[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Joelle Jones
Artists: Joelle Jones (Present) and Fernando Blanco (Past)
Colors: Laura Allred (Present), John Kalisz (Past)
Letters: Josh Reed
Things have gone from bad to worse for Selina in Villa Hermosa. Her new city has taken away what little she was able to carry with her from Gotham, and her rap sheet offers scant protection when local crooks frame her for murdering two police officers. The law has caught up with her and Catwoman is in the clink, giving her time to reflect on her life and all the things that led her to Vila Hermosa. Turns out she didn’t choose the move randomly or just to get away from the Batman. This special interlude issue takes us back in time to explode some previously unknown truth bombs from Selina Kyle’s past. BATWOMAN artist Fernando Blanco joins Joëlle Jones to explore a couple of the early versions of Catwoman’s nine lives.
Jones does a magnificent job interweaving pre-Flashpoint events involving the Black Mask affair. The family element was what was needed to get at the heart of Selina’s dilemma. The reintroduction of Selina’s sister Magdalene in this comic is a brilliant device to examine much about the push-and-pull behavior she has been saddled with. She and her sister are the product of an abusive household and both learned to deal with it in different ways. While she chose the life of a thief and later antihero, Maggie chose the faith and then later found love, only to lose both it and her mind. She represents for Selina the high point of normalcy that she either has turned away from, or has been denied her.
The sequence on Halloween night with Selina and the gun echoes when she shot Black Mask to save Maggie, and feels like a book end to that horrific event. That moment showed the moral ambiguity that was building in her personality. In such an oppressive environment, she saw the logic in stealing costumes for her and her sister, and in the gun to defend that boy from what may have killed him. However, given that Maggie could see the consequences of her recklessness where she could not, the adult Selina is seeing sharp parallels to her personal sacrifice of her marriage to Bruce.
Jones delivers a powerful counterpoint to what Selina once saw as an altruistic, heroic decision; Selina is now genuinely afraid that she left Bruce out of a subconscious self-destructive streak she hasn’t yet exorcised. Further, she sees Bruce’s broken heart as another black mark on her record, as gut-wrenching as Maggie’s mental state. Jones’ art perfectly conveys that pain that Selina feels able to well up and show only around the person that knows her most. What makes it even more agonizing for her is that her life is what led her sister into this institution completely catatonic; the blank look on her face is a visage that torments Selina. And now that her presence endangers Maggie yet again, this may be the chance at redemption that she unknowingly longs for.
The decision to use Blanco for the flashback sequences, as he had been used for the Creel flashbacks, work in that it’s a different period in these characters’ lives. Fernando’s style contrasts with Joelle’s in that it taps into traditional line art principles and feels sampled in the right way. Making Selina’s introspective moments the main focus worked in favor of providing substance to the main protagonist’s character who, up till now, had only hinted to the viewer her emotional trauma.
This is a fantastic issue with no negatives whatsoever.
This is both a much-needed break from the main conflict as well as the deepest examination of Catwoman’s present-day motivations and conflict that Jones has conveyed to the audience. The insertion of her long-suffering sister provides the reader with an avatar through which Selina can truly open up and gives her something more important to fight for besides her reputation.
Jones is a brilliant storyteller both through word and imagery. I can’t wait to see Selina unleash her wrath on this dude in the next issue. And I’ve got to say that the metallic line of comics, including this issue’s cover, is very unique.