Catwoman #37 (Comics Review)

The latest creative team on Catwoman seems determined to make a damn good name for itself and establish a new status quo that explores very new territory for the titular character. In the last two months, we’ve seen how Selina Kyle deals with being the head of the Calabrese family (the Calabrese-Kyle family that is) and the many tough decisions she is forced to take in that position. Set after the events of Batman: Eternal, the new direction on Catwoman has done much to engender in me an interest in the title and the character alike.

The new issue this week has Selina make yet another hard decision, with one of her cousins exposed as a snitch for the police. It is a very precarious position for the character since she is still consolidating her leadership over the Calabreses and the other families that look to her for support, and also her many enemies and potential allies are watching out for her. Genevieve Valentine has shown a knack for exploring the character’s inner dilemma and self-recrimination without it coming across as heavy-handed, and the art team has been pretty damn superb as well.

I’ll admit that it is somewhat sad to see that Selina has hung up her Catwoman identity and has gone “legit”, so to speak, but damn, it is still thrilling to see her as a mob boss, and especially someone with as much power as she does. Having been given her birthright by her father, the famed Rex Calabrese who once ruled all of Gotham before even Carmine Falcone became a big name, we have seen how Selina has struggled in her new role, adjusting slowly but surely so that she doesn’t make a mistake and bring harm to the family name, in any way.

As before, one of the lead-in elements of the new issue is a line of quotes from a famous person, a famous Chinese poet from the mid 7th century. This time, the quote highlights what happens in this issue with Nick Calabrese, Selina’s cousin, and how this decision weighs on her mind, and shows one of the many cracks in her developing defenses against her enemies, particularly Black Mask who is positioning himself in direct opposition to her and to the rest of the Calabrese family and its many dependents.

Buried beneath the calm, cool exterior is a fighting woman with nerves of steel, and that’s what Genevieve focuses on. This comic has gained so much more since she came in and she has developed a story that is intensely character-driven. And she is playing the long-arc game so we are still seeing how the various pieces are being set and moved on the chess-board of Gotham mob politics. This makes me want to love the comic even more.

And that’s not all of it either. In Black Mask we have a pretty damn good villain who proves to be the perfect foil for Selina in this soft reboot. He is cold and calculating, several steps ahead of her at every turn, and thus he proves to be a great challenge for Selina. He is someone entrenched in mob politics and the “way things work”. Selina isn’t and is making her own way. As Carmine Falcone dethroned Rex Calabrese, as Oswald Cobblepot took over after Falcone, and so on, now it is time for Black Mask to fall to Selina, because I think the story is pretty clear that that’s where things are headed. She is going to make a major enemy in the process, sure, and take a few more knocks, but I’ve got faith in her to pull through and smack him up and down.

Garry Brown is the artist here, with Lee Loughridge on colours, Taylor Esposito on letters, and the cover by Jae Lee and June Chung. The artwork in this issue, as before, is pretty stunning. The body language on the characters, and their expressions, it really pulls you in. The stylized artwork here complements the story, too, what with the dour and almost-faded colours that Lee works with here. And Black Mask himself, that man exudes villainy with every scene he is in, and his design really gives that impression.

This new creative team continues being awesome, and that’s all I really want out of all of them.

Rating: 9.5/10

More Catwoman: #25, #27, Future’s End, #35, #36.

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