Graphic Novel Reviews: Catwoman 001-007

Yes, yes, we’ve all heard it. Catwoman has costumed, angry sex with Batman at the end of the first issue. I’d rather Judd Winick had not decided to start off the new series like that, since I was quite a fan of Batman and Catwoman’s relationship before the reboot. Seeing the two of them having sex when all their past history has been erased just doesn’t sit well with me. It’s sensationalism, and it certainly drew attention to the book. So, job well done I guess? Unless of course you wanted to see Batman and Catwoman bumping uglies. So…all of the internet then?

The sex scene would be a much bigger deal if the rest of the book sucked. At that point, Winick resorting to the lowest common denominator so early would reveal the book as a shallowly written piece of garbage. The problem is that the rest of the book, ignoring the occasional risque moment, is actually pretty good. While it is clear that Batman knows Catwoman’s secret identity, she does not know his. So in a way we get to have the fun of them building their relationship up again. Yay?

So we’ve been half Quesadaed. Romance-wise Batman starts off at square one again. But he’d need to have a brand new romantic interest no-one cared about for it to be a full Quesada. Oh who am I kidding, we all know the expendable romantic interests are on their way.

The issues themselves lack a concrete overarching plot. Essentially the story is Catwoman stealing something valuable, getting revenge on people that harmed her in the past, and sexing Batman. Each issue ends with her in ever increasing dire circumstances. This continues until she finds her friend murdered by a villain she stole from, at which point Selina finds herself involved in dirty cop money and hunted by the gotham police.

The main draw for this book is Catwoman herself, she’s clearly a broken character, whose personality flaws are the sole reason she can’t live a normal life. She’s not just a thief, she’s a thrill seeker. Which explains her proclivity for banging Batman, since what could be more thrilling than sexing up the world’s greatest bat themed detective?

Selina clearly can’t help herself. No matter how many people die because of her mistakes, she keeps going back to breaking the law for thrills. While this doesn’t make her the thief with a heart of gold anti-hero from her last series, it does help place her back in the role of a Batman villain. Something that hasn’t been done in years.

While I do like Catwoman as a reluctant hero, it is nice to see that care has been taken to make her more like the other super villains Batman faced. Rather than just being a thief with a strange outfit, Selina now has a clear mental problem, something all Batman villains share with each other. I have no doubt that she will slowly make her way back towards being more heroic, and I expect it to be quite the experience.

The book’s biggest strength, and weakness, is that every issue ends with a cliffhanger that leaves the reader clamoring for more. Where this becomes a problem is that the resolution at the beginning of the next issue is never as satisfying as it should be. After around five or six issues of this it’s less clamoring, and more a half hearted shrug.

The story has an underlying thread, sort of, but it’s not something I’m looking forward to. The one-good-cop-in-gotham character, like all other non-established characters, reeks of expendability. I can tell we’re meant to eventually start caring about him. But I can’t be bothered to, because I know he won’t be sticking around very long.
I would have to say that the series peaked at the issue where Catwoman went after the villain who murdered her friend. I can’t remember his name, because he doesn’t show up again, and he’s really just what you’d get if the Black Skull stuck his head in a bucket of whitewash. Up to this point the issues connected well despite the lack of any overarching thread. But recent issues haven’t quite bought me. The “How will Catwoman get out of this!?” doesn’t really work anymore when it happens every issue, without better reasons to continue reading.

While the erratic jumping around of the plot suits Catwoman’s equally erratic personality, the lack of an overarching plot is hurting the book. Relying on a cliffhanger to grab the reader back for the next issue is sloppy writing, especially when the payoff continues to be underwhelming. We need more to justify the three dollar purchase every month. I would say sit back and enjoy the ride, and that’s why I’m continuing to read the series. But unless I have a good reason to be invested in a book, then it’s at the top of my list of books to be cut when finances are tight.

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