Ann Nocenti prepares to dazzle and amaze in another installment of the hit classic CATWOMAN. That’s the title of this review if we lived on Earth 2, but we don’t.
Last time I reviewed CATWOMAN #33 (Ann Nocenti & John Livesay) it was mostly a catch-up on how Nocenti’s use of the character seems slightly confused. Last month she took Catwoman on a race through the desert, and this week we return to the previous plot of illegitimate children and finally getting a one-up on Roulette, who hasn’t been a compelling character since Justice League was on television.
The thing about Ann Nocenti is you can tell she really loves comics – but that she might only draw her storytelling inspiration from comic books and the kind of fiction that inspired their format, especially in regards to superhero comics. This creates a problem because the stories eventually become recursive, and never truly grow.
Calling CATWOMAN “Not very good,” to a lot of readers, is kind of an understatement. It’s true that CATWOMAN is far from the best title being put out by DC right now, but it also might be far from the worst. Selina Kyle has never entirely been a character that’s defined by her supporting cast. Rather, she’s commonly depicted as not much more than a stable (and sometimes well-written) member of a certain someone else’s supporting cast. Catwoman is, more or less, as inseparable from the Batman mythos as Robin is.
Let’s be honest: there’s really no reason to want to buy CATWOMAN right now. It’s fairly forgettable. While I like the attempt to give Selina Kyle her own true supporting cast, you just never care enough about any of them to remember them until they show back up on the page…
…and I think that’s mostly because none of these characters ever have a real conversation with Selina unless they’re there to drop exposition. They don’t talk to Selina in the same way that, say, Alfred talks to Bruce. There’s no real hint of characters underneath the surface – I want these characters to be gone when they show up because it means the plot is moving closer to the end.
Look, all I can say is that if your villain fulfills the exact same role as your supporting cast, you might want to stop and re-examine how a particular story is being told. The only difference between two of the villains in this issue is that they’re attacking Catwoman the whole time they’re explaining away what they were doing and why.
Aside from the writing, the artist’s grasp over basic human anatomy is pretty tenuous – either that or Catwoman just got Ralph Dibny’s powerset as penance for him not being included in the New 52. Seriously: There are some bad poses in comic books, but I thought we were at least getting away from the broken spine jumping-poses by now. Catwoman never looks powerful or imposing when she’s fighting in these comics lately.
Cliff Chiang does the cover on this issue and it stands out compared to the rest of the book. Catwoman and Roulette are transposed over a giant burning face constructed of legal documents. Catwoman’s strike looks powerful and both women’s expressions say nothing but anger. It’s a direct contrast to the shallow contents of the actual story contained within the pages of this issue.
CATWOMAN isn’t awful, but it’s so middle-quality that it’s almost not worth talking about.
As the book changes creators soon, just like WONDER WOMAN, maybe we’ll see another take on this character and her friends. Maybe once Nocenti switches over to Klarion she’ll really show some promise as a writer, but I’m just not seeing it in the pages of CATWOMAN.