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Catwoman: When In Rome

Posted: Wednesday, December 7, 2005
By: Craig Johnson

By Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
Publisher: DC/Titan Books

Spanning over six decades as Batman's greatest nemesis/love, Catwoman is one of comics' most popular and enduring villainesses, and now the star of a new movie! When Selina Kyle - also known as the sometime super-criminal Catwoman - embarks on a mission of grand larceny in Rome (with a little self-discovery on the side), the last person she expects to team up with is the Riddler. But when a host of Gotham's other villains arrive on the scene, including the crazed Cheetah, Selina will need to think fast if she's going to survive! From the multiple award-winning team behind "Batman: Dark Victory" and "Batman: The Long Halloween" comes an unforgettable Roman holiday for "Catwoman"!

Partway through the trade Batman: Dark Victory, Catwoman disappears from the story, only to re-appear six months later revealing only that she’d been to Italy. This volume reveals why she went (to try to trace her true mother and father) and what she did (coupled with some honestly pointless action sequences) and how she did it (not to mention the Italian dialogue grating in the book – okay, so the reader could go off to babel and try to find out a translation, but, really, it’s not good enough to not even have it included as, say, a one-page appendix at the back of the book).

You may say “well, does that mean this book is virtually useless as a standalone graphic novel” to which the answer would be a resounding yes. Kicking off referring to events in the aforementioned series, and ending with two pages taken from the last chapter of that book, Selina Kyle/Catwoman acts fairly dumb in places, such that sometimes it feels like she’s being dumb (e.g. in not realising who is actually behind some of the things happening to her, and in forgetting nicknames used in her civilian identity and using the same in her “professional” capacity) purely the sake of expediency for the plot. The feeling throughout is the old back of a fag packet job, and this is enhanced by the paltry extras showing how Tim Sale took a page of the not-shown plot and interpreted it on the page….the text from Sale implies that very little in the way of stage direction or detail was given by Loeb, leaving him to frame the money shot on the page in question almost from scratch.

Having said that, Sale’s art is just as moody and atmospheric as in his previous Bat-books, it’s truly high quality, lavished with care and attention throughout (although for DC to mention the back covers contained postcard images in the introduction yet fail to include them in the book shows that maybe only Sale gave this book the time it deserved). The story and the script flowed nicely, but didn’t grab my attention in the slightest – I was dipping into and out of the book over the course of a few days, not really being interested enough to read it in one sitting (as happened with Dark Victory, for example), so it’s really only one for previous purchasers of The Long Halloween and Dark Victory, for the sake of completeness, or for devotees of Sale’s art for numerous classic shots throughout the book.



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