In Review: Catwoman #1

I won't be back to this Catwoman.

The covers: A trio to find for this first issue of the Queen of Crime’s relaunch. The Regular cover is by series writer and artist Joëlle Jones and colorist Laura Allred. This has Selina sitting on a dresser. There’s a bottle of wine next to her and an overturned glass. There’s a circular bed to the left covered in cats, while a folding screen comprises the background. Selina is holding Batman #50, telling the reader, “I do? Or I don’t? Read Batman #50 first or I’ll spoil the whole thing.” Cute idea for the cover, but the title character is too small and the colors are just drab. This does not inspire any excitement. Better is the Variant cover by Stanley “Artgerm” Lau. This has Selina costumed and handing from her whip before a spotlight that illuminates her and the brick building behind her. She looks great, with her shadow casting an outline similar to her former fiancee. In the window behind her the silhouette of a cat can be seen. This is what I want on a Catwoman cover! There’s also a Blank Sketch Variant cover which features the title, company, and price at the top and Jones and Allred’s name in the bottom right. The rest is a blank space for an artist to create a one of a kind cover or for a fan to get the signatures of this issue’s creators. I like these covers for their potential, but on their own they are not much. Overall grades: Regular B-, Variant A-, and Blank Sketch Variant C

The story: The book opens dramatically with Catwoman on a rooftop killing a police officer with a shot from her pistol. A turn of the page splits the story into three concurrently running stories: 1. Catwoman being pursued by other officers; 2. Selina playing mahjongg in a club; and 3. Governor Creel’s wife Raina being interviewed on television. This is an exciting way by writer Joëlle Jones to get the reader into the story and have them questioning what they’re seeing with regards to Catwoman shooting a policeman, yet Selina is gambling in a club. Raina Creel’s inclusion might seem a little questionable, but it will pay off in a few pages. When Selina leaves the club trouble comes her way and she has to get out of danger as fast as she can. She’s revealed to have new living quarters, since she’s no longer in Gotham City given the events of Batman #50. There are also two new characters that are revealed to know where she’s holding up. Given their responses, they know Selina well. Raina looks to be the villain of this first story arc and she’s got several surprises for the reader. She’s responsible for the Catwoman’s killing on the first page as well as other Catwoman conundrums. This was an okay story, but I prefer to see my title characters as their costumed alter egos more so than out of costume, and it took a while to get there. Raina is an extremely interesting visual character, but her motivations for what she’s doing haven’t been revealed. The conclusion of the issue is a cliffhanger that doesn’t intrigue me. The story started strong, but petered out as it went along. Overall grade: B-

The art: I’m not liking the visuals on this book. Joëlle Jones’s visuals are very stylized on the characters, with some different line work on their faces to establish depth, such as on the Creels on Page 2. The also appear on the officer who pulls his gun on Catwoman on Page 3. These lines aren’t ever on Selina. The lack of lines make her look much more attractive than the other characters in this book, but it also makes her stand out for her lack of them. Catwoman in the first panel is difficult to make out due to the angle she’s shown at as well as the coloring: her right foot blends into her left leg. Sadly, this happens a lot for Catwoman in costume — she becomes a dark splotch on the page. The next time this happens is in the sixth panel on 6. When characters move quickly, the speed lines used are minimal, barely at the top and the bottom of the panels. They don’t add to the speed of the visuals and should just be eliminated. The highlight of the book is Raina’s full reveal. It’s fantastic. It’s grotesque and has no sound effects, but I could imagine several sick noises as she undressed. I don’t know if it’s because the characters are too hidden by the dark colors or the original artwork is just overly dark that has me not keen on how this book looks. When I purchase a comic I expect to see the characters. Realism is fine, but if the artwork is obscured by being so real, the reader will be frustrated. I was. Overall grade: C- 

The color: As with the art, I’m not liking this. Laura Allred is the colorist and the book is just too dark. I’m not wanting the kicky colors of 1960’s Batman, but I want to see what I’ve purchased. Lightning Catwoman’s costume would be an easy save. Coloring the night sky violet is a good way to allow characters to be seen, but they’re wearing dark colors, so it doesn’t help too much. Catwoman is barely visible in that penultimate panel on 6. Were it not for Selina’s legs showing, she would be difficult to make out when the police chase her. Her new digs are really dark, only getting any color when Jones doesn’t create a background; here, Allred gets to have some bright colors appear. More of this, please! This book is just too dark to enjoy. Overall grade: D+

The letters: Josh Reed is the creator of this issue’s yells, narration, dialogue, transmissions, sounds, signage, a note, and the book’s credits. I was pleased to see the narration and dialogue be different fonts, and the transmissions have their own unique look. The note that causes Selina to get emotional was neat and the sounds are appropriately explosive. Overall grade: A

The final line: I won’t be back to this Catwoman. The story is okay, but the villain outshines the title character who isn’t in costume enough. The visuals were the real black eye for me, with realism making things too difficult to see. If I can’t see the art clearly, I might as well save my money and buy a novel. Overall grade: C

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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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