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Catwoman #18

Posted: Friday, May 9, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Javier Pulido

Publisher: DC

Plot:
The book opens with Holly waking up from a nightmare in which we see she is deeply disturbed by the idea that she killed someone, and given Selina recent withdrawn behavior Holly believes that Selina believes she was wrong to pull the trigger. As Holly battles the ever growing urge to escape into a drug induced state, with a bottle full of pills she lifted from the clinic, we see Selina is too wrapped up in her own depressed state to notice Holly is slipping back down the slippery slope of drug addiction. We then look in on Selina, who is attempting to find some measure of comfort in busting heads, as she takes down a group of drug dealers, but even this rather rigorous activity leaves her numb, and she can't shake the feeling that her life is without meaning. The book then looks in on Slam Bradley who is looking to lose himself in his work, and as such he's taken on a missing persons case, where a young woman has vanished, and her elderly, but very wealthy husband is eager to find her, as he doesn't believe she would abandon him, or rather his considerable fortune. As Slam recruits Selina to help him question the young man that this woman had taken to seeing before she disappeared, we soon see Slam's mental state is also on shaky ground, as he loses his cool, and takes to beating this man to get answers.

Comments:
Damaged goods would've been a nice title for this latest arc as following on the heels of the fairly unsettling events that played out in the previous arc, it's clear that the cast of this book have pretty much come off the rails, and are simply unable to cope with what happened. So we have Holly casting a longing eye at a bottle of prescription pills that she's certain will provide the escape she is so desperately seeking. We have Slam clinging to a relationship that he recognizes is damaging to himself & the person he's become involved with, and yet even when he gets a huge warning after he flies into a rage when he sees this woman interacting with another man, we see he's still unable to do the right thing. Then we have Selina, who has gone looking for comfort in her job as a vigilante crime-fighter, but she has effectively become numb to the world, as she's almost operating on autopilot during this issue's brief bit of Catwoman action. Now thanks to some deft character development in the previous issues of this book, I'm deeply invested in what's happening to these characters, and in the interests of getting back to a less somber mood, I do hope something is able to jar these characters out of their various self-defeating emotional states. Still, I can't deny that I'm following this book with baited breath, waiting for the other shoe to fall.

While I would like to see the book shift back to a less depressing mood, on the other side of the equation, having the cast of this book effectively fall to pieces in the wake of such a devastating event does act to humanize these characters, and when they emerge back into the light, they will be stronger characters. Far too often in comics, characters are moving along to the next thing in the wake of an event that would leave most people an emotional wreck. Now I understand why writers aren't exactly interested in investing any more time than they need to dealing with a tragedy, as there's only so much material one can really derived from a shocking death, or injury, and even though Ed Brubaker is doing a wonderful job detailing the shattered psyches of his cast, I must confess I'm getting a little eager to move past this emotional wreckage. Still it's great to see Holly is haunted by the fact that she had to kill someone, and there's also a nice little moment where we see her react to a couple kids who race past her on skateboards. There's also a pretty solid exchange where we see Slam is discussing a case with a client, and the client is unknowingly painting a picture of a relationship that is just as screwed up as the one in which Slam currently finds himself entangled in.

Javier Pulido's work is a little too cartoonish looking in the issue, and there were a few too many moments in this issue where it looked like he was cutting corners when it came to background detailing. However I'll give the book full marks for its ability of clearly detail the action, as Holly's nightmare in the opening pages of this issue does a wonderful job conveying the character's deeply troubled mental state. The action scene where Catwoman takes out a group of drug dealers is also nicely handled, as the art conveys a nice sense of speed as Catwoman clings to this speeding vehicle, and when it come crashing to a halt, the art does a wonderful job detailing the impact. There's also a nice sense of desperation in the eyes of the crowd as they descend on the drug money that is sent spilling out of the car after the crash, and the scene where Slam loses his cool & begins to physically attack the man that Selina had been getting close to, was nicely handled by the art, as we don't actually get to see the initial attack, so the reader is actually just as surprised by Slam's actions, as Slam himself appears to be. There's also some solid little moments, like the throwaway scene where Holly is momentarily frightened by a couple children, or the look of outright anger on Selina's face as they are returning home on page 21.

Final Word:
The mood is very dark & depressing in this book, and I don't know how many more months I can take of such an unrelenting sense of doom & gloom. However, I genuinely care what happens to these characters, and there are moments, where Ed Brubaker seems to be fully aware of this fact, as there are several scenes in this issue where one almost gets the sense that these characters are never going to overcome the depressing status quo that has been established. From Holly's dangerous temptation with the bottle full of pills, to Slam's disturbing flash of jealousy & possessiveness, one can't help but think that it's going to get far darker before the dawn. The one thing that this book could work on though is its lead character, as out of the three stories, Selina's is far & away the weakest. Now part of this is her rather elusive personality, as Selina has a more detached personality, but still given she is suppose to be the star player, it's a bit worrisome that I find her the least interesting part of the book.



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