We start out in media res, with Catwoman drowning in an unnamed body of water, blood leaking out from her midsection. She hates the idea of drowning, but then again, who doesn’t?
A flashback takes us back to a rainy day, with Selina in a bar, where she’s met by the woman who had asked to meet her there – Karen Rain. Karen – who was married to a very well-connected (and now very dead) accountant in Villa Hermosa – wants Selina to find a file of her late husbands, one which contained information on all the offshore accounts for the Villa Hermosa syndicates. Whoever held that file would hold all the power in Villa Hermosa. Selina tells Karen that she’s not a thief for hire, but Karen explains that she only wants to get away from Villa Hermosa – whatever else Selina gets with the file, including power, is hers to keep. It’s a shiny little offer, one which Selina accepts.
She discovers where and how the files are being transported, and finds out that the Russians are also going to be after the files. Once the trouble starts between the Russians and the transport, Selina dives into the fray to get what she needs. Unfortunately for Catwoman, someone – a shadowy figure sitting in front of many monitors - has been watching her and tracking her moves. Explosions occur around a two-blue radius and the figure tells a masked man that they’re up. The masked figure attacks Selina while she’s in the armoured truck, hitting her with some ultra-sonic waves. He tries explaining what he’s done to Selina, but a prior brain injury makes it hard for him to communicate properly – he sometimes chooses the wrong words. He then goes silent and invisible on Catwoman, which is probably something that would work against most people, but Selina’s not most people. She lashes out with her trusty whip and gets her files back. A chase ensues across the rooftops of Villa Hermosa, one in which the mystery villain is able to get the files back from Selina.
Or so he thinks. Selina used a decoy and got away with the real files...or she thought she did, because the next thing she knows, she’s been shot in the abdomen and is falling into the bay below her, drowning...until she’s rescued by perhaps the unlikeliest, and coolest of guest stars. Gentleman Ghost! A thief himself – one with grace and dignity and style – he explains to Catwoman that while the file she has is valuable, the big prize is for assassinating Catwoman. Gentleman Ghost himself doesn’t want to kill Catwoman though – it's too ungentlemanly. He expects the file in return for saving Selina’s life, but Selina tells him that he can have it – but not yet.
Later, Selina realizes that the only reason they could have followed her is if they were watching her through video. She uses that to find out who was watching her – who wanted her dead...and of course, she finds them. Good for her, but it's going to be absolutely terrifying for them!
This is the second time that writer Ram V is doing a fill-in issue for Joelle Jones, and I have to say, he’s a welcome fill-in writer. This issue is a fun, inconsequential caper that really has nothing to do with Jones’ main storyline, but it helps plump up Selina’s life in Villa Hermosa, expanding her world and her status as someone who clearly is getting a reputation of their own. The most important thing is that Ram V treats and writes Selina with love and respect for who she is and what she’s capable of. There’s no dumbing down of the character here – from the decoy briefcase she uses to using her resources to take her to the person watching her, Selina is allowed to be smart, capable, and in control, and that’s important, given that a lot of times, fill-in writers don’t really write characters up to the level of what the book’s main writers are capable of doing. Ram V doesn’t have any such problems, and his Selina is fun.
One commendable thing is how believable this story is against the greater narrative that Jones has going on. By taking Raina Creel out, Selina has already created a power vacuum in Villa Hermosa, and it’s easy to believe that those vying for power and control of the city want her out so they can take over – her existence would easily be a thorn in anyone’s side. While at first glance, the story does seem a little rote – assassins are sent to kill the main character – the reasons behind it, tied in with everything that’s gone on in the series, works perfectly.
Karen Rain is an interesting character to introduce into Selina’s world. At first, her name seemed a little too close to Raina Creel’s name, though it doesn’t seem as though there’s any true connection between the two women, despite their both being from Villa Hermosa. Her story is a little too pat, though, and one wonders if she had more to do than she says with her husband’s death. No one really wants to walk away from power and glory, do they? (Also, the fact that two of Selina’s villains have now had rain-related names makes me wonder if this is something the writers and editors might be setting up as sort of an in-joke. Cats do hate water, after all, and themed naming isn’t something new to DC Comics characters. Look at Superman and all the LLs that are important in his world.)
Mirka Andolfo is on art duties for this issue, and it has to be said – she draws a fantastic Catwoman. Her Catwoman is strong, dynamic, lithe, and fast. There’s a toonish aspect to her work that works well for Selina, and the world she creates for her is believable as being the same Villa Hermosa that was created by Jones and the other artists on the book. She’s even able to imbue Gentleman Ghost with a personality, and that’s generally difficult to do, given that the character has no face. But just through his body language and the way he interacts with Catwoman person-to-person, you get a sense for his character, and the sort of threat he represents. Plus the chase scene between Catwoman and her would-be assassin is just dynamic. Andolfo’s style is very different from Jones’ style, but she’s absolutely a welcome guest artist on this book whenever she wants to come back. It’s wonderful having another artist onboard who can draw expressive characters, and imbue them with power and sex appeal without making them overly cheesecakey.
It's rare to find a fill-in issue that works well within the context of the greater story, but this one absolutely does and it's well-worth a read.
Catwoman #14: Of Cats and Gentlemen
- Writing - 8/108/10
- Storyline - 7/107/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 8/108/10
- Cover Art - 8/108/10
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