Selina Kyle has arrived at a party being hosted by Raymond Creel, the son of the soon-to-be-ex Mayor Edmond Creel and his wife, Raina. Raymond has been waiting for Selina and invites her in because he has something he would like to discuss with her. Selina calls him out on his having hired a bunch of actresses to impersonate Catwoman, and Raymond apologizes, saying it was simply to get her attention. He wants to offer her a deal – conditions to reside in Villa Hermosa. Selina turns down those conditions, saying that she has her own reasons for being in Villa Hermosa, and that her counter-offer is for the Creels to stay away from Selina. Unfortunately for Selina, while they were talking, the party-goers – mostly people in their fifties and above – were juicing up on some sort of strengthening drug that allowed them to fight Selina, which they do, as soon as she turns the offer down. When one of the smoke bombs she obtained from her friend Carlos, she’s attacked by one of the party-goers and goes flying out the window. She survives, luckily enough, and makes her escape.
Later that night, at the Governor’s Mansion, Raina and Edmond discuss his cancer, and how resigning from the office of the Mayor was the best choice for him. This segues into some of Raina’s backstory, where we learn how truly dark and manipulative she is, and how far she is willing to gain power and riches. She’s left a wake of death, destruction, and abuse behind her as she’s worked to get what she wants, and her current husband is simply one more pawn who has outlived his usefulness, so of course she tries to kill him, given the utter disappointment he has turned out to be.
At the self-storage center that is Selina’s new home, Selina is bathed by Linda, as Carlos brings more hot water. Carlos worries about Selina gambling away her stuff, and while Linda worries that Selina gambles too much. They don’t have too long to talk, though, because a cuckoo clock goes off and Selina tells them that she has an appointment. Linda is surprised – Selina needs a hospital, because she likely has two broken ribs and some other ailments, but Selina is insistent. This isn’t an appointment she can break. She slips on her costume, then, and goes dashing across the rooftops in obvious pain. She is content to put that pain aside, because as we soon discover, Selina’s appointment is with none other than her sister – who sits in a wheelchair, staring off into the distance.
Catwoman #3 continues the strong start that Joelle Jones had started with the first and second issues of the series. One of the most remarkable things is how human Joelle Jones allows Selina to be. This may very well be the most realistic, three-dimensional Selina Kyle that has been seen since Ed Brubaker’s run early last decade. She’s not a perfect, flawless thief, or a preternatural figure of the night. She’s not always coy and sly and playful, all wicked grins and double-cross plans. Instead, this is a very layered, complex Selina, but one who is falliable to the world around her and isn’t always prepared for the latest twist that might come her way. Despite that, though, she’s a survivor and a scrappy fighter, quick on her feet, determined, and someone who doesn’t take lightly to threats. She’s also always one of the smartest, most alert people in the room, which one has to be if they’re going to survive the way Selina has. Her early scenes with Raymond Creel are full of tension – especially after the cliffhanger of the last issue – but the best part about it is that Selina knowingly walked into a trap, and she didn’t allow herself to be blindsided. Well, until she was thrown out the window at the end of that confrontation, but that only leaves the door open for the story to be resolved later, which it definitely will be.
The most surprising twist in the story is Selina’s reason for being in Villa Hermosa – her sister. Ostensibly still named Magdalene “Maggie” Kyle in this version as well, it’s tough to tell what past elements will be drawn for Maggie into this incarnation of the character – she has, after all, been a nun in past continuity, as well as a misguided, villainous foil for Selina, going by the name of Sister Zero. All that can be said right now is that she’s obviously somehow in Selina’s care, but having Maggie around is a welcome sight. It’s nice for Selina to have some family, and coming to take care of her ailing sister is a great reason for Selina to get away from Gotham. There’s every possibility that the drugs that the senior citizens used at the Creel party will somehow play a part in the healing of Maggie Kyle, and Maggie may very well be the thing that pushes Selina into a final, powerful confrontation with Raina Creel, whenever the two of them finally come face to face.
There’s a lot we’re told about Raina Creel’s backstory here, and though it goes a long way into explaining the sort of person she is, there’s not a lot about her backstory that comes across as particularly shocking or different or new. Manipulative, killing people to get ahead, slowly poisoning the children of the family who took her in, marrying and killing powerful men for their money and the social currency they possess – she’s basically every real-life black widow serial killer ever from the true crime section at Barnes & Noble consolidated into a withered monstrosity. That being said, though, she’s certainly going to be a formidable villain against Selina, and Selina’s always at her best when she’s fighting villains who work more behind the scenes than they do up front and on the streets. Raina’s backstory also comes paired with one of the smartest decisions the book makes – having Fernando Blanco step in for art duties and illustrate those pages, with colors by John Kalisz. It gives a different visual cue to the book, with Blanco’s softer lines and Kalisz’s color palette interestingly opposing the darkness of the flashback vignettes.
For her part, Jones continues to stun and thrill with her artwork. There are some panels early on that seem to draw on a sort of art deco Erté-esque influence that works beautifully for the world that Jones is building, and for Selina herself. Jones imbues Selina with a strong body language – self-aware, capable, tough, sexy in a way that is to inspire awe, not titillate. Her portrayal of Selina’s fighting – scrappy, urgent – is fantastic, as are the later panels where Selina is rushing across Villa Hermosa’s rooftops, making her way to her sister. Those four captionless, dialogueless pages help build the mystery to see what appointment it is that Selina has to keep, and the twist that it is Maggie pays off beautifully.
Another solid issue that answers some questions while bringing up many more, this is a title that continues to keep you on your toes. This issue comes highly recommended.
Catwoman #3: The Cats Are Out of Their Bags
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 10/1010/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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