Catwoman presents a stylish and moody, yet dangerous neo-noir version of Gotham City while continuing to build a life for Selina Kyle that is just outside the world of Batman. Blanco and Bellaire are their own dynamic duo as they breathe gorgeous life into the world they are building.
Often when there are books that happen to fall under the same umbrella from a publishing line, especially those that share a similar setting, like one particular city. It can be hard to make sure they fully stand together and apart from one another at the same time. This is even more true when the books one is referring to are part of the Batman line and call Gotham City their home. What makes a line work the best is if each of those titles has its own hook or flavor. This relatively simple, yet complex, idea is part of why Catwoman is one of the most consistently great books on the shelves.
Ram V, Fernando Blanco, Jordie Bellaire, and Tom Napolitano have crafted a truly neo-noir crime thriller of a book that places Selina Kyle into a dangerous world of her own that only tangentially touches that of Batman/Bruce Wayne. This is mentioned in the story that her desires to just run Alleytown are somewhat thwarted by events that she’s drawn into that are closer to the world that Batman inhabits than the crime world she lives in. Despite the break the two are taking in their romance and lives together, she still feels compelled to tackle these events because it’s who she is even if she doesn’t fully want it to be.
Every piece of narration or dialogue feels perfectly necessary to the overall story that is being built through this series. Nothing is out of place or feels extraneous, it’s a fully planned and intriguing journey. This is no surprise as Ram V continues to grow his portfolio both at DC Comics and elsewhere with a great stable of well-written books that never feel similar to each other.
While Ram V continues to fully understand Selina Kyle and comes up with ways to breathe new and strange life into the streets of Gotham, like Poison Ivy used to make drugs or the enigmatic assassin Father Valley or the other blinking out of sight Wight Witch from the last issue, the beautiful and stylized artwork makes things even more memorable. Blanco and Bellaire are doing some wonderful things here, whether it’s simple establishing shots full of so much detail or moody rain-filled pages or the green-tinged double spread page of Riddler’s memories. Gotham, or at least the Alleytown and other portions that Selina calls home, feels like a living breathing city thanks to the life that they breathe into every single page.
That’s not even getting into the wonderous way that they play with the shadows and light in various scenes, from the Penguin/Father Valley confrontation to Selina getting ready for ‘work’ sequence, as well as Bellaire’s masterful use of different colors to bring focus to certain moments. Like the aforementioned Father Valley pages, allowing bright dark reds to dominate the small panels within the overall panel which drives home the brutality that the man unleashes.
Napolitano’s lettering adds to these feelings, easily morphing to fit the mood of each page, whether it’s something more sedate or more visceral in the previously mentioned brutal fight scenes. Even simple things like Catwoman’s whip grabbing onto a post for swinging or breaking through a window or Penguin snapping, are elevated by the lettering. We know what is happening in most of those cases thanks to the visuals on the page, but great lettering adds to it all as it makes you feel/hear the action rather than just see it.
Gotham City is in the best of hands across the line lately, especially in this series.
Catwoman #30 is now on sale from DC Comics in print and digitally.