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Catwoman #26

Posted: Saturday, December 27, 2003
By: Ray Tate



"A Knife in the Dark"

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artists: Paul Gulacy & Jimmy Palmiotti, Laurie Kronenberg(c)
Publisher: DC

In this issue of Catwoman, Ed Brubaker evolves Selina's role in the East End of Gotham City while Paul Gulacy continues to make Catwoman his book. Both creators are successful in their bid to do something different without ostracizing readers who actually still like super-heroes.

Mr. Brubaker lays out Selina's new plans to make a difference and looks to the past of detective fiction's origins to enhance her abilities. He moves the story between Karon and Holly forward and isolates Catwoman from the rest of DC's incomprehensible "original" universe to make it seem as if she is the top cat in her territory.

While Catwoman mentions Batman, the dialogue creates a distancing effect. It's as though vocally somebody is looking at something far away. Slam Bradley is her operative, not a partner. Holly is her number one, not her Robin.

Selina's schemes have a sound premise, and the inclusion of the Joker's former nutso henchmen raises the story to a symbolic level of conflict. The thugs represent chaos. Selina represents order, but Mr. Brubaker shows that order and law are not synonymous. This difference nicely keeps Catwoman prowling in the shady areas of outlaw territory.

Paul Gulacy's artwork drastically differs from the animated inspired look of Darwyn Cooke and Cameron Stewart. I enjoyed both artist's previous work on the title, and while I generally like Mr. Gulacy's artwork, I admit to being a little fearful about whether or not his style and Catwoman would mesh. Worse, his being in Catwoman's alley could push the book closer to the DCU. Fortunately, my fears have not come to pass.

Mr. Gulacy on the very first page exemplifies what he bestows to Catwoman. Cooke and Stewart made Catwoman animated, and Mr. Gulacy makes the book cinema.

The depiction of rain creates introduction, sets the mood and segues to the action. A lightning strike makes an obstacle that Selina must overcome. The storm enhances the texture of Catwoman's costume. You hear the rainfall on the leather. You feel it strike. The artwork evokes the senses.

Mr. Gulacy continues to bestow Modesty Blaise sophistication to Selina's sense of style. He gives a European cut to her clothing. He designs for her striking jewelry and accessories. It's these little things that help create a fictional world.

This issue gives Mr. Gulacy the leave to illustrate the supporting cast. Honestly, I cannot say I care for his version of Leslie Thompkins. He gives her too sharp and long of a nose and make her a trifle too crone-like for my tastes. His look for Holly is a little reminiscent of Michelle Trachtenberg, Penny from Inspector Gadget and Dawn Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her look works an contrasts the shape and appearance of her lover Karon who while echoing previous versions has gained a softness under Mr. Gulacy's pencils.

Mr. Gulacy has a fairly large body of sweaty, sexy, lusty work. Working with Mr. Brubaker allows for him to explore a largely unknown range. A scene where Holly and Karon hug and kiss Mr. Gulacy depicts as sweet rather than salacious, and this isn't the only pleasant surprise one can find in Catwoman.



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