Current Reviews


Catwoman #23

Posted: Saturday, September 27, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artists: Guy Davis (p), Cameron Stewart (i)

Publisher: D.C. Comics

The book opens with Holly and Selina taking in the sights in Opal City, hometown of Starman, and we see they're having a pretty good time simply playing the role of tourists. However, we see Selina is still on the trail of her mystery man and she pays a visit to the nightclub where the man had worked about a month previously. However, while she learns the man hasn't been around in the past month and they have no idea where he went, we see Selina is prepared to give up on this quest and simply return to Gotham. However, when the two woman are approached by former street thug/current police officer Bobo Bennetti, we learn the man recognizes Selina from the role she played in helping a prisoner escape years ago, and he tells her that he'll be keeping his eye on her as he doesn't want her practicing her criminal ways in his city. We then join Selina later that night as she's busy taking tour of Opal City's rooftops, when she is attacked by the same group of ninjas that she battled in a previous issue. As her battle takes her down to the street, we see Bobo and his partner join the fight, and together they're able to defeat the ninja attackers. After Bobo convinces his partner to stop trying to arrest Catwoman, we see Selina receives news that the man she's looking for looks to be in St. Roch, as his credit card was just used in that city.

I'm a little disappointed we made a visit to Opal City without looking in on Jack Knight, but than again given the character quickly vanished from the pages of the JSA when James Robinson departed that title, I'm guessing there is some unwritten rule that Starman is James Robinson's baby, and hands off would be the order of the day. Now since James Robinson looks to be busy with his movie pursuits it becomes a little difficult to accept the idea that such a good character has been left on the shelf, seemingly barred from even making the occasional guest-appearance, but than I understand why James Robinson would be reluctant to give up this control, as he worked very hard, and made considerable effort to keep Jack from becoming your average costumed crime-fighter. Now a visit to Opal City is still quite enjoyable even without Jack as the city itself is given a fine showing by the art, and we do get a couple minor supporting players from the Starman series to pop in. However, while it is fun to discover Opal City has itself a Starman museum, and get Selina commenting on how much more enjoyable to is to race along the uniquely designed building tops of Opal City, I can't disguise my disappointment that we never got the interaction between two of the biggest cynics in the super-hero community.

Of all the threats that Ed Brubaker could introduce into this book why did he have to offer up the tired cliché that are ninja warriors. I mean I enjoy the Bruce Lee films, and Frank Miller made pretty good use of the Hand during his classic run on Daredevil, but if the excesses of the 1990s accomplished one thing it was to completely invalidate the concept of ninja's as a genuine threat. I mean Wolverine wades into entire armies of ninjas and doesn't even look to break a sweat beyond the effort it takes him to climb to the top of pile of corpses his leaves in his wake, so he can pose for the obligatory action shot that reaffirms his victory over his hapless opponents. Now I'm not saying that Ed Brubaker can't make this group dogging Selina's heels into an interesting threat as we do get a brief moment where we see one of them actually does manage to bury one of their knives in her back, allowing her to make an entrance with an ever convenient, and somewhat amusing lead-in line. However, it would appear that he has fallen into the same trap that many writers have found their way into, as we see even a police officer with a night stick is equal to the task of taking down these utterly hapless villains. Than again the fact that they kill themselves after they've been defeated would seem to suggest the lead villain directing their actions will be a more formidable opponent to instill this degree of devotion from his underlings.

I'm a big Guy Davis fan thanks largely to his work on "Sandman Mystery Theatre", and if there is one city in the entire DCU that his art style would seem ideally suited for it would have to be the 1950s look of Opal City. Now the finishing work by Cameron Stewart leaves Guy Davis' work looking a little more open than we normally see, and I must confess I was a bit thrown by the seeming lack of detail on the page, at first. However, as I give the art a closer look this second time out for the purposes of this review, I have to say that there is quite a bit of detail on the page, and the more simplistic style does add a strong focus on Guy Davis' design sense, as everything from the placement of the characters in the panels, to the way they interact with the background elements is quite impressive. The little details are also a lot of fun from Holly's look of annoyance as she struggles into the little red dress, to her fangirlish expression when she realizes Bobo Bennetti is talking to them. I also like the fact that the art gave Selina a hairstyle reflective of the era that the flashback was supposed to be set in, as far too often artists seem to forget the little touches like this. The scene where Selina is busy racing through the rooftops of Opal City is also a fun little visual tour of the city's unique look. The fight itself is also nicely rendered even if it never really conveyed a sense of danger.

Final Word:
I'm a little disappointed that we didn't get to visit with Jack Knight, as I would've even accepted a brief little cameo if only to acknowledge that Selina was running around his corner of the DCU. However, it is nice to see another DCU character finally pay a visit to his city, as it is a very interesting place, and it's nice to see it acknowledged during this tour of DC imaginary cities. Plus, it was fun to get Selina's opinion of the city and it's rather unusual look. Now it's a shame that Ed Brubaker didn't come up with something more interesting for Catwoman to do than battle a group of generic ninjas, and the mystery that Selina is investigating is starting to look less an less engaing, as it looks like she's on the trail of either a close friend or relative of Holly, so the final solution will probably be a tearful reunion. However, it is nice to see someone has finally recognized Selina from his criminal days, and we do learn that in spite of her newly found heroic streak, Selina still has several outstanding warrants out on her.

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