Current Reviews


Catwoman #13

Posted: Saturday, November 30, 2002
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Cameron Stewart

Publisher: DC

The book opens with Selina visiting her younger sister Maggie, who has moved back to Gotham City with her husband. As we see that the family ties between these two haven't been completely severed, the strained conversation these two share makes it clear that there some damage that needs to be dealt with. However, we see Selina makes the first step by inviting Maggie to the grand opening of the community center that she has funnel her recently acquired ill-gotten gains into building. While the community center looks to be a smash, and the celebration acts to create a sense of accomplishment, we see later that night Selina's dream to make Gotham's East End a better place to live is shattered, when the Black Mask makes it clear that he's not going to make Catwoman's quest an easy one, as his men blow up the newly constructed community center. As an enraged Catwoman manages to catch up to the men who blew up the building, we see she's unable to question them as they are killed by a gunman. As the issue ends we look in on Maggie, as we see the Black Mask isn't through with his attacks upon Selina's world, as Maggie's husband is kidnapped.

I have to give Ed Brubaker full marks for the way he pulls the rug out from the reader, as page fifteen is a truly shocking turn of events, and I can't wait to see how this all plays out. In fact what makes this surprise so effective is that up until this scene hits the story is fairly quiet, so one simply isn't expecting such an abrupt change in the overall mood of the story. However, once page fifteen hits the entire story changes as the hopeful mood that the opening two-thirds of the issue played up is instantly quashed, and one is left with the very real sense that Catwoman's steady progress at becoming a hero has been dealt a serious blow, as I can't imagine her responding to this attack with anything less than outright vengeance on her mind. The last couple pages of this issue nicely up the stakes even more, as we see the Black Mask isn't content on making only one attack upon Selina's world. There's also the simple fact that one of the parties that is working for the Black Mask knows Selina Kyle is Catwoman, and as such her secret identity offers her no real solace from this string of attacks, and the people Selina cares for are viable targets in this impending war between Catwoman and the Black Mask.

I also like the way that Ed Brubaker is continuing to expand this book's supporting cast, as this issue adds Selina's little sister & her husband to the list of characters who provide the background support that so many other titles simply neglect to supply. I've always been of the mind that a good supporting cast is a key ingredient in all titles, with Spider-Man being the best example of the ideal supporting cast. I mean Aunt May, Mary Jane & J. Jonah Jameson are vital pieces when it came to making Peter Parker's out of costume adventures just as engaging as his costumed heroics. Another good example is Geoff Johns recent work over on the Flash, as he's made several new additions to the supporting cast, and the book's all the stronger for it, as we no longer have a glut of speedsters that made up the previous supporting players in that title. Ed Brubaker has given us Holly, Slam Bradley & Leslie, and all three of these characters have been fleshed out to such a degree that they could easily carry an entire issue, as Holly has already proven in issue #6. Now I'm sure longtime fans are probably more familiar with Selina's younger sister Maggie, but this issue does a pretty good job of establishing the strained relationship the exists between these two, and the last page provides a solid reason for Maggie to seek Selina's help.

First off I have to say that it's wonderful to see that J.G. Jones appears to be this book's regular cover artist, as his art is absolutely gorgeous, and one can actually see the sense of hopelessness in Selina's face on this month's cover. As for the interior art, Cameron Stewart continues to impress with his ability to detail the action in an easy-to-follow, and highly exciting manner. The late-night meeting that Selina has with her younger sister is a wonderful example of how the art can deliver a vital little detail, as we see Maggie smiles when she hears the bump in the middle of the night, and as such we know going in Maggie's happy to be reunited with her sister, even if the resultant conversation makes it clear that bridges have been burned between these two. Page fifteen of this issue is also a wonderful piece of art as it nicely captures the importance of this scene, and the chase sequence that follows is an amazing bit of action, as one can tell Catwoman is dead-set on bringing these men down. The look to horror on her face when the man she was questioning is shot is also a strong visual, as is the panel where we learn who the shooter was. The last couple pages are quite strong in how they show how quickly the mood can shift.

Final Word:
Here I was all ready to admonish Ed Brubaker for offering up another issue where there was next to no action, and then this issue kicks everything into high gear, and one simply has to hold on as this book literally explodes forward. Now for longtime fans I'm sure the opening two-thirds of this issue are a welcome sight, as Ed Brubaker brings Maggie back into the book, and we see that Selina is able to form a connection with her younger sister. This issue also does a wonderful job of creating a sense of hope before we hit the final third of this issue, and the Black Mask makes his opening attacks in his bid to destroy Catwoman. There's also a nifty little betrayal in this issue, as we see not every childhood friend that reenters Selina's life is going to cherish the friendship that they once shared. In fact this issue makes it clear that Selina's supporting players are in quite a bit of danger, as the Black Mask is given a pretty good clue about who she is under the mask.

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