REVIEW: Catwoman Annual #1

by

Or – “I Haven’t Been Keeping Up With This Book At All…”

When the New 52 launched in late 2011, it seemed that all anyone had to say about Catwoman’s ongoing revolved around her sex scene with the big bad Bat.  After nearly 2 years, has Selina Kyle reached the point where she has her own identity?  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

SUMMARY

Pros
Catwoman is no sob sister.
The art has its moments.
Cons

This is just a (barely) pitch-shifted Batman story.
Inconsistent in tone and art-style.

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

READER RATING!

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (3 votes, average: 2.33 out of 5)


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CatwomanAnnual1CoverCATWOMAN ANNUAL #1
Writer: Ann Nocenti
Artist(s): Christin Duce with Aaron Lopresti & John Livesay
Colorist(s): Andrew Dalhouse with Matt Yackey
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Editor: Rachel Gluckstern
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99

Previously in Catwoman:  After many years as cat-burglar and regular Batman frenemy, Catwoman has come into her own in the New 52, consummating her relationship with Batman, rejuvenated her career as sneak thief extraordinaire, and even been elected to membership in the Justice League of America.  But can she deal with an all-out war with Gotham’s most well-dressed little psychopath, The Penguin?


MURDER, MOST FOWL.

We open in the darkened streets of Gotham, where mysterious drones have been murdering innocent (if there is such a thing) citizens of the city.  While two detectives of the GCPD track down their main suspect, Catwoman, the real murderer has targeted her as well.  The first quarter or so of the issue is bothersome in art for me, with a tiny-headed HUGE-breasted Catwoman, figure, but by the time we find out that she has bugged police headquarters, the art has shifted to an entirely different style.  A quick check of the credits indicates three separate pencillers on the book, each of whom has slight differences in style, but moreover, they give us a Catwoman whose uniform not only differs, but whose figure and proportions change radically throughout the issue as well.  Still, two out of the three artists do strong work in this issue, which helps to offset the blow of the inconsistency.  Penguin, in particular, is a creepy presence throughout the book, and his fascination with the animal kingdom makes his dialogue interesting as well.

BULLOCK’S BACK!

Sadly, not everyone gets the same benefit, as Catwoman spends a great deal of time evading drones that are keyed to her body shape, throwing out bon mot after bon mot about how she uses her body to confuse men all the time.  It’s very clunky stuff, none of which delivers the intended punch of making her seem like a hard-edged woman, instead coming off as juvenile to my ear.  As the issue goes on, we meet more and more of Penguin’s goons, each of whom seems to have their own gimmick and name, while Catwoman ends up working with a tech wizard who is the very definition of steampunk.  The issue clearly picks up on events in the regular ongoing, and ends in media res, with half a dozen plotlines in play that are obviously designed to transition into Selina’s second year of solo stories.  While I can’t fault an annual issue for being tied to the series it’s annualizing (presuming that’s even a word), this issue reads like chapters 3-9 of an ongoing narrative, without much reason to appear on its own as a single story.  Given the length, and the multiple artists, I can’t help but wonder if this wasn’t actually created as three separate chapters of the Catwoman book…

THE BOTTOM LINE: REALLY NOT MY BAG, BABY…

All in all, this issue feels very routine, a standard outing for a bat-book, with some good art on board, and very little that makes me want to love the current Catwoman direction.  Selena has some interesting moments confronting the Penguin (honestly, if there were more such scenes in the issue, would have merited a higher score) but spends entirely too much time openly stating her beliefs and plans rather than acting on them.  Catwoman Annual #1 isn’t a bad issue, but it doesn’t stand out as unique in either art or script, falling entirely within the dotted lines of  a standard Gotham City tale, earning a just-below-average 2 out of 5 stars overall.  While it’s good to see her as a solo operator facing down heavy hitters, I just wish there had been a bit more grace to it all…

Rating: ★★☆☆☆