A priceless artifact has turned up in Gotham City… Looks like a job for Selina Kyle! Unfortunately, the mysterious False Face Society has other plans. Your Major Spoilers review of Catwoman #51 awaits!
Previously in Catwoman: “The Faceless Mask is an ancient and essential part of the history of the False Face Society… as well as the history of both Gotham City and Selina Kyle! So when the artifact resurfaces in the present day after countless generations, will a piece of Catwoman’s past long believed to be gone return with it?”
A MYSTERIOUS ARTIFACT
It’s been a while since I’ve picked up an issue of Catwoman, so I really appreciate how well the opening pages of this story drew me in. The issue begins with a newscast giving relevant information about Richard Sionis, the father of Bat-villain Black Mask, detailing what we need to know before throwing us into the latest chapter of Selina’s life. Tieri then gives us two interlocking stories; one with present-day Catwoman tracking down The Faceless Mask, a maybe-mystical totem, the other telling the tale of young Selina and her friend David some years ago, running a credit scam that turns sour on them. It’s well-balanced throughout, and even the odd parts (a huge tent full of masked weirdos in the middle of a cornfield outside Gotham) are odd in a good way, with the final reveal impressive for making me fear Black Mask, never one of the upper-tier Bat-baddies. The use of Black Mask, a new character called White Mask and the False Face society makes the events of this issue feel tense and dangerous for Catwoman, dragging the reader along on her journey.
EXCELLENT SYNTHESIS OF STORY AND ART
Much of the effectiveness, though goes to the art team of Miranda and Bonetti, who make the skull-masked visage of Black Mask utterly terrifying in these pages. All of the False Face Society look eerie and otherworldly, as they should, but the mundane jewelry stores and hospitals seem perfectly normal. I also like the balance of sexy to functional the team gives Catwoman’s “work clothes”, never ignoring the fact that she’s in a skin-tight suit, but making it believable that she has the circulation and range of motion to leap across rooftops. As someone who doesn’t keep a close eye on the workings of Gotham, I enjoyed the fact that this issue didn’t expect me to have read half a dozen other comics in order to enjoy the story being told, but still provided the important exposition during the natural flow of the story. Most impressively, there’s enough mystery maintained that I’m going to have to make sure and pick up #52 to find out how this whole thing wraps up. (Given the impending ‘Rebirth’ event, it would be easy to make these ‘lame-duck’ books throwaways.)
THE BOTTOM LINE: WELL-DONE
In short, it’s a successful comic book, allowing readers to immediately connect with the world and its characters, giving us a compelling mystery, a fun protagonist, and some sinister doings in the shadows, which is always fun. Catwoman #51 is a solid first chapter, with some excellent art (Catwoman sneaking through the Sionis vaults has great lighting and shadow effects) and a perfect pace, earning a very impressive 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this take on Black Mask become the quintessential take for the DCU going forward…