"The One You Love, Part One"
Writer: Will Pfeifer
Artist: Pete Woods
Publisher: DC Comics
Plot: Catwoman is bothered by that recent trend of Gotham's East End becoming home to a number of unwelcome intrusions by the Black Mask's underlings. She enters into a questionable alliance with Hush, as he promises to keep the Black Mask out of the East End if Catwoman retrieves an item from S.T.A.R. labs. However, while she is able to make her way inside, getting out proves beyond her considerable abilities, and to make matters worse she accidentally unleashes an experimental gas that could endanger the East End.
Comments: While it's only been six issues since Ed Brubaker left the book, the gap between the creative teams felt much longer, and while the fill-in arcs were perfectly adequate, I'm quite happy that the new creative team has made its arrival as they bring a sense of excitement that this book needed. Now the book can get back to offering up stories with a lasting impact, rather than ones where the toys have to be put back exactly where they were when the writer entered the room. On one hand, I like how Will Pfeifer got the story off to a quick start as before the issue is over Catwoman has entered into a questionable alliance with a very dangerous character. Plus, on the action front, the character has gotten herself trapped in a heavily secured lab, and to make matters worse she has unleashed a deadly toxin that could very well kill everyone she cares for. On the other side of the equation though, I wonder if Will Pfeifer understands the character, as it struck me as downright odd that he would have the character plan a job but neglect to come up with any method of getting out once she had gotten in. Unlike most characters, Catwoman has never been one who flies by the seat of her pants when it comes to a heist. This issue makes it pretty clear that this is exactly the impression that Will Pfeifer is offering up. The issue also fails to address the fundamental question of why she decided to pull the job. If she never intended to deliver the item to Hush, then why did she even make the effort? I guess she wanted to get a look at the item that Hush wanted her to steal, so that she would have heads up on what he was planning, but wouldn't the character simply switch to plan B if he saw that plan A had been exposed? Going to such an effort seems like a pointless exercise. The Three Stooges style blunder that Catwoman makes in the final pages in order to provide the big cliff-hanger moment also felt rather clumsy from a writing standpoint. In the end this was a rather uneven start out of the gate, but if nothing else there is a nice sense of excitement in the art.
I became a big fan of Pete Woods during his run on Robin, but I was a little concerned when I first heard that he was set to be this book's new artist. His work is a little too clean around the edges for a title that has made its mark exploring the darker corners of the DCU. However, Pete Woods has adapted his style quite nicely as his work looks to have taken on a more photo-realistic quality, and any concern that I may have had about the art vanished after this book's opening bit of action, as Catwoman deals with a costumed criminal that has intruded upon the East End. Plus, any artist who is able to have Scarface come across as a genuine danger earns himself a gold star. While the entire concept of the character is inherently silly, it is quite easy for the art to pick up on this underlying goofy element. The sequence where Catwoman breaks into S.T.A.R. labs also provided for a nice display of her talents as a late night intruder. Getting covers by Adam Hughes is also a welcome addition to the creative team, as that's a great looking shot of the character that nicely plays up the whole catlike element of the character's movement.
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