Catwoman #12 // Review
A thief has successfully...come into possession...of a valuable artifact. It has a value that she doesn’t completely understand until she consults an expert who gives her information that catapults her into danger in the 12th issue of Catwoman. Writer Joëlle Jones’ plot thickens in an issue with alternating art by Fernando Blanco and Hugo Petrus. Color comes to the page courtesy of John Kalisz. Jones advances the plot while developing characters in an issue that balances drama, action, and mystery. There are brief traces of inconsistency as the talents of writer and artists occasionally bump into each other in an otherwise satisfying issue.
Catwoman and her accomplice are on the run from the police. They’re not exactly inconspicuous. They’re driving along in a squad car. Later on, they’re able to take a closer look at what they’ve got, its an artifact which turns out to be half of an antique map of some sort. There’s an ancient mask which originally rested within the object. Only by reuniting the artifact with its mask can the path be revealed. It’s not going to be easy to make off with the mask as it is being put up for auction at a place with a great deal of security.
Jones keeps the story moving from a police chase to an in-depth investigation of a sophisticated theft operation. The multi-phase issue fosters a really fine balance from one page to the next. The story is primarily told from the perspective of Catwoman’s accomplice. He and she pool connections. She knows an expert in ancient antiquities. He knows a guy who is really good at making forgeries. He’s got a crush on her that she’s evidently oblivious to. She seems interested in his former friend. Things could get complicated. None of the details in the issue feel at all rushed. Jones packs a hell of a lot into a single installment.
The art is a bit of a mix. Fernando Blanco’s moody, heavy inked style has a stylishness about it that doesn’t quite fit with Petrus’ deftly light, economical line-work. Blanco is given pages 1-8. 10-13 and 15-17. Petrus gets the rest. It’s a rather sudden jump between pages that don’t always break too terribly naturally from scene to scene. John Kalisz’s color is given much more room to breathe and define the visuals in Petrus’ pages than Blanco’s shadow-heavy work, so even the palette isn’t given much of a chance to smooth out the jump between artists.
Visual inconsistency aside, Jones packs a lot of plot and character development into 20 or so pages. Through it all, Catwoman remains a rather great mystery at the heart of the series. She’s a mystery hidden in plain sight. The series focuses so mainly on the surface of her life and what she’s doing that her inner thoughts aren’t allowed to make it to the page. This maintains more than enough mystery to keep her interesting.