Selina Kyle, after having dynamically un-duoed from Bruce Wayne, finds herself in Villa Hermosa, living a nocturnal life, laying low and trying to forget her recent past…until she runs into a copycat who changes everything!
Story and Art: Joëlle Jones
Colorist: Laura Allred
Lettering: Joshua Reed
Cover: Jones & Allred
Variant Cover: Stanley “Artgerm” Lau
Associate Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Jamie S. Rich
What You Need to Know:
Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne – Catwoman and Batman – were engaged to be married after a very long on-again-off-again courtship, but Selina left Bruce at the altar, sacrificing her love so that Bruce could continue to be Batman.
What You’ll Find Out:
After having left Bruce Wayne at the altar, Selina Kyle has done what anyone who has suffered through a bad break-up would do – she’s left town to ignore the repercussions of the break-up and distract herself. Unable to sleep for all the wrong reasons, Selina finds herself at some of Villa Hermosa’s mahjong establishments, wiling the nights away. Unbeknownst to her, there is a literal Copycatwoman running around town, stealing things and killing police officers.
Selina, this time an innocent, leaves one mahjong establishment for another, noting that she has two hours to kill before the second establishment opens. Unfortunately for Selina, her reputation as Catwoman has far preceded her, and officers of the Villa Hermosa Police Department have caught up with her to arrest her for her supposed crimes. Selina, always quick on her feet, fights off the police and leads them on a short chase through the city, disappearing onto a subway train and leaving the police far behind.
Meanwhile, Raina Creel, the wife of the Governor of Villa Hermosa, is giving an interview to KTVH 8, discussing how some of the press coverage she has gotten lately has been less than great, and how she was unprepared for much of it. Dressed in pink and pearls, with a perfectly coiffed blonde bob, she explains that she likes to bring people up, giving out hope and moral values and that she hopes that people start looking at what she is really doing for the community. After the interview, where Raina is revealed to be the real power behind Governer Creel as her staff fills her in on the upcoming appointments and things she has to work on in the coming hours at days, including a blood transfusion and some necessary injections. While the personality she portrays is clearly different than the one she possesses in her private life, the reader is also shown that her physical form is portrayed very differently to the public. As her staff talks to her, Raina takes her face off – literally. Wig, eyelashes, dentures, and nose, revealing a woman who has started to decay quite heavily, illustrating why she needs those injections and blood transfusions. A life in politics does corrupt, after all.
Raina sends for her sons, who are very apologetic about what went wrong with the Copycatwoman, when Raina tells them to allow the girl to speak for herself. The Copycatwoman, who definitively reveals herself to not be Selina Kyle when she pulls her cowl off, cops to having messed up – she had been given clear instructions not to harm anyone – but in her defense, it had been crazy out there.
While the Copycatwoman explains herself to Raina, Sam – one of the cops who had tried to apprehend Selina earlier that evening – and another cop named Will are at the scene of the Copycatwoman’s crime, watching as an officer named Simmons surveys the murdered cops. Will is close to the case, having been in the academy with one of the felled officers, and though Sam warns Will to stay out of this, Will clearly won’t be able to.
Selina heads back to her new hideaway, a storage unit in the upper area of a pawnshop. There, the reader is introduced to two of her new friends, Carlos – who is busy playing video games – and Linda, an elderly woman who hands Selina a package that had just arrived for her. Selina heads to her storage unit hideaway and turns on the news, listening to them discussing the murders that are being blamed on her. Selina opens the package to find a note from Alfred, explaining that he forwarded along some of her belongings, feeling that they might be missed by her. Those belongings? Selina’s Catwoman costume, which she hurls across the room in a fit of sadness and fury. Angry at a world that can’t seem to leave her alone, Selina slips on a new costume and slips out into the night to hunt for this Copycatwoman.
Selina follows a helicopter to a rooftop and finds the imposter, who she fights with, knocking a gun out of her hands first. Catwoman – the real one – doesn’t use guns, after all. The amateur manages to get away from Selina, but Selina gives chase across the rooftops of Villa Hermosa, finally catching up the Copycatwoman…and a room filled with a dozen other imposter Catwomen.
