Truth be told, I don’t have much of an experience with the Catwoman title, apart from a couple issues I read as part of a couple of mini-events at DC. Ann Nocenti’s much-maligned run has put me off quite a bit from checking out her run from the get go, but with some recent changes in Selina’s status quo, particularly the fact that she currently stars in Gotham as her younger self, means that I’m much more interested in Catwoman than I ever was before. I’m generally familiar with her from various animated appearances, but that’s really it. And I think it is great that as of this week Catwoman has a new creative team.
With writer Ann Nocenti moving off to the new series Klarion, Genevieve Valentine is brought in to take the reins of Catwoman and shepherd the titular character to a new phase in her life, where she is no longer Catwoman but is instead Selina Kyle Calabrese, the heir of the Calabrese mob-family, given that her father is its patriarch, Rex Calabrese. Much of this was told in some recent issues of Batman: Eternal, and Valentine takes all of that and just runs with it, delivering a really great story. And the art by Garry Brown and Lee Loughridge is just as exciting as you can expect.
The issue does not make it clear how far after Batman: Eternal this issue is set. Sure, it can also be said that it takes place during the events of the weekly comic, but that’s really the only negative thing about this issue from a writing perspective. I would have liked to have had that clarity, that’s really it.
With Rex Calabrese giving her his blessings and take over from her father while he serves out his long sentence, Selina takes charge of the most important mob-families in Gotham and begins to bring them to hell. We’ve only ever seen her before as a jewel thief and a criminal, so the events of this new issue are quite significant in that Selina seems to have left her identity as Catwman behind her in favour of something new, the head of a mob family with all the power and influence that this gives her.
In strong contrast to Ann Nocenti’s Selina Kyle, Genevieve Valentine’s Selina Kyle reads much different. She is smarter, less impulsive, more of a thinker. And I liked that. By taking over the Calabrese family and its various holdings and vassals, Selina has transformed herself into a leader that the other families can get behind. We saw some inklings of this in last month’s Catwoman: Future’s End #1 one-shot, written by Tom Nguyen and Walden Wong, but we see this new side of her really come to the fore in this issue and it is glorious.
Also, there’s a lot of setup in this issue. That means that this is more exposition-heavy than I was expecting, but it all works out in the end because this is a different Selina and some allowances have to be made. Plus, there’s the fact that this Selina is more introverted, and that she keeps everything bottled up rather than letting it all out. Her conversations with her newfound cousins, the leaders of the other families, and even Batman speak volumes of how she has changed.
For me, Genevieve’s Selina Kyle is someone I can really get behind. She still has her own particular quirks and what not, but she has also genuinely grown from when we last saw her in Batman: Eternal, and she seems to be making some great inroads in her new life, one less frivolous and frenetic than before.
Garry Brown is the artist here with Lee Loughridge on colours and lettering duties shared by Sal Cipriano and Taylor Esposito while Jae Lee and June Chung provide the cover. The combination of Garry and Lee means that the art on this issue veers close to awesome. There are some panels where the female characters, particularly Selina and her female cousin look too alike and the differentiation really is lacking, but overall the art was quite solid. Gone is Selina’s “cat-walk”, now she is a bold and confident major player in Gotham’s hidden politics and she has the body language to match all of that. Plus the artists are really able to capture how she feels about being a major mob boss really well, so I’m definitely not complaining in any way.
Can’t wait to see what next week brings!