New art team Brad Rader and Cameron Stewart take over for this done-in-one, which brings Slam Bradley into the series proper—he appeared in a Detective Comics backup setting up Catwoman (or at least tying in enough to be reprinted in the first trade… I think). But he and Selina team up this issue, which is a profound style clash. Rader and Stewart visualize Catwoman action scenes akin to previous artist Darwyn Cooke—with one big exception, which I’m saving for later—but their Selina and Holly investigation procedural pages are like Silver Age romance comics.
And Slam looks like a villain out of a Dick Tracy knock-off, which is some of the point. There’s the contrast in characters, come together in this weird little corner of Gotham City, but Rader’s not great at integrating the two visually. Slam always looks out of place, just slightly too much of a literal caricature to fit.
It doesn’t really matter because it’s a great issue. Ed Brubaker’s script is superb, and—aside from Slam sticking out—Rader and Stewart do a fine job. And here’s that big exception—out of nowhere in the second half, Rader bakes in this building rage in Selina. She boils over with it, even as her narration is relatively cool. It’s fantastic stuff and one heck of a success for Rader on his first issue, especially following up Cooke. When a pissed-off Selina comes across a bad guy, her anger’s palpable entirely through the art.
The story’s about Selina trying to shut down a drug mule operation. The bad guy is getting neighborhood kids to do it, flying down to South America with a fake parent, swallowing a bunch of dope, flying back in intestinal distress, pooping it out. I’m pretty sure there’s another way to get the drugs….
Anyway, doesn’t matter. Holly has found this bad thing going on, Selina will take care of it. Even after she collides with Slam, who’s working a case somehow involving the Mr. Big.
But then there’s also the initial bad guy, who Brubaker gives this incredibly efficient character arc. Outstanding work, with Catwoman distinguishing itself well as something other than “Darwyn Cooke’s Catwoman without Darwyn Cooke.
The creative team seems to realize they’ve got to make a good impression, and all of them do so in unison and separately. It’s real good.