Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artists: Brad Rader (p), Rick Burchett (i)
The book opens with Selina enjoying lunch with Bruce Wayne, and we see these two still play around the edges of having a relationship, but neither one is willing to commit to the idea. We then join Selina, as we see her in the audience of an appeal hearing for a woman on death row, and as the woman pleas her case before the judge we see this woman proclaim her innocence. We then learn that according to the woman she simply got involved with the wrong guy, and she had no idea that he planned on robbing the store, or that there was a body in the trunk. However, we see that the judge finds no reason to overturn her death sentence, and later that night the woman finds herself on her way back to death row. However on the trip back to the prison, we see the van transporting her gains itself another passenger. As Catwoman sets in motion her plan we see the prison van ends up teetering off the edge of a bridge, and while the guards escape from the vehicle, the van looks to plunge into the river far below with its prisoner still inside. However, we see Catwoman rescued the woman, and she sends her into hiding, as we learn the woman was a childhood friend of Selina's.
If the story that Catwoman's childhood friend offers up is the truth then having her convicted for the death of the man in the trunk of the car does seem a bit implausible, as there are tests that police can do to see if a person has recently fired a gun, and one would think that this test would've been made if she denied playing a role in the murder right from the outset. Simply put the mere presence of another person who could've committed the murder should've been enough to stay off the death sentence. Now I realize that the death sentence gives Catwoman the motivation she needs to help this woman escape, as if she had simply been given a life sentence then the question of how innocent this woman really was would've been an issue. There's also the question of if Gotham City does practice the death penalty, then why haven't any of Batman's villains ever been placed on death row? I realize that most of them are crazed lunatics, but I given this woman was sent to the death house based on the circumstantial evidence the story suggests was used to convict her, it does seem quite odd that Batman's never lost any villains to the justice system.
This story does nicely play up the idea that Catwoman is driven by her own sense of justice. There is a question of how truthful the woman's story is after we get a flashback to a scene where we see that she is capable of crossing the line, as she slams a fire extinguisher down on a person repeatedly. I mean after seeing this scene I couldn't help but have my doubts about the woman's story, as it does cast her into the role of innocent victim, while this flashback to an earlier time makes it clear that she's perfectly capable of murder if she's given sufficient motivation. Still having been witness to this earlier display of her capacity to commit murder, we see Selina still frees this woman based solely upon the testimony that this woman gave at her appeal. There's no sense of doubt about the idea that the story her friend gives might not be the truth, but rather one suspects that Selina is blinded by the idea that she owes this woman, as she rescue her from the attentions of a decidedly disturbed young man. I rather like the idea that Ed Brubaker does leave a sense of doubt about whether Selina did the right thing, and while Batman gives her the okay, I also question his judgement when it comes to his dealings with Selina.
Brad Rader's biggest strength is his storytelling ability, as the art does an absolutely marvelous job detailing the material. Take the rescue sequence that serves as this book's main action sequence, as while there really should have been an earlier scene that showed us the planting of the device that allowed Catwoman to remotely blow out the prison van's tire, the art still does a wonderful job showing us this plan in action. The action is very nicely detailed from the opening scene where Catwoman latches onto the speeding van, to the scene where the vehicle plunges off the bridge, the art does a very nice job showing us how Catwoman manages to save this woman's life while making it appear that she died in a freak accident. There's also some strong work on the flashback scenes, as there's a horrific looking crash scene during the bit where the woman explains how it all played out, and during our look at the time were this same woman rescued Selina, the murderous rage that overcomes her after her face is cut is chillingly presented. My only real problem with this art on this series is that the book does seem unable to hold on to its perfect artists, as I do believe I've read a story that Brad Rader is set to leave this book soon as well.
A pretty entertaining issue that holds up rather nicely as an example of Catwoman's rather loose definition of justice, as she sets free an inmate sentenced to die, largely due to the fact that she knew the person as a child. Now I'm sure Batman fans will wonder why he didn't come down harder on Selina for her rather questionable activities in this issue, but I'm willing to accept that he's willing to cut her a little slack due to their unique relationship. Now I must admit I find it a bit hard to accept that this woman is even on death row, as the case against her does have some serious flaws when it comes to confirming her as the murderer, but then again the issue also makes it clear that she certainly looks capable of it, and I do like the fact that Ed Brubaker did leave the idea of her guilt open to interpretation, even if Selina is convinced of her innocence. In the end this is a nice done-in-one issue, with a fairly clever escape plan to boot.
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