Catwoman: When in Rome (2005)

 

Quote:
You can keep asking questions. As long as you understand you may not like the answers.

 

This book collects the six issue mini-series of the same name and tells the story of the investigations of Catwoman when she disappeared from Gotham as mentioned in The Long Halloween. The book is by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale the creative team behind DC’s The Long Halloween, Dark Victory, Superman for all Seasons and Marvel’s colour series: Daredevil: Yellow, Spider-man: Blue, Hulk: Gray and a book that sadly looks like it won’t be coming out now Captain America: White.

The story finds Catwoman in Rome looking for evidence to prove whether or not her father is Gotham crime boss Carmine Falcone. Accompanied by Edward Nigma and a mafia hitman minder, Christopher “The Blond” Castillo, she soon finds herself having to steal the Mafia equivalent of the one ring from the Vatican. In her travels echoes of Gotham travel with her as a mafia boss is murdered with the Joker’s poison; she finds herself under attack from Mr Freeze’s gun and the villainess Cheetah who seems to have followed her from Gotham. And what is the meaning of the strange dreams she has of Batman that haunt her throughout the trip.

The partnership of Loeb and Sale has produced some great series, as listed above. This one is a reasonable effort but I think it suffers from being an afterthought to a subplot in The Long Halloween. If I had re-read The Long Halloween before reading this one then I might have felt differently but I don’t think there is enough plot of substance here for a casual reader, or even a fan of Catwoman herself, who had not read the previous series. If you are a fan of Sale’s art then it is worth having a look for that reason – there are some very nice examples including the wonderful covers (based on the work of René Gruau) to the original mini-series.

Gotham City Sirens: Union (2010)

 

Quote:
“… I was livin’ it up as personal court jester to the Clown Prince of Crime!”

“You know he hates being called that.”

“I’m sure he prefers it to “Puddin'”!”

 

This book collects the first seven issues of this new series – one of a few started in the aftermath of the Batman R.I.P. storyline. It was written by Paul Dini who of course is no stranger to the Batman world having written Batman comics and been heavily involved with some of the Batman animated series. He is also the co-creator of Harley Quinn who is one of the lead characters in the book. The art is by a newcomer to DC, the Spanish artist Guillem March.

Gotham City is a strange place in wake of Batman’s death. Dick Grayson takes over as Batman with Bruce Wayne’s son as Robin. The Riddler gives up a life of crime. And Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn become BFF and move into Selina’s soon to be converted animal shelter. The story outlines how the girls run into each other and end up with Selina, a plot by Hush, posing as Bruce Wayne, to get revenge on Catwoman through Harley and a jealous Joker’s attempts to kill Harley for associating with Wayne.

I really wanted to love this book but it ended up being just OK. The action is a bit slow in getting going and is not helped by the third chapter, called Riddle Me This, that inexplicably only features our heroines on one page and details a story featuring a team-up between the Riddler and Batman to try and prevent a crime that has a puzzle element to it. The second half of the book is much better with Poison Ivy and Catwoman tracking down Hush and rescuing Harley before becoming targets of the Joker’s apparently insane jealousy. The final chapter in the book is another filler story. So it was disappointing that a new series had two seemingly filler stories in its first seven issues and that the whole did not really hang together as a storyline as much as it should have. The fact that the story improved in issues 4 – 6 is enough to give me hope that a second volume is worth investigating but the writing needs to be a lot more focussed on the central characters and have a stronger plotline.

Catwoman: Wild Ride (2005)

This collection follows on from my last read and collects Catwoman #20-24 – again written by Ed Brubaker.

After the last volume, this one has a much lighter tone – in both the story and the art. Holly and Selina go on a road trip and on the way Selina runs into trouble and some minor DC characters – such as Wildcat, Captain Cold and Hawkman and Hawkgirl – as well as some Egyptian ninja type characters.

Not as good for me as the previous volume. Selina goes on a quest that is not at all interesting for me – maybe I would be more engaged having known some of the earlier history of Holly that I am missing but probably not. It is also disappointing in that this is that last volume of the Brubaker run to be collected, as far as I am aware, so the subplot introduced here with the mysterious religious fanatics will remain unresolved unless I go to the original comics.

This is the last of the library books that I have at the moment so it is time to return to my own collection and a break from superheroes for a while.

Catwoman: Relentless (2004)

Another title that I am joining in a middle of a run – this collection collects Catwoman #12-19. It is also another story written by Ed Brubaker – almost seems like he has an exclusivity clause with my local library.

In the first half of the book, a psychotic crime boss in the east end of Gotham, Black Mask (a Batman villain that I am not familiar with), is plotting revenge on Catwoman for the theft of a diamond shipment. In the course of this revenge he is aided by an old friend of Selina’s from her youth in the street gangs in Gotham. He also entices Selina’s sister and her husband to Gotham and kidnaps and tortures them. The second half of the book deals with the aftermath of the ending of the Black Mask’s scheme and the psychological damage it has inflicted on all concerned.

Brubaker introduces me to a very different Catwoman than the one that I am used to seeing. Gone is the lone cat burglar of old to be replaced with a much more social group of supporting characters – a necessary move if trying to sustain the interest in a character over the course of an ongoing series. Selina is portrayed more as a minor crime fighter and benefactor to the east end of Gotham where she grew up and is suffering from deprivation and neglect. She is seen using the funds gained from the diamonds stolen from Black Mask to build a new community centre and apparently confirming an agreement with the Batman not to be involved in major theft.

The book was enjoyable but probably would have benefited from having read the earlier issues that introduce her social circle and the events leading up to the Black Mask’s revenge. The book had a noir-ish feel to it – possibly because one of the supporting characters is a private detective – that was well suited to the streets of the east end of Gotham. I have the next volume from the library but will probably look out for the earlier volumes also – especially if they were written by Brubaker.