In the aftermath of her bloody war with the Penguin, Catwoman is determined to reclaim one of her fallen soldiers. But the Gotham underground is a lot stranger than anyone could have anticipated…
Right off the bat, it looks like Nocenti has finally settled nicely into writing Selina; none of her dialogue seems out of place or character. Reading this issue felt like reading good old Selina Kyle, exactly as we remembered her. Secondly, Nocenti did something that I don’t recall many other writers doing and explained where she gets all her weapons and gadgetry by bringing in the character of Tesla. It’s clear the two have a history; if Selina tests equipment for Tesla on jobs, Tesla lets her have it. It’s the sort of “alliance” that actually fits well with her character and doesn’t feel forced. Nocenti also gets kudos for focusing on an area of Gotham that’s usually only mentioned in passing: the underground. However, this is when stuff gets…well, weird.
Selina’s trip into the underground starts off fairly normal; some sewers, mazes of tunnels, standard Gotham fare. And then we get to Doctor Phosphorus. This once-fearsome Arkham resident has fallen victim to the usual Nocenti approach of trying to do something different, only to have it come out just plain weird. The doctor is now head of an underground tribe that worships him, mining for rare gems where an underground river of lava meets water, with a daughter he has inexplicably fathered with a stream of lava, a stark contrast to his appearances in the new Detective Comics. This daughter is also obsessed with and only with having a husband; all of her dialogue is “daddy, I want a husband.” Perhaps Nocenti is building towards something with this, but it just came out of nowhere and feels extremely awkward.
This issue started strong but just seemed to fall apart halfway through; it’s as if Nocenti didn’t know the character of Doctor Phosphorus well enough to come up with a plot and just decided to throw whatever she felt like in there. It feels very out of place, and completely halts any momentum.