Selina Kyle gets a big makeover.
Warning: this review contains some spoilers for Batman #50!
More than most members of the Batman family, Selina Kyle seems to invite major status quo changes. There was the time she embraced her family heritage and became head of the Falcone crime family. Or what about when she became a mother and passed the Catwoman mantle to Holly Robinson? One might think the fallout of Batman #50 would usher in another dramatically different era for Selina Kyle. But if anything, it’s surprising how much this series seems to be resorting to business as usual.
For all that has changed in Selina’s world, from her breakup with Bruce to her change in scenery to her new costume, there’s a lot about this first issue that feels strangely familiar. Writer/artist only rarely addresses Selina’s thoughts on leaving Bruce in an overt way. Trim that material from the script and you have a Catwoman comic that could be taking place at pretty much any point in her costumed career. It seems a bit strange to launch a new series on the very same day as Batman #50 and not focus more on the fallout of their disastrous wedding.
Granted, there’s nothing inherently wrong with trying to create some distance between a spinoff comic and its source. It’s not as though Catwoman needs to be defined by her relationship to Batman. The real problem is that Selina simply isn’t as compelling here as she has been in King’s Batman these past two years. The lack of emphasis on the wedding drama means that Jones relies more on familiar tropes – stolen superhero identities, brushes with the law, etc. None of this makes for a particularly compelling catalyst for a new book. Nor does the jumbled narrative structure do much to spice up the three individual stories playing out on the page. Jones’ new main villain is intriguing, but more from a grotesque visual perspective than because of her motivations or desires.
The art truly is the selling point with this series. Given Jones’ talent for blending the allure of pinup-worthy figures with a seedy, sinister crime aesthetic, Catwoman is basically the ideal DC assignment for her. Jones’ figure work is as gorgeous as ever. Panel after panel features Selina in an array of striking poses and soaring through the buildings of Villa Hermosa. The new costume adds an extra touch of Batman Returns-inspired sex appeal to the book.
Colorist Laura Allred brings an unusual flavor to Jones’ pages, creating a look that’s very distinctive from Jones’ recent Batman issues. The colors create a stark, high-contrast quality that brings to mind nothing if not the iconic ’80s pop art of Patrick Nagel. In general, there’s a lot of nice interplay between light and shadow here. One page features a gorgeous shot of Selina in silhouette walking down a poorly lit street. This book is a visual stunner, and it’s a shame the story doesn’t measure up right now.