Saturday, January 28, 2006

Catwoman #51

Spoilers follow.

The previous issue contained the long-anticipated revelation that Selina Kyle had been mind-wiped by the JLA, which caused quite a stir. Questions were raised about the use of such an invasive and coercive procedure by 'the good guys,' and readers of the title also feared that this plot element might be a signal that a lot of the nuanced development that Ed Brubaker had brought to the character might be unravelled in future issues.

However, over at X-Ray Spex the title's current writer, Will Pfeifer, offered some calming advice in a comments thread. "What happened to Selina," he wrote, "isn't nearly has important as how she reacts to it, and where she goes from here. And you'll start to see that in the next issue."

I liked what I saw here. Although Selina is understandably unsure of herself, and is asking other people questions that she's going to need to answer on her own, she hasn't magically reverted into some past, super-villainous version of the Catwoman.

The issue's first page shows us Karon and Holly's casual meet-up with Slam Bradley; from there we turn our attention to Selina as she seeks out Bruce Wayne for answers. And, as he has in recent issues of Catwoman, Bruce actually comes across as a perceptive and supportive fellow.

Having arrived in a stolen a car, Selina breaks into the manor; Bruce's first words to her are "Why didn't you use the front door?" After some banter, Selina asks the question that's been hanging in the air since the close of the previous issue:

Here's the final portion of Bruce's long response, (which follows Selina asking "Who was I before your JLA buddies got to me?"):

That's a nicely written (and beautifully drawn) exchange. Selina's slightly sunken eyes in the "Who am I?" panel (heightened by the glare of Bruce's flashlight) subtlely convey the toll that all of this has taken on her.

Later in the book, Selina learns that Black Mask has kidnapped Slam Bradley, and she doesn't miss a beat-- the next we see her, she's riding a (no doubt stolen) motorcycle to the villain's HQ. Selina's reaction is so swift, so in-character, and her desire to save Slam is so urgent, that Pfeifer is cannily leading the reader to think: "Well, maybe Bruce was right; the mind-wipe wasn't such a transforming event for Selina, after all..."

Not so fast! Upon her arrival at Black Mask's HQ, Pfeifer quickly lets us know that Selina isn't quite the same. She proceeds to shoot the building's guard in the shoulder when he opposes her; he's as surprised as we are by this.

More than anything, this issue convinced me that Pfeifer is the genuine article. His deft storytelling and strong characterization successfully moved the characters, the plot, and his readers beyond the unpleasantness of Selina's mind-wipe. We're now focussed on the adventures of a thinking, autonomous woman as she confronts the considerable challenges ahead of her. Catwoman's definitely got some interesting things coming up in her future, and I continue to look forward to reading this book each month.

I agree. The book is in good hands. And yours is a very perceptive review.
Hi, Shelly!

Thanks for the kind word.

Yeah, I'm so glad WP will be sticking with CW through the OYL transition.
Hm, though, I can't say the shooting surprised me. She was pretty free with a gun during War Games (running down the speedsters) and during Big Score she shot Slam to make a point. I find her behavior consistent with the early run of volume 2; she's not trying to be (overtly) a hero like she was during the second half after War Games. It's a good subtle point, that her belief her heroism was caused by a mind-wipe is causing her to give up, in a way. Mind you, I don't think the mind-wipe worked, but so long as she believes it did....
Thanks for your comment, kkg.

I always appreciate hearing from someone with your level of Catwoman expertise.

On a related note, the historian in me was especially intrigued by the scans of your initial CW fan-fic that you posted at your LJ. To you, those yellow pads contain material that contributed to your development as an artist; to me, they also look like preserved historical documents.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?