What Just Happened?:
That is the question that most comics fans have been asking themselves since that now-infamous New York Times story hit on Sunday morning. In terms of this debut issue of Catwoman, though, quite a bit! First things first, this reviewer had never expected the Bat/Cat wedding to actually go off, especially since Selina’s latest solo outing was debuting on Independence Day. While a lot of fans are likely to avoid this issue because of anger at the outcome of Batman #50, I would strongly recommend against that because this is an absolutely beautiful, well-written issue. Jones’ handling of Selina is excellent – she very clearly loves and understands the character and her motivations, what drives her, what hurts her, what makes her tick. Selina going off on a path of destruction in a foreign city is exactly the sort of thing that Selina would do, and very much the sort of thing she’s done before, in stories such as Selina’s Big Score. The difference here is that for once Selina is trying to lay low, but between Alfred’s surprise parcel and the Copycatwoman, the universe simply won’t let her. How Jones handles Selina’s grief when she opens that package, though, and her resulting escape into the night to hunt for the imposter is very well-written and just beautifully illustrated.
Raina Creel is a fascinating, creepy new villain, and the panels where we’re shown her stripping away her façade is both done extremely well and also extremely settling. This first issue has many callbacks to many different incarnations of Catwoman, and Creel almost seems like a deliberate antithesis to Sharon Stone’s Laurel Hedare from the 2004 Catwoman movie – a powerful woman who is calling the shots and whose body is wasting away, compared to the Hedare character, whose skin was made tough by the beauty cream she produced, but otherwise possessed far less power. There also seem to be some shades of Batman villain Jane Doe to the character, and at first, I believed that Creel may have been Jane Doe, though the blood transfusions and injections suggest that the two characters are separate. We don’t yet know why Raina has employed the false Catwoman – or indeed why there are dozens of them – but finding out will definitely be an interesting ride.
As mentioned earlier, there are many visual cues and shout-outs to various past incarnations of Catwoman in this first issue, some of which work extremely well. For example, the panel where Selina is shown staring at the helicopter, with the back of her cowled head facing the viewer is a clear shoutout to the end of Batman Returns, where Catwoman is shown to be alive and well, staring out at the moon. Indeed, elements of Selina’s costume are a shoutout to Michelle Pfieffer’s Catwoman, including the corset she has as part of her costume, though the cold armpit cutouts are something new and different. On the whole, it’s a sexy costume, something a little less functional than the look she’s sported for over the past decade, but it’s not as ludicrous as the Halle Berry costume, thankfully. The goggles are missing, and it’s something of a welcome change because Selina has certainly been long overdue for a new look. If there is one thing the costume could do without, though, it’s probably the giant hoop across the front. There’s something distracting and incongruent about that element, but beyond that, it truly is a visually appealing costume. Modern, and sexy, but in an unexpected way.
Jones’ layouts are stunning, but that’s no surprise because she’s always been a dynamic artist. The beginning few pages, though, with the three different narratives of the Copycatwoman, Selina Kyle, and Raina Creed, are expertly shown, and Selina’s chase scene with the police is absolutely alive and dynamic. Laura Allred provides a beautiful color palette to the book – bright, almost tawdry colors at places like the mahjong establishment that Selina is at, and dark, moody pastels throughout the rest of the book. It’s a stunning palette – dark without being dark, appropriately bright at the right places, and setting the mood just perfectly. There’s something about the art here that suggests that this run will be as iconic as the Jim Balent art and the Darwyn Cooke art of the second and third Catwoman series. Sure, one series was hypersexualized, and the other went in an old-school noir direction – here the art is sexy, dynamic, and given a sort of realism that only Jones can provide.
Final Thoughts: Striking the right balance of drama, action, and pathos, this is the Catwoman book that fans have been waiting for – if only fans can get past the events of Batman #50 to give this book a chance.
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