A Complication Called Family: Reviewing ‘Catwoman’ #45
by Scott Redmond
Things in Gotham are petty darn good these days across the variety of titles, one of the books at the top is ‘Catwoman’ which continues its couple of years reign as one of the best books that DC Comics has been putting on shelves. It’s gorgeous, sexy, fun, emotional, full of wild slick action, deep character moments and development, and just a whole lot of comic book goodness.
When it comes to the longest established comic publishers and their decades-long ongoing stories, there are a handful of lines with characters that interact regularly but amongst them, there are even fewer that could truly be referred to as a family. Over at DC, the various vigilantes and anti-heroes and others that are allied with Batman are truly a family.
Sometimes though family isn’t always helpful, no matter how much you care for them.
I truly appreciate that Tini Howard took the time here to not only reconnect Catwoman with the various young heroes of the family that she is on and off part of but to also use that to connect to what is happening in other books. Sometimes even when they are in the same line, there is very little that connects the series as their stories are happening with little reference to others. We get so many great interactions here between Selina and Robin, the Batgirls, Dick Grayson/Nightwing, and a deeper look at her growing relationship with Valmont. At the same time, we see references to moments happening in other books such as Batman #125 (we see Batman’s side of the conversation) and Batgirls #8.
These types of moments to me, solidify that these are connected stories and that these characters are family or teams or just have connections. As noble as the Batgirls and Nightwing and Robin want to be, that’s not who Catwoman needs right now with the organized crime issues she is juggling. Having Dick be the heart that he always is and reaching out to her about her still having family and that they don’t hold any hard feelings against her for things not working out with Bruce was such a sweet and needed moment. Most of that has gone unsaid or unreferenced since Bruce and Selina decided to go on a break quite a while ago publishing timeline-wise.
Having Sam Barsi and Vincente Cifuentes hope over from their recent work in Aquamen to join Jordie Bellaire brings such a great slick and smooth and fun look to this issue. One of the things I really appreciate about Barsi’s work is the way panels are used, giving us a lot of close-ups mixed with wider shots and really making sure that the emotional or character moments hit even harder. This is a heavy character and emotional issue with some action sprinkled in, and it just works. Cifuentes inking just accentuates all of this bringing great depth and weight to everything, helping it hit all the right notes.
Bellaire is just hands down one of the best colorists working, with just a perfect ability to shift her colors to match the energy and feel of any artist’s work without losing any of the signature bits of her work. In the previous issues, those colors were bright but were muted and were less slick to fit the work of Bengal, and here they take on a much slicker feeling with the colors popping more but also maintaining a more grounded middle space for many of the night/city scenes in play. Yet all the usual hallmarks of bright splashes of specific colors as backgrounds or to highlight certain characters (whose energy or costume/logo fit such a color) are there as they always are with her work.
One of the most stalwart members of the Catwoman creative team is Tom Napolitano, who has been here through the previous run into this one. This is a great thing to see always because Napolitano’s lettering work is just some of the best around, and it flows so smoothly and brings so much energy to the entire affair. From simple things like making volume and tone and emphasis very clear with how the font is treated (bigger, smaller, different font, etc) to the overall framing of any lettering on the page to the always right there in the moment powerful SFX that pop up to really bring things home.
Lettering is one of those things that many, like myself in the past, take for granted but when you get to really take in and look at what it does to a book it can change minds so much. Since starting reviews it’s an element that I have come to understand but also appreciate so much more, and folks like Napolitano deserve far more credit for the amazing work that they do.
Catwoman #45 is now available from DC Comics