Selina Kyle has gone to war with Oswald Cobblepot, and made it personal. It’s Catwoman vs the Penguin, with the Gotham Badlands caught in the crossfire.
Catwoman is a book that has been plagued with problems ever since the New 52 began. Selina spent most of her first issues pining over Batman and fighting off some unmemorable villains, with no real development whatsoever (and let’s not get started on the sex object controversy that hit in the very first issue). Even when the book began to show some real character development for Selina, mostly through her relationship with her fence Lola, the writer decided to go ahead and kill Lola instead so Selina could go back to being despondent. However, Nocenti has been slowly taking Selina in a more self-confident and self-reliant direction. She’s really been trying to show us a Selina who does not rely on Batman or her new allies in the Justice League of America to carry her along. This is a Selina that can take care of business on her own, and it begins to shine in this issue.
Rafa Sandoval’s art is also getting better with each issue. The book has a sharp, polished look that a lot of the current New 52 titles currently lack. Sandoval also avoids turning Selina into a sex object or eye candy, a problem many have had with this title since it began, through the subtle yet effective act of drawing her costume more functional than fashionable; Selina isn’t running around a battlefield with her cleavage hanging out, just waiting to catch a bullet.
For all the progress Nocenti seems to be making with Selina as a character, this issue still has a large amount of flaws. A lot of the dialogue seems to have an odd flow, making it off-putting and out of place. This could just be part of Nocenti’s writing style, in which case I can almost forgive it; different styles are not for everyone and my personal dislike of a style does not mean it is necessarily bad. However, there are some genuinely weird moments in the book that seem to serve no purpose other than giving Nocenti a soapbox to stand on, and it comes off as extremely distracting. When multiple characters stop in the middle of a war zone to talk to themselves about how they should remember to tweet the line they just said, it really brings you out of the story and just feels out of place.
There are also weird character quirks that seem to show no purpose other than being a weird quirk, such as the woman who will run through a field of bullets for a gallon of milk. This is seemingly used just to introduce her as the daughter of one of Penguin’s men, but in a “see, she isn’t so bad, she brought milk to children!” sort of way. It’s one of many moments that comes off as ham-fisted.
The Catwoman title still has a few problems it needs to work through before it becomes a “good” book, but Nocenti is trying. She really, really, is. Though the book itself may only be a two-star book, this issue shows some definite improvement that bumps it up a rank, and I think Nocenti may be able to really start to develop Selina now that she has her working on her own.
Brandon Stines is a projectionist living in Thousand Oaks, CA. He’s currently taking an extended vacation in Eorzea.