Catwoman (2002) #2

Cw2

Darwyn Cooke owns this issue. It begins with an action sequence: Catwoman breaking into Gotham PD to get a look at the autopsies on the dead streetwalkers. Cooke breaks each page into a dozen or two panels, sometimes splitting a horizontal frame, more often zooming in on one particular aspect of the action. All in his “cartoony” style. There’s never better movement in comic art than the first act of Catwoman #2. It’s a masterpiece.

And he doesn’t let up the rest of the issue ambition-wise. There’s Selina and Holly’s girl talk, done in art deco—to contrast the noir—and then the finale reveal. While Selina (and the reader) have heard about what the killer’s doing to the women and then read the reports, the finale shows the immediate aftermath, complete with the cops robbing the corpse.

Cooke’s superhero noir is a genre itself. Absolutely beautiful, superior work.

Ed Brubaker’s script is mostly successful. The Selina narration’s solid (and appropriately sparse at times), but he runs into a couple hiccups. First, obviously, Selina’s characterization of Batman in her narration is one of a dick—he’d care the women were dying, but they chose that life, didn’t they? Second, when Selina does decide she’ll be the one to stop the killings, it appears to only be after the finale and seeing the latest victim. The narration comes too late in the visuals.

Otherwise, the writing’s excellent. The issue has the lengthy action open, which slows down once Selina’s broken into the morgue, then the flashback to her and Holly’s conversation after last issue, then back to the present and the latest killing. Based on the initial pacing, they could’ve gotten away without having Selina arrive at the crime scene in time. The issue’d earned its two dollars and four bits by then, but Cooke and Brubaker somehow find time (and pages) to continue.

Though had they not paced it so well, that final narration fumble might’ve been avoided. But Catwoman’s inordinately rare faults being side effects of its great successes seems on par for the book.

It’s just too good for its own good.

One Comment

  1. Vernon W

    “It’s just too good for its own good.”

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard this phrase in a critical review of a creative act before. I’ll look forward to you defining and demonstrating this in future installments.

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