Cliff Chiang’s epic, prestige format DC Black Label Catwoman series continues this week with Catwoman: Lonely City #3. Set in a future where Batman is dead, Two-Face runs Gotham, and Catwoman needs one last score, Chiang has mixed action, satire, and meaningful character moments to perfection. The only thing standing in her way is an army of Batman-looking police and the requirement of hiring some villains to get the job done. No problem — unless, of course, your luck is running out.
One thing that helps Catwoman: Lonely City stand out is its extra size and length. Chaing not only has a longer page count with 49 or so pages, but he gets to explore the page more with a winder format. You see it on the very first page with a traditional three-panel-wide structure that has room to fit in some extra panels here or there. Every page packs more of a storytelling punch thanks to that extra space.
That’s also due to Chaing’s incredible art that’s surefooted and detailed. A lot of progress happens on a single page with only two pages consisting of three or fewer panels. As you soak in Arkham Asylum, for instance, we see progress with Poison Ivy’s plan outside and Clayface on the inside falling into a trap. There’s a slight cartoonish look to the characters that makes them a little extra pleasing to the eye and yet their surroundings are highly detailed, as if carved from stone.
There’s a lot going on in this single issue, too. There are multiple heists, romantic elements in the past and present, and plenty of entertaining character moments. While Catwoman is a bit sullen and serious for the most part, she still gets to let her hair down a bit and have a little fun. That said, she takes some lumps in this issue, further playing into the series title. Many will fall in love with Killer Croc who has a bruiser tough-guy personality, but also a kind older brother perspective on Catwoman. Under all that bravado is a kind heart.
Fans of Poison Ivy will adore this issue. She has so much flair and personality you’d think this was her own self-titled series. When she’s in a scene you tend to focus on her as she’s either the most fun or at least the most extra.
Another interesting visual and storytelling element is the news briefs. There are multiple instances of black boxes with white captions above news clips to help the reader know what’s going on with Gotham. Two-Face’s power revolves around the voter’s approval, which is depicted well. It’s also interesting to see how the news covers Catwoman’s exploits.
While there are two heists, only one is really action-packed. The basic plotting of the issue is a bit slow, especially with long scenes of dialogue, making for an issue that’s more about setting things up for later. In one scene action is anticipated, but is quickly quelled after Two-Face orders his men to fire on Catwoman which results in chaos amongst the citizens. The page turn uses the news to help fill in the gaps, but it also stops the scene dead, making for a jarring change.
Catwoman: Lonely City continues to prove great art, characters, and a singular focus by one creator can go far. This is a story that wouldn’t work in canon but does so well to establish its rules and parameters it might as well be its own universe worth expanding on. Catwoman: Lonely City expands on the familiar by creating new and enticing stories well worth investing in.
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