Catwoman #8 // Review
Selina Kyle has been drawn into an encounter with the Penguin. They have a history. Normally she would be unlikely to do any sort of favor for him, but when he makes an offer she can’t refuse, she has to head off to steal a rather important artifact for him in the eighth issue of writer Joëlle Jones’ Catwoman. Art is handled by Elena Casagrande with Fernando Blanco. Color is handled by John Kalisz. The creative team finds some equilibrium in a physically dynamic issue that coaxes Catwoman into the supernatural.
The Penguin requests the Catwoman steal an artifact for him. It’s a reliquary that might not be all that difficult to steal for one of the world’s most accomplished thieves, but the item itself is the least of Selina’s problems as she finds herself face to face with strange, blue ghoul-like creatures and a guardian perfectly willing to kill her in order to protect the item.
Jones’ story this issue doesn’t feel particularly strong this issue with respect to the plot or character development, but it’s a solid story. Her pacing in this issue creeps along through moody exposition in the first few pages before launching into high-impact physical action for the bulk of the issue. There’s slow, moody launch into action that careens into a stop with plenty of bits of mystery in and around the corners to keep it all engaging. Jones gives the. artists a great deal of room to work on what is largely an action-based issue. She could have tried to go for a more flashy style of dialogue. There could have been more of a sense of the heroic defiance in Catwoman’s dialogue, but Kyle takes a step back from the detail this issue to allow the art team to do a remarkable job delivering the plot to the page.
Elena Casagrande with Fernando Blanco competently carve a shadowy drama into the beginning and ends of an issue that holds much more visual impact in kinetic action than it does in face-to-face dialogue. This isn’t really much of a problem as so much of the issue IS physical action. Casagrande and Blanco have a really sharp, intuitive sense of the way that Catwoman moves. Not only does it seem graceful...it seems distinctly catlike. At one points she leaps several floors down a stairwell to a black and white checkerboard tile floor. The curious caution in her movements feel very carefully drawn from a cat’s posture. Vicious, swift combat towards issue’s end gracefully slices out through three consecutive pages without dialogue, caption or sound effects.
There are a lot of splattery-looking ink spots in the shadowy darkness of combat which don’t leave a whole lot of space for Kalisz to work with color, but there are a few haunting moments enhanced by his efforts. Of particular note is the sea of blue that Catwoman encounters in the army of zombie-like ghouls lurking in the building she’s breaking into. The muted dullish blue is mixed with splatterings of red in the darkness. Without much lighting, the three--page dive to steal the reliquary might have looked flat and disinteresting with Catwoman’s acrobatics overpowered by the bright yellow rumble of the monsters’ roars and growls.
The heroic thief is a difficult balance to meet strike in any adventure. Lending a seemingly indomitable hero with an authentic level of vulnerability can be equally difficult--especially when her name is written on the cover of the issue. Between Jones’ pacing and the art team’s careful framing of Catwoman’s adventure in this issue, they’ve come really close to casting her as an endearingly heroic AND vulnerable hero in this issue. It’ll be interesting to see where Jones and company take her next.