Writer: Genevieve Valentine
Artist(s): Garry Brown, Lee Loughridge
So far I’ve largely been successful at avoiding the New52 as much as possible because, I don’t know, I tend to squirm watching the things I love die horrible, gruesome deaths. However, with a new creative team and Halloween just recently passed I figured as the resident BNP Catwoman expert it couldn’t hurt to treat myself to Catwoman #35. Call me curious (yes, I just did that). After all, isn’t the purpose of a shake up in artistic direction to attract new readers?
Spoilers: if you were looking for any actual Catwoman action in this book, you’re going to be disappointed, although Selina does show off her whip skills against a group of thugs while in a business suit (above), so I guess you take what you can get. At this point in our story Selina Kyle has discovered she is actually the heir to one of Gotham’s big crime families, the Calabreses, wielding her impressive new ties as crime kingpin with the intention to clean up her city one operation at a time, including disappearing an entire shipment of weapons. So… basically what Bruce could have been doing with all of his money and business savvy if he wasn’t too busy running around being the night. The result is a Selina who displays a ruthlessly strategic cunning that is rarely, if ever, shown on panel.
Speaking of Bruce, there’s one interesting conversation in this issue where Batman shows up at a party for a diamond unveiling and tries to argue with Selina about how she doesn’t know what she’s doing, she doesn’t belong there, and Selina calls him the hell out. Personally I find it hilarious that Selina is actually bored because of these particular diamonds, lest thinking of stealing them, and yet she still manages to receive the customary Bat Lecture™. Some things never change.
Overall I’d say it’s not bad, just mostly… okay. I found myself enjoying the rough, woodblockiness of Brown’s artwork even though it competes with these bland teal, peach, and lavender background washes (I chose the variant cover up top because it’s much more dynamic than the original). As for Catwoman-as-Kingpin, I’ve read a lot of optimistic comments that claim it’s refreshing to see Selina have to tackle problems more intelligently, especially in comparison to previous issues, but I think that the consistent draws of Selina’s character are her self-interest, wit, and confidence, and I failed to find those here. However, I am excited by the fact that longtime nemesis Black Mask show up towards the end, so I’d be willing to stick around to see how these high stakes pan out once Selina finally manages to find her footing.