You’d think almost dying in prison would keep Catwoman out of the thievery game, but you can’t take the thief out of the cat. A new story arc starts this week and it involves masked characters, which begs the question: is it good?
Catwoman #51 (DC Comics)
Wait, masks you say? What does DC say about this?
The Faceless Mask is an ancient and essential part of the history of the False Face Society…as well as the history of both Gotham City and Selina Kyle! So when the artifact resurfaces in the present day after countless generations, will a piece of Catwoman’s past long believed to be gone return with it?
Why does this book matter?
You’re in good hands with writer Frank Tieri. Just Wikipedia his credentials…go ahead, I’ll wait. Okay good, but what about the art? Inaki Miranda and Elia Bonetti are on pencils and inks which tends to mean we’re going to get a darker street level sort of art style. Sounds perfect for the character!
Cool glow fingers.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
I’m a sucker for flashbacks, at least when they work, and I think Selina’s flashback works well in this issue. We see her when she was younger and simpler, but still stealing. This time, thanks to a boyfriend and a seemingly innocent robbery, we learn in this issue that a very bad thing happens. It works to give the story a bit more emotional resonance and some major oomph later in the issue. I’ll leave it at that to avoid spoilers.
The issue opens like so many Catwoman comics have before it: with Selina breaking into a place to steal something rare, but the best part is it’s a certain something revealed in the last issue! Seemingly tucked away in issue #50 is a short about a mask with a dark and historied past. It turns up here and believe me reading issue #50 gives it a whole lot more weight than this issue alone gives it. It’s creepy to say the least—as are most of the masked men in this issue. Tieri introduces a new character calling himself White Mask (I wonder if Black Mask will take offense?) and he’s creepy as heck.
The art is solid throughout, especially the flashbacks when there are no costumes or masks to speak of. In these scenes the characters’ faces are impeccable—they genuinely feel noticeable and it’s where the true heart lies. Miranda and Bonetti make you believe this is happening with some gritty pencils and dark toned inks. In the scenes with Catwoman she looks great and there are fun details in the background as far as artifacts Selina passes up for another day. Another scene works fantastically due to the haunting features they’ve given Black Mask.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Though the flashback works well I had a minor issue with the final captions that lead to the big reveal. It’s a good cliffhanger, but unless I’m missing something, the final captions reveal a detail that could have given the cliffhanger more oomph if we knew earlier. This reveal actually made me turn back and reread the flashbacks to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Ultimately it’s a hiccup at the end of the day, but it made the book suffer a tad.
Catwoman generally looks good here, but for my tastes it’s a little too simplistic. The character looks almost cartoony in comparison to the highly detailed flashback scenes which made things feel a bit off.
See what I’m saying with the costume?
Is It Good?
A flashback that supplies meaning, purpose and emotional resonance to a decidedly creepy good time story.