In a series of deftly intermingling panels alternatively taking place at the Governor’s Mansion and the Golden State Psychiatric Hospital, Raina Creel murders her husband, Governor Edmond Creel, with a drug called narssistrine, while Selina Kyle stops Dr. Finick from injecting her sister Maggie with possibly the same drug. The drug, in small doses, can be a rush, causing skin to tighten and making one feel invincible, but in large doses, it causes the brain to send messages to attack the skin before the lungs and heart thicken and kill the victim. While Raina gave Edmond a lethal dose, causing him to cut himself with shards of glass from a broken picture from before stabbing himself in the eye and dying, it’s suggested that Maggie was going to get a smaller dose. As Edmond breathes his final breath, Selina discovers from Dr. Finick that Raina Creel is behind his coming to see Maggie.
At the Governor’s Mansion, Raina screams in faux horror after Edmond’s death, alerting her sons Raymond and Adam - as well as security – to her room. At the same time, Dr. Finick’s screaming alerts Detective Sam Yilmaz and the hospital staff to Maggie’s room. Raina claims that Edmond Creel offed himself, and Raymond tries to convince his younger brother to leave the room because he doesn’t need to see any of this. Meanwhile, as Selina fights the staff, Maggie snaps out of her catatonic state just enough to say Selina’s name. It’s enough to distract Selina, allowing the staff and Yilmaz to take her down. Selina is taken by Dr. Finick to the Governor’s Mansion, then, because Raina would like to have a word with her.
After Edmond Creel’s funeral, Raina asks her son Raymond to take some of the narssistrine, in case things get dangerous. Raymond at first doesn’t want to take the drug – he knows its dangerous – but Raina insists that it’s just a precaution, and so Raymond finally relents. Inside the mansion, Selina wakes up after having had a brief dream about Bruce talking to her and realizes that she has been kidnapped by the Creels. Selina, never one to stay down for long, fights back against her captor, who had come to tell her that Raina would be there to see her shortly. She explains that she didn’t want to be involved in what was going on in Villa Hermosa, but no matter what, the Creels wouldn’t leave her alone, and now she’s had enough.
The fifth part of the first arc of Catwoman, this is the first installment that feels something like a filler issue. It’s not that it’s not a well-written, beautifully drawn installment – the team is clearly firing on all cylinders here and the final product is beyond amazing – it’s simply that with the amount of pages the story has, there’s very little that’s done to advance the plot forward. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some advancements, though. Raina finally manages to kill Edmond, a development that’s been in motion for a couple of issues now, and Maggie finally snaps out of her catatonia, even if it’s just for a moment. That latter thread is going to be very interesting moving forward, especially to see how Jones decides to play this incarnation of Maggie. Will she end up somewhat villainous, the way a past version has, or will she be something different? It’ll be fun finding out!
One of the big things that this issue manages to do is highlight the stark difference between Selina and Raina. Selina will fight to protect and save the ones she loves, protecting them from harm, trying her hardest to cure them and pull them away from danger; Raina has no compunctions about killing the ones she proclaims to loves, and even goes as far as traumatizing her children, including trying to force her son to take an addictive, dangerous drug – the same drug that killed his father, in point of fact. They’re markedly different women, one perhaps a little broken on the inside, the other broken both inside and outside, literally falling apart. When they finally come face to face, it’ll be an explosive meeting, especially because Selina has never had any time for bullshit – especially now – and that’s all that Raina seems able to dispense out into the world. Well, besides drugs. (As an aside, as visually inspired by Batman Returns as this Selina seems to be, Raina Creel has some very strong tones of Laurel Hedare from that awful Catwoman movie from the early 2000s. Whether that’s meant to be intentional or not isn’t clear, but it’s an interesting route to take for the character.)
As good as Jones’ writing is – and Selina Kyle feels like a character that Jones was born to write – her art is just as wonderful. She draws fantastic fight scenes – kinetic, brutal, and while she allows Selina to retain a certain sort of sexiness, Selina’s never turned into some sort of brawling sex doll, the way she’s been depicted under other artists. Selina always comes off as a force to be reckoned with. The scenes where Edmond harms himself while he’s overdosing on the drug are also really well done – they’re almost difficult to look at because of how adept Jones is at portraying the pain and agony that he’s going through. Her Raina also continues to be the most disarming character on the page, and Laura Allred’s choice of color plays a huge part there as well, as while Raina’s drawn as a woman who is clearly physically falling apart, the colors that Allred employs on the character are bright and pastel, Sanrio colors against a far darker backdrop. It’s a wildly alluring combination.
Though the weakest link in what's been a strong debut arc so far, Jones sprinkles in some interesting plot seeds that are sure to pay off in the long run.
Catwoman #5: Death and Reawakening
Writing - 8/108/10
Storyline - 7/107/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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