Advent Review #1: Catwoman #25 (Comics Review)

By now this month, its absolutely not a secret what’s going on in Gotham. In last month’s Batman #24, the Riddler turned off the city’s main power supply and with a mother-of-all-storms coming to the city, people are in desperate need of the most basic things. Like batteries, batteries are worth more than expensive mountain climbing gear right now in fact! And that’s where this (one of) latest tie-ins to Scott Snyder’s Zero Year comes in. This is almost an origin story for Selina Kyle, Gotham’s master thief, and it is pretty damn good.

I’ve never read a Catwoman issue before, whether in the New 52 or before that, so this was very much my first solo introduction to the character. She’s popped in a few times in other books, like Geoff Johns’ Justice League of America in which she was a part of the team that ARGUS Director Amanda Waller put together, but other than that I know her only through the movies (Anne Hathaway’s portrayal rocked) and whatever animated stuff I’ve come across. As a first issue, this was a great issue and if the rest of the series is this good, both in terms of the art and the story, then I’d love to read more.

Catwoman 25In this sort-of origin story, we see Selina during the thick of the zero electricity crisis in Gotham. She’s just a street thief, someone who robs her targets brazenly in the open during the day, and gradually, John Layman transforms her into someone who turns to a life of higher-quality robberies, or burglaries more like it. This is a straightforward story conceptually and John uses an out-of-sync narrative to tell the entire story, backed up by some wonderful artwork from Aaron Lopresti and the rest of the art team, who are all on top form.

I loved the carefree, crime-is-fun portrayal of Selina here. She is quite a different person from what I’ve read in other New 52 comics, and that change is for the better considering how far back in her timeline this story is set, some six years before the current ongoing timeline with the events of Geoff Johns’ latest event, Forever Evil. And I’ll say that John’s Catwoman, or rather Selina Kyle I should say, as presented here seems to be a very natural backwards extension of the Catwoman we saw in Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan’s third Batman movie. She inhabits that same kind of moral grey are that was there in the movies, and which hasn’t really come across for me in her New 52 cameos.

And that makes for a big change. John seemingly deconstructs her and simplifies the character to the core of what she is and what she is meant to be. She’s definitely an anti-hero here, and someone who is just trying to define herself in the ongoing events of Gotham, what with some costumed and masked freak running around town (aka Batman).

Many of the Zero Year tie-ins have been unnecessary and frustrating with the break they provide from ongoing storylines, coming so close on the heel of the whole Villain’s Month-necessitated break, and others have actually presented a decent side-story that complements the main stories. While I haven’t been reading Catwoman at all in the New 52, I’d go by my gut instinct and say that Catwoman #25 falls into the latter category. It is a story that gives me a slice of the main protagonist, and has plenty of both action and character drama. Its a great mix and I’m quite elated to see John Layman write Selina so well. Perhaps he could move on to writing Catwoman given that he is moving off Detective Comics and as far as I know there hasn’t been any other ongoing announced for him. Given what he’s done in the just-finished arc on Detective Comics, I’d love for him to write something else for DC. And it is Catwoman, then so be it. I’m definitely on board.

Aaron Lopresti does the internal pencils for this issue, with Art Thibert providing the inks, Sonia Oback providing the colours and Travis Lanham on the letters. If you take the art as a whole, then I’d have to say that Catwoman #25 is one of better looking issues of November, definitely up there in a top-of-the-month category. Aaron stays away from any gratuitous sexualisation of the character, and that’s a big plus as far as I’m concerned, considering some of the stuff I’ve heard about the series from other people. Aaron’s pencils are refined and clean, if with a slight bit of inconsistency here and there. Art’s inking is pretty spot-on as well, far as I can tell, and Sonia’s colours are definitely top-notch, nothing flashy, but subtle tones everywhere.

I’m gonna say this: this issue reminded me of the silly, sometimes really goofy nature of comics. DC has created New 52 to be a very super-serious place all the time and there is not much in the way of humour for the rebooted DCU, with only Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis’ Larfleeze providing any strong humour vibes at all, and that title is still in its infancy, just five issues thus far. So in all of that, getting this silly and goofy title from John Layman gave me an even deeper appreciation for it. There are some minor plot holes here and there, but the writing is such that you don’t focus on them all that much.

You just enjoy the ride.

Rating: 9/10

Posted on December 1, 2013, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

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