"War Games: Act 3, Part 7: Multiple Fronts"
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artists: Paul Gulacy (p), Jimmy Palmiotti (i)
Publisher: D.C. Comics
As Catwoman's city-wide search for Spoiler leads to a run-in with Zeiss, the hired assassin who nearly killed her during their last encounter, the story than shifts to outside Oracle's Clocktower, where we see the Black Mask has assembled a sizeable force to storm the building, as he mistakenly believes the place to be the Bat-Cave. Back with Catwoman we see her discover that Zeiss is actually quite easy to beat once one stops being afraid of him.
I can understand why Ed Brubaker would want to offer up a rematch between Zeiss and Catwoman, and I can even accept the idea that he would want to use the battle to sell the idea that Catwoman would be able to hold her own in a fight against an opponent that even Batman is hesitant to do battle with. However, this issue takes what could've been a pretty exciting rivalry between these two characters and tosses it aside so it can put Catwoman up on a pedestal. I mean instead of being an intense back and forth clash where Catwoman emerges as the winner thanks to her willingness to square off against a formidable opponent, instead we get a puff piece where Catwoman makes Zeiss look like a complete novice, and apparently we're supposed to be impressed. I've always been a fan of the battles where the villain is able to give as good as he gets, something which this issue's clash doesn't offer up. Now based on his previous efforts on this title I had been lead to believe that Ed Brubaker clearly understood the idea of delivering strong villains, but with this issue I'm starting to feel that Ed Brubaker's impending departure from this title is actually a good move, as his recent efforts have lacked the sense of excitement and adventure that made this title into one of the most enjoyable DC titles on the stands. I also have some reservations about the subplot that has Batman continually ignoring Barbara's calls for help because he's far to busy pulling off what is revealed to be a fairly simple escape.
Paul Gulacy has style that lends itself quite nicely to the action sequences, and since this issue is essentially one running action scene, the art manages to impress. From the display of constant motion as Catwoman hands Zeiss his head, to the sense of impending danger as Black Mask and his allies make their way through the Clocktower's defences, Paul Gulacy turned in a very solid issue. Now I will say I was a little disappointed by his work when it comes to the backgrounds, as there were a few too many panels where the characters were moving through empty voids, but in the end it's delivery of some wonderful impact shots more than made up for lack of background detailing. I mean how can one not love the shot where Catwoman's boot nails Zeiss in the kisser, or the Black Mask's solution to the high-intensity laser-field. I didn't care much for the cover shot though, as Batman simply looked he was pasted into the image without any thought to how the firelight would impact his appearance.
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