Raina Creel, accompanied by Detective Yilmaz, comes to meet an exotic looking woman who is going to sell her an elixir. The woman doesn't care what happens to Raina after, as long as she gets her money. Raina notices an object behind the woman – the Reliquary - and asks if that's the source of the item, and implies that she wants to buy it, but the mysterious woman tells her that the Reliquary’s not for sale - the price of owning the object would be too high even for Raina.
Penguin tells Selina that he will pay her handsomely for an object he wants - he knows that she can't resist a challenge in obtaining the unobtainable. To convince her further, he explains that he has a note from Holly Robinson for her. Holly being one of Selina's vulnerabilities, she takes the job...and soon finds herself fighting a deteriorating, mummy-like creature that makes even Raina Creel seem pulled together and fresh-faced. She finds herself in a building full of those humanoid creatures...and we soon realize why. The item that Penguin is after is the same Reliquary that Raina Creel seemed enchanted by. The mysterious woman then looms over Selina and warns her that she wouldn't take the object if she were here.
At the Creel Mansion, Raymond comes to visit his mother. Yilmaz is still with her, and Raina brings him to a coffin where his younger brother Adam is laying, dead after the events of a few issues ago. Raymond realizes that Raina wants to do and tries to fight her on it, but a determined mother trying to right her own wrongs is never someone you can win against. Raina uses the elixir to bring her younger son back to life.
Back at her lair, the mysterious woman explains that she's a custodian to the object Selina is trying to steal - an object which contains a map that only causes mischief and sorrow for those trying to change their fate. Selina tells her to take a break from custodianship, and the woman warns her that the object like this one never comes free of payment or consequence. The woman fight and, as she is wont to do, Selina eventually wins and absconds with the object...only to find herself surrounded with men who are pointing guns at her, and Penguin, who tells her that he knew she'd get the job done, but she wouldn't want him to leave Villa Hermosa without a souvenir, would she? Said souvenir most likely being Selina herself.
Though this is an issue with plenty of pages which are either light or entirely barren of dialogue – a narrative style which Joelle Jones seems to favour, which makes sense, given that she’s also an artist – there’s a lot of development that occurs which keeps the momentum of the story going forward. One of the more interesting developments in the story is the fact that Jones is introducing necromancy into the proceedings – until now, Raina has basically been a simple human villain, using drugs as her choice of power and weapon. Allowing the woman access to some necromancy will have some very interesting implications and twists moving forward – how Adam will take to the elixir, how it will affect the rest of the family, remains to be seen. It’s also not clear why Penguin would be after the Reliquary that the elixir comes from, but it’s possible that he wants it for his own son, the villain known as Blacksun, who until now has really been nothing but a disappointment for Oswald.
Having Penguin temporarily outsmart Selina is definitely something that he’s going to end up paying for in the long run. So far in this run, Selina’s been shown to be a scrappy survivor, and though Penguin may have the upper hand for now, that’s not a situation that’s going to last very long. Using Holly Robinson to manipulate Selina into helping him may have seemed like an intelligent thing to do, but betraying Selina is never a plot mechanic that has worked out well for anyone, villain or hero. How she’s going to get out of this scrape remains to be seen, but it looks like the Reliquary may cause Penguin’s path to cross with Raina Creel’s, a showdown or team up that could be very interesting.
Elena Casagrande and Fernando Blanco’s art here is smooth and detailed, easy to follow. Selina’s action scenes are done well – important because there’s a handful of pages where there’s not much dialogue as Selina fights her way through the custodian’s house, and also because of Selina’s own fight with the custodian. The undead creatures don’t really bring anything new to the table, but they don’t know – they’ve got all the right visual cues to let us know that they’re somehow magically alive, and enough of a threat that Selina’s going to have something of a fight up against her. While her Raina Creel isn’t as terrifying to look at as Jones’ version of her is, she’s still unnerving enough, and the art team does a great job at giving expressiveness to a woman who’s missing big, important parts of her face. John Kalisz’s colors here are great too – flat and moody, but bright when the custodian comes onto the scene, which is fitting, considering she’s meant to be a little otherworldly.
A solid, entertaining, putting-the-players-in-place issue, this story continues to flesh out Selina's world in new and interesting ways.
Catwoman #8: Reliquary Raider
Writing - 7/107/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 8/108/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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