Catwoman #51. Frank Tieri- Writer, Inaki Miranda & Elia Bonetti- Pencils & Inks, Eva de la Cruz- Colors,
Catwoman is one of those characters whos’s evolved from her introduction way back in 1940’s Batman #1. At first a thief, then later costumed villain to finally reformed spouse of Batman on alternate Earths. In main continuity, she’s always provided a problem for Batman as an adversary and love interest. In recent years, her character has gravitated more towards the crime genre and she has benefitted from this in her character growth. Catwoman #51 hints at some of her here-to-fore undisclosed past while she seeks out a relic also sought by the False Face Society. This story is told in two parts, present and past, interwoven throughout.
Richard Sionis, father of Black Mask, Roman Sionis is dying. Richard has a collection of masks at his mansion, and Selina is after one of them- the Faceless Mask, ancient, priceless and cursed. Selina is interrupted by the False Face Society who also have their eyes on the same item.
In the past, presumably before her career as Catwoman, Selina was already hustling and stealing, with an accomplice, a young man named David. We see them using a credit card at a jewelry store to buy an expensive piece. They go to a fence and get cash for their prize. Unfortunately, for them, the owner of the credit card figures it out. Clearly there’s more going on as the owner shows up to get some satisfaction and it is none other than Richard Sionis in a False Face Society Mask.
While this was not a big surprise, it was telegraphed a bit, but overall it makes sense. Back in the present, Selina follows the Fasle Face Society to their hideout in a cornfield. They are in the middle of a ceremony. And there new leader- White Mask is revealed- David. But as Selina says, “he’s dead.”
The scene shifts to Richard Sionis in the present. He’s in the hospital and apparently attended by a nurse. Apparently…. Well, it’s not a nurse, it’s his son- Black Mask. And he’s there to make sure that Richard dies, along with a few other people.
Set firmly in the Crime genre, and while a few of the elements are predictable, it fits the tone well. This doesn’t mean it’s not an enjoyable read. Most importantly, it provides a look at a younger Selina. It’s unclear where this fits into her history, but it certainly expands her character and perhaps it will even provide some motivation.
The predictability of the identities of Richard Sionis and David in the story detracts from the overall approach.
This is a solid Catwoman story that places her as the protagonist, but not as a hero. It provides the opportunity for the exploration of her character. For a fan of the character it’s a good story that promises some sort of payoff, presumably next issue.