Catwoman Annual #1 // Review
Joëlle Jones uses the extended space of a special 37-page format to tell one of the single best stories of her run with an iconic DC anti-hero in her first Catwoman Annual. The title thief takes on a group of young proteges in a story drawn in turns by Elena Casagrande, Hugo Petrus, and Scott Godlewski. Color is handled throughout the book by Jordie Bellaire. The extended one-shot story works well for Jones, who finds an interesting interview-based framing device that keeps the story quite refreshing throughout the issue. The Joëlle Jones who writes the regular series could learn a lot from the Joëlle Jones who wrote this annual. 'It's solidly better than much of the rest of the regular series thus far.
A tale of Catwoman is told from various perspectives. Each perspective takes the form of raw video interview footage with key players in the story of bloody little multiple homicides in Villa Hermosa. The interviews include a young woman, a couple of police detectives and Selina Kyle. The story involves Kyle taking on several apprentices who all prove to be a bit too wild for her to keep a firm handle on. Things get out of control when Immortal Man shows-up. Before it's all over, Catwoman is going to regret ever taking an interest in a few careless girls.
At its heart, there is very little in Jones' genuinely original story. It's a simple look at what happens when a compelling main character attempts to teach others her trade. Invariably mistakes will occur to help to reveal that which makes the hero something more than a person with superhuman powers and skills. Jones goes. Further than this. The documentary interview footage framing device goes a long way towards presenting a standard hero story in a unique format. 'Jones' real genius here hits the page when 'she's showing Selena Kyle's philosophy of theft. When a group of girls comes together for a party at Selena's place, she tells them what stolen objects mean to her, and it casts a fascinating light into a character who has been around for over half a century. It's clever, clever writing that crawls quite deeply into the psyche of the DC universe's most appealing thief.
It would have been nice to see Jones illustrate this one herself. Or maybe it would have been more interesting to see the artists working on the series laid-out more thoughtfully. As it is, each of the artists takes a few consecutive pages. It has made a bit more sense aesthetically to have one artist handle the panels delivering the interview footage and one artist handling the drama and another artist handling the action. The art is all quite detailed and appealing, and none of the artists' styles clash too heavily with any of the other artists. The shift in style from one artist to the next is never too shocking.
Kyle acts as the leader of a group of apprentice thieves. It's a fun concept. Jones has been placing Kyle out of her comfort zone in exciting ways throughout the series thus far. With this issue, 'she's pushing the character in a direction that feels much more compelling than previous issues in the current series thus far. If Jones can develop more like this in the future, Catwoman could have quite a bit of vitality moving forward.