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'Catwoman: Lonely City' #1 review: This cat still has claws

Comic Books

‘Catwoman: Lonely City’ #1 review: This cat still has claws

Who needs Batman?

Ten years after an unknown event killed Batman and Commissioner Gordon, Selina Kyle has been released from prison and is trying to acclimate to a Gotham City she hardly recognizes. Blamed for the death of the Caped Crusader and plagued by the ghosts of her past and her deteriorating physical abilities, Selina is determined to make Batman’s sacrifice worth it.

To say that I have been looking forward to Cliff Chiang’s Catwoman: Lonely City would be quite the understatement. I’ve been on board for this book ever since it was first announced, and I’m happy to say that it lives up to the hype. From the very first page, in which Selina evades capture amid gripping yet spare narration, I was hooked. This book will of course bring to mind perennial “final” superhero stories like The Dark Knight Returns — and as I’ve mentioned on AIPT before, I love these types of stories — but it also succeeds in feeling like a spiritual successor to Darwyn Cooke and Ed Brubaker’s classic run on the character. And that’s maybe the greatest strength of this story: Unlike many other dystopian tales of its ilk, Lonely City‘s Selina Kyle remains recognizable as the character we all love. She’s slower and and she’s been through a lot, but she hasn’t lost herself.

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Cliff Chiang uses every single tool in his arsenal in telling this story. Every page is dripping with style and an astonishing level of detail, from the readouts on the visors of the so-called Bat Cops to the bright pink Gotham City sunsets to the worn-down treads of Catwoman’s boots. Chiang’s Selina Kyle is a character who wears her heart on her sleeve. When she’s alone and can really allow herself to feel the years, you can see every emotion and aching thought on her face.

DC Preview: Catwoman Lonely City #1
DC Comics

The dialogue is also very strong, giving readers just the right amount of exposition sprinkled throughout without being oppressive. We get the feeling that the entire landscape of Gotham has changed and that people aren’t necessarily on the same side of the never-ending fight that they used to be. The conversations also feel very natural and truthful. For instance, we’re treated to one of the most endearing and down to earth portrayals of Killer Croc I’ve ever seen, and his familiarity and tenderness with Selina during their conversation at Ma Hunkel’s bar is one of the highlights of this first issue.

In its first issue, Lonely City not only presents an intriguing look at Gotham’s possible future, but it also directly addresses (and refutes) tired diatribes against the Dark Knight and his family. The old argument of “Well, why doesn’t Bruce just use his money to help Gotham” is tackled here, and the state of Gotham goes a long way towards showing how that’s such a narrow view of the character. Money isn’t a permanent solution — and it sidesteps the entire point of Batman’s crusade.

This last point is hammered home by the presence of Selina’s new enemies: jackbooted thugs who operate on the city’s dime and dress in Batman-inspired uniforms. Much like real-world police officers have touted the iconography of the Punisher (seemingly without really thinking about what that means), Gotham’s new security force has done nothing but diminish the Batman’s legacy by co-opting his image.

Beyond all that, the successes and failures of the Batman and the system he tried to protect provide a perfect backdrop for Selina’s newest mission. This issue does a great job of dangling plot threads that will be explored in future issues, and I can’t wait to see Selina continue to make up for lost time. The first issue of Lonely City takes some huge swings, but its greatest strength lies in its strong portrayal of the lead character.

'Catwoman: Lonely City' #1 review: This cat still has claws
‘Catwoman: Lonely City’ #1 review: This cat still has claws
Catwoman: Lonely City #1
'Lonely City' gets right at the heart of Selina Kyle and her relationship to Gotham, resulting in a socially relevant Catwoman story like no other.
Reader Rating1 Vote
The portrayal of Selina Kyle is true to the character while still moving her forward into uncharted territory
Dialogue is truthful and engaging; you can read years of history between each line
The book is absolutely gorgeous, particularly when Selina takes to the rooftops
Tackles the age-old question of "Why doesn't Bruce Wayne just donate all his cash?" head-on

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