Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artists: Brad Rader (p), Rick Burchett (i)
The book opens with Detective Allen busy investigating the idea that there's a group of corrupt police officers working to grab control of the drug trade in Gotham City's East End, and he finds his investigation earns him a visit from Catwoman who is also on the trial of this band of rogue cops, as they have framed Holly for a murder they committed. As Catwoman brings Detective Allen in on the plan that she & private investigator Slam Bradley are developing to draw these crooked cops out into the open, we see Selina manages to secure a promise that if this plan works, the falsified murder charge against Holly will go away. We then see that this plan involves making it appear that one of the corrupt cops has turned against the others, and to accomplish this Selina puts a bug in the ear of the group leader about Slam Bradley receiving evidence from this traitor to the cause. As the concerned group pays a visit to Slam Bradley we see the ensuing encounter has the group admitting to their crimes while they're being video recorded, and when all hell breaks loose we see Catwoman has to step in to knock out a few unruly villains
A pretty entertaining caper issue that does have one drawback to it, and that is Catwoman's role in the plan being to stand around on the sidelines until the story reaches the part where the bad guys need their heads knocked together. I realize that her theft of the diamonds last issue set all of this in motion, but I do hope that in future issues Ed Brubaker will see to include a more substantial role for Selina, as ever since the end of the opening arc, the harrowing action elements of this book have been carried out by the supporting players. However, the final page does introduce a villain who has targeted Catwoman and this should make it rather tough for Ed Brubaker to deliver material where Selina's role in largely peripheral. Now I don't want to leave the impression that I dislike how these stories have played out, as this issue is an entertaining finish to a very readable struggle against a corrupt band of police officers. The supporting players are also quite strong, as when Holly was shot the wait for next month's issue was agony, and this issue also feature a nice little shocking moment where Slam Bradley takes a bullet during the chaos that serves as this arc's big finish.
I'm not quite sure I understand how this happy ending was reached, as given most of the criminals in this story were police officers wouldn't they already be aware that the taped evidence that confirmed their guilt couldn't be used to prove their guilt if this case ever saw the inside of a court room. In fact the whole reason why this group looked to be so difficult to deal with is that they had all of the advantages in their corner, but this climax is dependent on these criminals pushing the panic button when they are shown damning evidence that they should already be aware can't be used against them. Now I'm not sure I understand the logistics of why this taped evidence can't be used, but when one of the characters acknowledges that the tapes can't be used, I do have to wonder why the criminals wouldn't also be aware of this fact before they start dishing out evidence that can be used. Then again Selina does manage to twist things to her own advantage in the end, so that the case against these cops is likely to fall apart anyway, so I'll let Ed Brubaker get away with making his criminal a bit slow on the uptake if it'll allow Selina get away with clever little betrayals like the one she offers up at the end of this issue.
Brad Rader's work is remarkably strong from a storytelling sense as it plays out just like an animated cartoon with its ability to detail the actions of a character without the need for any explanatory dialogue. I mean take the page where Detective Allen closes shop for the night & has his run-in with Catwoman, or the absolutely wonderful one-page spread where the action erupts & the panel design follows suit by shattering like a window. Now a good part of this issue is talking heads, but the art keeps it interesting by moving the camera around the room & offering up a nice mix of perspectives. I also like the idea that the art is able to recognize a big impact shot when the story calls for one, as Catwoman's arrival on the credit page is a great visual to kick the story into gear, and the panel sequence where Slam Bradley is shot is a genuinely harrowing scene thanks in large part to the art. As for Paul Pope's covers, I'm not completely sold on them, as there's been a couple I haven't cared much for, but then there's the one we get on this issue which is darn near perfect, with its use of the color red being particularly effective.
A pretty solid finish to this current arc though I was left with the sense that Ed Brubaker forgot to include a role for Catwoman to play in this big finish, as she does little more than play cleanup when the situation gets a little too heated. The final solution also felt a bit rushed as it requires these seemingly intelligent villains to fall for the oldest trick in the book, as Slam Bradley asks some incredibly leading questions and these villains almost fall over themselves in their bid to answer his questions & implicate themselves. Now we do get a nice unexpected plot development in the closing pages, as we see Catwoman isn't above twisting the situation to suit her own needs, even if her actions serve to set these criminals back on the street. The issue also has itself a couple of fairly intense pieces of action as we see Slam Bradley take a bullet, and the last page nicely sets up the next arc as we see Catwoman's actions have made her a fairly dangerous enemy.
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