Ever since Tini Howard took over on Catwoman, the character has been rather serious as she takes on Gotham’s most powerful mobsters. That is, until today’s Catwoman #43, which features Bengal on art for a fun Harley Quinn side adventure. The two are hitting the town as they dodge threats and roller derby opponents!
This issue juggles two things well. The first is the ominous threat of goons being sent by Black Mask to kill or at least hurt Catwoman. The second is how fun Harley Quinn makes things. Combined, we have two heroes literally sending cars off the road to save their lives while also attempting to get the best snacks at gas stations.
Harley is written well here as she’s super cute, innocent in her own way, but also certain when she takes action. It’s a good blend of chaos and fun which plays off Catwoman well. Howard also explores the will-they-or-won’t-they tension in some respects too and it’s treated in a mature way.
We all know Harley is big into roller derby, but Catwoman not so much. There’s some fun discovery for Catwoman who is dragged into a match thanks to Harley’s enthusiasm.
Bengal draws a heck of a kinetic issue with great use of color by Jordie Bellaire that really stretches the space. The opening sequence is all by car and Bengal adds streaky lines to the road and surroundings that are quite pleasant. There’s a slightly retro feel to some scenes which suits these characters, too. Sound effects are loud and quite fun, taking up whole panels and contending with our heroes which helps frame them in some scenes. The use of Ben-Day dots here and there adds a nice texture that feels like a throwback to earlier comic eras as well.
Tom Napolitano letters the issue who amps up scenes with good sound effects here and there. At times the words are barely contained by word balloons, giving them good emphasis and life as needed. There sometimes seems to have an extra balloon here or there, like in a “Jeez!” or a “ooo!” that playfully moves about. There are nice subtle touches throughout.
This issue reads as two stories smashed into one. You start with the characters speeding along on a road trip, soon they’re bedding down, but then everything switches to the roller derby in the final scene. The plotting is a bit janky near the end of the issue and could have used a smoother transition.
Catwoman #43 is a lot of fun thanks to the well-written dynamic between Catwoman and Harley Quinn. They’re going on a side adventure from the main quest, but the real adventure is the bond and friendship they share. Paired with great art, this is a thrill ride of an issue.
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