Catwoman continues to stand out at a time when the entirety of the Gotham line of books is at the top of their game, with a moody stylistic flare mixed with noir heist elements and realistic deep character-driven moments. Every single moment and panel is placed with deliberate intent that services the book’s overall plots while also enhancing the overall plot that runs through the entire line of books. This creative team is hitting it out of the park over and over again, with no signs that they can or will be slowed down in any way.
Sometimes there are things that are just so consistently good that finding the words to convey this fact can be quite a journey all on its own. Catwoman as a series right now fits right into this space as each issue of the current run just continues to fire on all cylinders for one of the best runs that Selina Kyle has ever had.
As mentioned in the last review, Ram V, Fernando Blanco, Jordie Bellaire, and Tom Napolitano are delivering a truly neo-noir action and character-packed series. Despite each issue following the ongoing story of Selina’s battle to keep her people safe and keep control in Alleytown, they all have their very own flavor alongside the aforementioned neo-noir aspect.
This issue leans heavily on theatricality and the idea of misdirection, as it skips right over the party that Selina arrived at last issue and throws the audience right into the action. The rescue of Ivy is over and a shot and seemingly trapped Selina must regale the audience and the party’s host with how she pulled off said rescue. Starting a heist story after the actual heist with flashbacks and “verbal” sleight of hand filling in the gaps is one of the really engaging ways to do a heist story.
There is an energetic and almost frantic non-stop pace to the issue, in the best way possible. Every piece slides together as our view of this overall puzzle becomes more and more clear with each issue. Despite so many of these characters being new or unfamiliar (though one of Selina’s crew was revealed to be a familiar legacy face returned in the recent DC Festival of Heroes: The Asian Superhero Celebration one-shot) they as well as the area of Gotham they reside within feel so deep and fleshed out already.
Blanco, Bellaire, and Napolitano are a trio that hit the ground running and has found their stride easily, as their beautiful stylized take on Selina’s world continues. How Bellaire plays with color palettes is especially intriguing. The same scene can shift from brighter yellows to color blues depending on whether the focus is the gunfire or the hand-to-hand fight scenes before splashes of green dominate Ivy scenes or the party scenes take the brightness up quite a few notches.
Reds are once again mostly saved for the small little panels within panels where some of the most dangerous or brutal moments are highlighted by such bright reds. Making them stand out even more and drawing attention just like they want them to.
This is all sold even more with the bold and in-your-face SFX lettering that makes every scene even more energetic and true. There are two pretty bold moments where the SFX takes center stage and makes the scenes in the panel hit as hard as they should with the shocking things that happen.
Speaking of mysteries and built upon plots, this series is doing its’ own thing while wonderfully playing within the sandbox that all the other Gotham/Bat-books are currently. With Simon Saint’s plans and growth being dealt with across the line, and even some mysteries about Poison Ivy’s status seemingly being hinted at within other books too. It’s really heartening to see the books playing well together and being able to build their own puzzles while also contributing pieces to the overall puzzle for the whole line.
Catwoman #31 is now on sale from DC Comics in print and digitally.