Catwoman Annual 2021
Father Valley is a mystery. His unusual style as a hit man, his habit of keeping a bible designated for each of his targets, his macabre and particular method of elegant savagery, his insistence on waiting until his target has reached their highest point before he strikes them down—these are all strange and enigmatic traits that have remained unexplained…until now. Bear witness to Father Valley’s past with the Order of St. Dumas, and his unexpected connection with Azrael, to learn the method to of his madness. And see, once and for all, why Catwoman should be deathly afraid of being on his hit list.
This is the penultimate chapter to the big payoff to Ram’s first post-“Joker War” era for Selina, and he gives you all the bang for your buck(s). There’s so much packed into this annual, that I’m almost embarrassed that I dismissed the last issue. Ram is an author of a rare breed who gives you plot, and lots of details that you have that you really have to pay attention to, otherwise it’ll bite you in your knackers. Another thing about Ram is how much characterization he gives his cast. It’s rich, nuanced, and full of personality. This run has made me quite a fan of his. If I see Ram attached to a new project, I’m immediately interested in it.
We’ve got Selina, the issues with Alleytown, the new corrupt land developer who’s out to wipe out the downtrodden Alleytown, and the complete backstory on Father Valley, and his connection to St. Dumas, the religious sect that has ties to Batfamily member Azrael. It seems that Father Valley was a bit of an unrepentant rebel against the Dumas cult, whose life was saved only because of a friend’s sacrifice to send him to America. This sacrifice seems to have really lead to an impact on Father Valley, and he’s tried to repent for his transgressions ever since. It really gives this new character depth, and a well rounded antagonist that would work great with any of the Batfamily characters. This issue jumps from Valley’s past to his present scenes at an electric, breakneck pace, but they’re exquisitely done.
This story, while in a Catwoman book, has very little to do with Selina. The few scenes we do see are full of interactions between Selina and Leo, her ally from Alleytown, who was mercilessly tortured by Valley trying to extract information from him in issue thirty-two. It’s touching, and drenched in emotion. You could feel Selina’s heartbreak in these few moments.
There are three artists attached to this book, and we are graced with three very different artists who let you have it with every scene. Fernando Blanco does the Selina’s scenes, and they evoke every moment that Ram’s script is giving you. They have such a synergistic relationship over the course of their run, and it’s beautiful. Kyle Hotz handles Valley’s past, and it’s full of atmosphere. Like, if you were watching a movie, this would be a very dark, muted scene straight out of a Zack Snyder film. He’s an excellent craftsman, and has evolved light years from where he used to be. Finally we have Juan Ferreyra. Ferreyra is someone rather new on the scene, but his style is instantly recognizable. It’s flush with beauty, as if you’re looking at the world through a Snapchat filter. It’s a style I’ve slowly fallen in love with since his run on Green Arrow. I can’t wait to see where he goes from here.
Father Valley takes center stage in this annual, and Ram V delivers one of the most complex, and storied background in recent memory. This story takes you from the streets of Alleytown, and throws you back in time to Tangier, Morocco, and we see the steps that Valley had to take to make it where he is as one of Gotham’s newest assassins. Devotion, friendship, heartbreak, Ram and the team here give you such a wealth of material to read, you’ll be gasping for more.
Catwoman Annual 2021: Papa Can You Hear Me?
- Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Art - 9.5/109.5/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10
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