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Catwoman #28

Posted: Friday, February 27, 2004
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Ed Brubaker
Pencils: Paul Gulacy
Inks: Jimmy Palmiotti
Colors: Laurie Kronenberg
Letters: Clem Robins
Publisher: D.C. Comics

The Plot:
In a bid to draw the hired killer Zeiss out, Catwoman roughs up the Penguin who she correctly believes brought Zeiss to Gotham, and while her efforts do draw Zeiss out, Catwoman soon has cause to regret this encounter, as Zeiss uses it to deliver a message. As she discovers that Zeiss is incredibly fast, as she's unable to lay a finger upon him during their brief encounter, Catwoman also learns that Zeiss doesn't really care who he kills so long as Catwoman is made aware that these people are dying because of her.

The Good:
This issue is an exciting buildup chapter, as Catwoman gets her first face to face meeting with Zeiss, and he manages to deftly expose why claiming herself to be the protector of Gotham's East End is an impossible take as there's no way she can protect everyone living in the neighborhood. There's also a harrowing sequence where Catwoman has to race into the dark subway tunnels in pursuit of Zeiss who has gotten his hands on a hostage, and given Zeiss has shown himself to kill people indiscriminately, this scene does have a big question mark stamped on it. While there's a unwritten rule that children hostages are never killed, I have to say this didn't keep me from believing the worst when Zeiss started in with the knife. The issue also manages to offer up a nice display of the speed Zeiss can draw upon as he's able to make Catwoman look like she's standing still, in spite of her internal narration where she seems to be of the mind that he's almost as fast as she is. The issue also opens with a well written exchange between Catwoman and the Penguin, as while I still have difficulty accepting the character as a real threat with his silly umbrella weaponry, and the simple fact that most times I see him lately he's getting shaken down by the heroes, I will say this issue manages to give the character a bit of backbone, as we see not only does he stand up to Selina's demands, but her entire plan for getting him to do what she wants him to do is dependent on his not caving but rather getting angry enough to sic Zeiss on her.

I still miss the work of the previous art team, but Paul Gulacy does manage to show why he's going to be a good fit for this book, as he shows a very solid understanding of how to deliver a visually engaging fight. In fact there's a great panel where we see Zeiss evades what looks like a bone crunching kick to the head by Catwoman by flipping backwards to land behind a handy hostage, and I have to say I loved the sense of motion in this panel sequence. There's also a great visual shocker as we see Zeiss produces a gun and proceeds to gun down the nearby bystanders, as a means to show Catwoman that he doesn't really care who falls to his attacks. The art also does some great work on the opening sequence as we see Catwoman roughs up the Penguin, as the art manages to nicely sell his growing anger, and his look of utter terror after she drops him off the roof is absolutely perfect. However, I am a bit concerned that in the rest of the issue, the facial expressions are a bit flat, as Slam is the very definition of stone-faced, which was a bit distracting in the final pages when he discovers that his young bodyguard was injured by Zeiss, and the character undergoes no change of expression.

The Bad:
I have to say the decision to include a cast of young kids who act as the eyes and ears for Selina in the neighborhood isn't one that I'm completely convinced is a good one, as the supporting cast is starting to feel a bit too much like one that was best left behind in the Golden Age. I mean I see a group of kids and I instantly have visions of the Newsboy legion, or Tom Strong's Strongmen of America, and this is not exactly an element that I encourage any comic title actively seek. Now I guess Ed Brubaker could be trying to play off Shelock Holmes' little army, but the argument that kids make for the ideal group of spies as they're easily ignored doesn't really hold up, as unless the criminals are plotting their crimes in the middle of the day, in areas that the general public has access to, than children don't have any real advantage over any agent that Selina could make use of. I mean at night people are going to wonder why this child isn't at home, and the only element that children cast members tend to bring to a book is that they make for ideal hostages, as this issue proves. I also have to say the scene where Slam Bradley and his "bodyguard" are getting on each others nerves it felt more like Ed Brubaker pandering to the young readers of this title than a scene that played any real role in the story. I'm also getting a bit annoyed by the idea that the only role Slam Bradley seems to be playing in this title is that of the clumsy oaf who can't seem to mount any semblance of defense against the people that threaten him.

Like Fish In A Barrel:
This issue does a good job presenting Zeiss as a real threat to Catwoman, as the two have their first real encounter, and Catwoman is given a pretty good look at what she's up against. I like the idea that Zeiss made this appearance to show Catwoman that he's smarter than the average psychopathic killer, as he's able to see right through her clever plan, and puts on a pretty shocking display of why she shouldn't try it again. The issue also opens with a memorable encounter between Catwoman and the Penguin, and I have to say I did walk away from this exchange with more respect for the Penguin, as he displays a solid understanding of how the game is played, while at the same time we see he's capable of losing his head and lashing out with a psychotic fury of his own. Still the inclusion of a cast of young teens that will act as Catwoman's eyes and ears in the East End strikes me as an incredibly goofy idea, and the exchanges that center around one member of this group of teens doesn't exactly quell my concerns, as frankly I was left with the sense that this book is trying too hard to appeal to a teenage audience through the inclusion of characters that the teens can identify with, which is an idea that I had thought was buried along with the other silly elements from the Golden Age.



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