[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Story & Art: Joelle Jones
Colors: Laura Allred
Letters: Josh Reed
A secret hideout is supposed to be just that—secret. So how did her new villain’s criminal crew know where to plant an explosive in Selina’s new pad? As if that blow-up weren’t bad enough, the cops come calling and arrest Selina for murder. Locked up without bail, Catwoman finds that she isn’t very popular in jail, and must fight the other inmates just to stay alive and avoid a shiv. Will she make a deal with her new nemesis, that cagey Creel, or is orange the new black for Selina’s foreseeable future?
Jones’ book ending techniques never fail to impress. The decision to layer the murder of Edmond Creel against the attempted murder of Selina’s sister felt like it belonged on television or in cinema. You could almost see the flow of Selina’s defense set against Edmond’s horrific self-inflicted wounds. The coloring decisions for those events seemed to channel David Mazzuchelli’s panels from Marvel’s Daredevil “Born Again” panels or even “Batman: Year One” sequences. Her choice to show the frame-by-frame folding of the flag and reading of the priest’s words during the funeral work well in enhancing the disgust Raina’s behavior in the limo inspires.
Joelle has created an antagonist that is a true master at subterfuge and depravity. As I have said numerous times, she is hollowed out in body and soul, and sadly her own children are caught in the mud she thrives in. She is even brilliant enough to have employed a drug appropriately named after Narcissus and orchestrate a suicide and inspire sympathy. She truly has slept her way to the top of the ladder and has manipulated events and people to leave none not on her payroll to suspect any wrongdoing. This is truly a worthy opponent for Catwoman.
This issue also brings Selina’s own self-inflicted pain from leaving Bruce at the alter back into focus, yet offers her some glimmer of hope with Maggie finally showing a reaction to something. In Selina’s mind, she blames herself for what has happened to Maggie, and has turned her back on the one real home she had. While there is no resolution, that dream that has her wanting to sleep after pushing herself so hard these past few issues conveys exactly her level of emotional exhaustion. She just wants to rest and wanted no part in any of Creel’s psychotic plans. And still, she could not leave her alone. Jones portrays this antagonist as someone who is very reactionary when she senses a threat like one of the greatest thieves alive in her midst. And yet she hides this fear of loss of control behind a veil of superiority.
The final splash as Selina announces she’s on the offensive with all claws out is Joelle’s way of showing a Catwoman pushed too far. Creel has attacked both Selina’s reputation and now her family as a way of controlling her, and she has never been one to be led around. It will be very satisfying to see her confront her face to face next issue. I’m also interested to see what Narcissistrene does in small doses as opposed to an overdose. Is it like Venom? Or is it something a lot more dangerous?
I honestly can’t think of a bad thing to say about this issue because it’s so perfectly balanced and choreographed, like a dance in both art and script. Still, I think Laura Allred’s color palette works in some areas, yet not in others. The final splash works in conveying Selina taking control, but the background’s inking suggest a round, cave-like atmosphere when the previous pages reveal it to be a very large basement, cubic in structure.
The level of darkness Raina Creel radiates is unleashed, especially in the case of her youngest son (or is it stepson?). The sequentials in their simplicity are straight to the point with minimal prose, making it an easy read and sometimes so quick they have to go back a few pages to pick up what was missed. The fact there is incentive to take a second look is proof of the engaging method of storytelling Joelle employs. Jones has reinvigorated Catwoman in the same way that the late Darwyn Cooke had years earlier by not ignoring what’s canon and expanding on that foundation. In short, one word sums it up and is the highest and most relevant in this character’s case: Meow.