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Catwoman: When in Rome #2

Posted: Monday, November 8, 2004
By: Dave Wallace



“Part Two: Tuesday”

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artists: Tim Sale (p&i), Dave Stewart (c)

Publisher: DC

After his cliffhanger death at the end of last issue, Catwoman heads out to discover more about how and why Don Verinni met his grisly demise. With clues pointing to the Joker’s involvement, a suspect blond bodyguard and a Riddle-happy sidekick all in the mix, Loeb is still keeping us guessing as to the final destination of this miniseries: there’s already enough here for a good story, but we get a surprising amount of plot development this issue, all feeling refreshingly quicker than usual – perhaps due to the confines of a 6-part miniseries as opposed to one of Loeb’s more epic 12 or 13-part arcs. Loeb writes confidently, displaying a sound understanding of the characters in the Batman universe whilst offering up some original ideas which suit them perfectly: Catwoman’s increasingly confident sultry sexuality is contrasted with the Riddler’s quirky discomfort and nerdiness, with “Blondie” proving an interesting – if still guardedly unknowable – foil for Selina’s antics. There’s humour here too, with the Riddler’s costume fixation proving a particular comic highlight. With a cool crime caper at its centre, a fun cast of characters, and some developments at this issue’s end which suggest a twist on the relationship between gangster criminals and the weaponry employed my the more flamboyant costumed goons, there’s still a lot of mileage in this series. There’s easily enough potential here for this to be another solid Loeb & Sale hit.

More casual readers or non-fans might find a couple of bones to pick with this issue: there’s an occasional over-reliance on T&A shots to sell Catwoman’s sexuality and there’s a repeat of the dream sequence idea from the first instalment; but both of these are so integral to the ideas that are being explored in this series that they don’t really jar with the overall tone. The latter explores the title character’s Batman/father-fixation in a fairly interesting and original way, and the semi-nude shots of Selina are all done so tastefully and beautifully that it’s impossible to complain. Indeed, the artwork for the title is some of Sale’s best to date, and never becomes repetitive or samey even after his superb showcase outing in the recent Solo #1 (which I would strongly urge fans to pick up). Some standout splashpages include a Spider-Man-esque rooftop chase from guard dogs, a drenched Catwoman confronting her enemies on a boat deck, a sultry bedsheet-encased Selina atop a surprise guest in her room, and their subsequent cool splash into a hotel swimming pool. When Sale’s pencils can really make you feel the atmosphere of a scene, or the emotion of a character (whether scared, humourous, uncomfortable or sexy) you know you’re onto a winner. Some of the gloss of the art also derives from the brilliant finishes of master-colourist Dave Stewart, which seems to add more depth than ever to Sale’s watercolour style.

To be honest, I’m enjoying this story a lot more than Loeb and Sale’s last Batman work on Dark Victory. It’s faster moving, isn’t taking its time in developing an over-complicated mystery, and is giving us a good few action scenes into the mix – as well as managing to be funny and sexy (sometimes at the same time). It’s a real pleasure to explore the creative team’s take on Catwoman a little more thoroughly, and any possible fears that she couldn’t support her own story after her fairly inconsequential Dark Victory appearances prove to be unfounded. A smart, witty and beautifully-rendered comic which isn’t as laborious to read in monthly instalments as one of Loeb’s longer-lasting arcs. Well worth a read.



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