina can do tremendous work, but the story restrains him. Overall grade: B

The colors: The coloring on this book by Lee Loughridge is typical of how Messina’s work has been colored at other companies. It’s very theatrical looking, with one color dominating a panel or a page to create a mood. The oranges of the first page scream scuzzy low-lit bar, the blues on 2 emulate a dark room, and Page 3 is royal in purple in and gold. I enjoyed seeing the skyline be a blood red, foreshadowing the impending conflict that will go beyond words. Overall grade: B+ 

The letters: Scene setting, signage, dialogue, narration, quotes and translations, opening title and credits, computer fonts, and television transmissions are crafted by Travis Lanham. I love letterers that create narration that is different from dialogue, and Lanham has done an incredibly slick job on Selina’s. Overall grade: A+  

The final line: This isn’t a Catwoman comic, it’s a mobster comic, and I felt I was taken. I was bored and lost with the story. I’ll skim the next issue before purchasing it. Overall grade: D+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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