Writer: Steven Grant
Artists: Brad Rader (p), Lipka & Davis (i)
The book opens by showing us that the F.B.I. have set in motion a plan to capture Catwoman, and to this end they look to be working with a mob boss named Antonia Tiglon, who has been repeatedly targeted by Catwoman, and is eager to see her dealt with. As they place a priceless emerald statue in the home of Antonia Tiglon as the bait, we see Catwoman leaps into the trap, and we see that Antonia Tiglon is playing for keeps as her home is littered with devices whose sole purpose is to kill Catwoman. As Catwoman deftly evades all these death traps, we see her make it to the room where the statuette is being kept, but then she oddly turns in another direction. We then see her true goal is to rescue a undercover F.B.I. agent who was being held by Antonia Tiglon, but dealing with the mob boss' henchmen eats up enough time that Antonia Tiglon arrives in time to confront Catwoman before she can free the man. However when the power goes down we see the F.B.I. waiting outside move in, and in the resultant confusion Catwoman is able to slip away with the priceless statuette. However, she does receive some help from another F.B.I. agent who came to realize that Catwoman isn't as evil as she's been made out to be.
Run for the hills! It's an inventory story. You know the ones that are created well in advance of their publication, for the sole purpose of being inserted into a run when the schedule of a book has gone off the rails, and they need another month to get things back on track. Now by it's very nature the inventory story has to be a self contained affair that can't really draw upon any recently established continuity, as they have no idea when the story will run. To this end Steven Grant nicely sidesteps this little hurdle by making having the story told from the perspective of a F.B.I. agent who has been assigned to capture Catwoman, and since Catwoman is a mystery figure, this F.B.I. agent can only draw upon the more commonly known aspects of the character in his bid to capture her. To this end the story is a fairly basic cat & mouse game, as we see the trap is set up to capture Catwoman, and we then see Selina manages to outsmart every one & make off with the cheese on her way out. The one problem with this story though is that Steven Grant delivers a couple scenes that are a little too convenient, like the power going out at a key moment during the final confrontation.
I know so little about Catwoman's previous continuity before this latest series began, so I must say I was a bit thrown by the idea that she is being sought by the F.B.I., but given she makes a regular practice of robbing from the mob, I guess I could see why the F.B.I. would be anxious to meet her. I do have to say that I have to give the mob boss full marks for her death traps, as how can one not love a villain who decides to make it so her entire lawn can become electrified, or one that installs a giant killer fan in her office. Or how about the laser shooting mice, or the gas attack in the air vents, or the machine guns installed in the walls. I mean, one has to love any villain who would go to such extraordinary lengths to kill Catwoman, though I will admit that the Roadrunner cartoons were a childhood favorite of mine, so I have a soft spot for any villain who takes their obsession to such grandiose heights. Now this issue is a bit of a departure from the fairly serious-minded crime-noir that Ed Brubaker had been delivering, but since it's likely this book was written before Ed Brubaker could establish this mood, I can't fault Steven Grant for bringing a more humorous slant to the table.
It's rather nice to see that Brad Rader was the artist lined up to handle the inventory issue, as he's provided some strong work on the book on the past six issues, and this issue nicely plays up the action which was one of the stronger elements of his work. This issue has Catwoman running around a house filled with death dealing device, and the art does a great job of showing not only the danger these devices poses but also the means that Catwoman uses to deal with them. From the frantic energy of Catwoman's encounter with the laser mice, to her encounter with the vacuum fan device, the art has a grand old time with these scenes. The art also does some nice work on the simple storytelling elements, as the mob boss looks like a kid in a candy store as she pushes buttons that activate her various toys, and the scene where we see the F.B.I. agent encounter Catwoman in the final pages is a great little scene in how it draws the eye to the most important elements in this sequence using the flashlight. I also have to make mention of this issue's cover, as while the scene it details isn't inside, it's still a very nice action shot. Anyone out there know who the "Parker" on the cover stands for?
Inventory issues are always a mixed bag, though past experience has shown me that more often than not they are the issues that one can pass on, as they're normally self-contained affairs, and they rarely inspire second visits by the regular creative team. Still Steven Grant offers up a fairly entertaining, if somewhat silly adventure that has Catwoman enter a house that is filled with all manner of devices designed to kill her, and she gets to play hero to a captured F.B.I. agent along the way. Now the action is a lot of fun, and there's a fun little exchange in the latter half of this issue, where Catwoman gets to deliver a wonderful closing line. Still, if you're looking to save some money this month, and you're not an obsessive completeist like myself, then you could easily skip this issue, and still be fully in the loop for next month's adventure. Think of this issue as the deleted scenes that one finds on a DVD, in that you don't need to see them, but if you enjoyed the film you'll probably want to give it a look.
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