"Fire with Fire"
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artists: Paul Gulacy & Jimmy Palmiotti, Laurie Kronenberg(c)
This is something of a debut issue for Catwoman. The artwork has drastically changed, and the title can no longer be considered a de facto animated series book: not that it ever was as the previous storyarc with some desperate action attempted to hammer home. Fortunately a real artist is behind the latest chapter in the reclamation of Selina Kyle's life.
Paul Gulacy has become the artist most associated with the post-Crisis feline. Certainly, Jim Balent had a grope in most of her adventures, but he wasn't exactly an artist and more of a bra inspector who earned his degree at the Russ Meyer School for Breastology. Mr. Gulacy illustrated Catwoman's guest appearances in two Legends of the Dark Knight stories by oft-partner Doug Moench and brought her to life in the overlooked and under hyped miniseries Batman: Outlaws written by the same.
Traditionally, Paul Gulacy's Catwoman has been...well, basically sex with a tail. There was no doubt in my mind that Gulacy's Catwoman was scampering nude around Gotham despite seeming to be sheathed in a purple or purple-gray costume. I'm still stunned that the censors let those panels fly. Selina's new costume from the Emma Peel collection was designed to be more realistic, and it does restrain Mr. Gulacy's artistic instincts. I'm not saying that Mr. Gulacy's own interpretation of was in any way wrong or unattractive. I quite liked it since the interpretation fit the story and made Catwoman a sultry obstacle in Batman's path.
Mr. Gulacy's rendering of Catwoman in her own title is something of a surprise. Oh, in certain scenes she's sexy and exudes sensuality, but when fully dresed Catwoman looks more than anything dangerous. Gulacy translates her overtly animated styled proportions into his more traced-over-film-strip style. While no Balent--who could or would want to be--Mr. Gulacy often enhanced certain attributes of Selina's physique but never to an outlandish extent. In Catwoman Mr. Gulacy makes her petite and muscular. Her new look under Mr. Gulacy's pencils and Jimmy Palmiotti's inks recalls that of Modesty Blaise. Rather than make her a sexy, exotic or impish co-star, Gulacy gives her fitting star angles that really show her in a different light from his previous representations of her.
Paul Gulacy's artwork reflects the strong writing of Ed Brubaker. As well as displaying his usual talent for characterization, Mr. Brubaker shows in the story some of the more far-reaching benefits of Selina's ousting of Black Mask. Only fair since the foul consequences hung around like a thundercloud over a previous story. Selina thanks to her actions now has a reputation to be feared.
The strong plot features an enjoyable cameo from a classic Batman foe. Mr. Brubaker gives him more depth through his dialogue and distinguishes him from the callous modern day thug who does not think and kills wantonly. I still do not care for this Selina's adventures taking place in a Gotham that should be much shinier thanks to Batman's presence, but there's no denying the enjoyment of seeing an efficient urban crimefighter such as Catwoman operating as smartly as Batman should in clever capers.
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