blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Catwoman (2002) #12

Cw12Ah, the days when the first part of an arc was really the first part of an arc. This issue opens with Selina—as Catwoman—chasing a kid through the streets of Gotham. He’s in Alleytown, a frankly gorgeous but rundown and dangerous neighborhood in Gotham. Artist Cameron Stewart busts ass on the scenery, so much so it’s like they should’ve just set the arc in Paris. But, no, it’s in Gotham. And we see more traditional Gotham towards the end of the issue when Slam’s out getting wasted and telling Holly how much he luvs Selina.

But Alleytown is this architecturally distinct neighborhood where Selina—in her narration—describes spending some time as a youth. At first, it seems like writer Ed Brubaker is going to delay revealing the connection, but as things progress, we eventually get the backstory. Selina’s trying to figure out what’s going on with a rash of pickpocketing–there’s something very strange about Leslie Thompkins and Selina ratting out Leslie’s pickpocket—a Black kid on a skateboard–to the cops, especially since Catwoman is all about how the cops are dirty. The kid still manages to get away, thanks to some quick thinking on his part, so Selina has to go investigating while in costume.

With help from Leslie and (an off-page) Bruce Wayne, Selina is converting an old church into the new East End Community Center, where kids can learn from famous artists for free, amongst other activities, and stay out of the streets and out of trouble. Selina’s using the diamonds she stole in the last arc, though—as always—Bruce spends more on batarangs than she did on getting this community center set up. Even though he’s not in the comic, it’s another reminder that Batman’s a dick.

It’s a good issue—Stewart has a lot of fun toggling between the action and the talking, especially once he gets to juxtapose a Slam fight scene and a Selina fight scene. Selina meets an old friend—while the cliffhanger is Holly meeting another old friend—only Selina’s old friend is actually a villain out to get her. Brubaker wastes no time on that reveal, with the flashback covering Selina’s youth in Alleytown and her old friend Sylvia, who exited Selina’s life sometime before Batman: Year One. Only Sylvia’s working with a mystery big bad (it’s not a mystery to me, either thanks to distant memory or just the teasers about the next big bad in previous issues, not to mention the Secret Files).

And it’s all set up. It’s Brubaker arranging the pieces on the board to play with in the rest of the arc. There’s the community center, Sylvia, the pickpockets, Holly’s mystery guest star, and Slam being in love with Selina; we’re in for a big, character-driven arc.

And I think I just remembered something terrible will happen before it’s over. Something really terrible.

I can’t wait, but also… it’s going to be rough.

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