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Catwoman #23

Posted: Thursday, September 25, 2003
By: Ray Tate



"Opal at Night"

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artists:Guy Davis(Layouts), Cameron Stewart(finishes), Lee Louridge(c)
Publisher: DC

Easily the best issue of Catwoman since the redirection, "Opal at Night" exemplifies what has been missing. Opal being deprived of a super-hero benefits the story. Certainly, there's mention of Starman, old and noble as well as young and surly, but since there's no costumed example present. All of these references can be considered allusions to the Starman legend. Nothing unconsciously reminds the reader of DC's lousy continuity.

While Selina and Holly also name check Wildcat and the JSA in addition to Batman, the dialogue lacks emphasis. Instead, it's light and bouncy, as it should be. In this chapter, Ed Brubaker does not set anything in concrete, and the ambiguity keeps Catwoman safe from the damaging winds of the post-Crisis.

The five years ago flashback while giving the reader some bearing, still does not quite identify an exact, carved in stone time frame. Thus we gain more autonomy from the DC perplexiverse as originally promised.

If we were to operate under DC's confusing continuity, Selina should in the flashback be sporting Balent buoys. Instead, we see a lithe, sleek Selina in disguise--which also serves as a simple means to avoid the skin-tight purple costume and the unwanted killer domino set that falls any moment when somebody attempts to clumsily graft Catwoman to DC improper.

Instead of worrying about pleasing his DC masters and perhaps because he's no longer the flavor of the month, Mr. Brubaker returns to the whole point of this exercise. Reuniting Holly and Selina through normalcy and the roots of their friendship.

With continuity being alleviated from Mr. Brubaker's back, he focuses instead on characterization and superb dialogue expressing that characterization. His relief shows in the vigor of the characters.

Cameron Stewart's style over Guy Davis' layouts produces an attractive depiction of two friends touring an art deco city whose foundation can be found in Dave Gibbons' and Steve Rude's World's Finest.

The scenes of a joy in simple existence recall Selina as a protagonist viewing her first, new sunrise streams gaily through the panels. The follow-up of Catwoman jumping and darting through a fresh landscape entertains through a sheer sense of fun.

I would have been ecstatic had the book ended there, but Mr. Brubaker unfortunately seems to have felt afraid of boring the reader. He interrupts the breezy tone with a contrivance in the form of the turbaned bozos that have been trailing Selina since the New York encounter.

In a strange way, I'm reminded of the Daredevil movie. I would have been delighted to watch the blossoming romance between Matt Murdock and Elektra. Unfortunately all these stupid, distracting vigilante moments got in the way.

Fortunately, unlike the Daredevil movie, Mr. Brubaker confines this unconvincing melee to the tail end of the book, and the main plot of two friends sharing an effervescent lark take up the lion's share.



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