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Catwoman #42

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By Genevieve Valentine, David Messina, Lee Loughridge

Catwoman is one of the best books on DC Comics’ shelves, and a lot has changed since the start of the New 52. This largely thanks to the awesome work of writer Genevieve Valentine, who, along with artist David Messina and colourist Lee Loughridge, knocks it out of the park with another excellent issue that continues to elevate this book to must-read status. It’s slick, stylish and well written, and with a guest appearance from Stephanie Brown, aka Spoiler, one of this reviewer’s favourite DC characters, it was great to see that this issue wasn’t a disappointment.

The politics are really handled well in this issue and it’s a great insight into the running of the mob family, offering a different take from the rest of the standard superhero fare of the other bat-books. DC have been aiming for a unique approach with each of their individual titles and in the Gotham line at least, not one is the same, with the mob heavy Catwoman being remarkably different from the occult Gotham by Midnight or the fun, optimistic Batgirl. Chances are whatever you want, the Gotham books will have them and that’s great news. This issue in particular puts an unlikely pairing of two of Gotham’s rogues into the forefront and we get a partnership of the Penguin and Selina, and it’s handled pretty well, with the Penguin in her pocket as head of the Calabrese family. Or is he? The Black Mask has a role to play in this as well, but it was nice seeing the Penguin there nonetheless as it’s clear he isn’t one to pick a definitive side, with his overall goal being to become the ultimate king of Gotham. Whilst other stories would keep this as a twist and keep the Penguin’s ulterior motives as secret, that’s not the case with Catwoman, because this is something that Selina knows and openly address with him. Whether he’s planning something big remains to be seen, but it will no doubt be a pretty awesome one.

And the troubles in Selina’s life don’t end there. She isn’t on the best of terms with Spoiler after her actions in Batman Eternal, and the interactions with Stephanie Brown were handled pretty well, as Selina is still trying to decide who she really wants to be, with the Head of the Calabrese Family and Catwoman being two very different job requirements. And of course there’s Eiko lurking in the background as well, ready to become the new Catwoman.

Lee Loughridge’s colours are pretty awesome and match up well with David Messina’s artwork, which when combined, allows for some great atmosphere created and we really get a sense and feel of the Gotham City location. However, one thing that didn’t quite work out as well as it should was the Spoiler/Selina showdown, which although handled well with Selina’s narration, didn’t really work in practise. However, that said, outside of the action scenes, the book is pretty much good in the artwork everywhere else, with the nice attention to detail coming through in the panels, and the various players involved; Catwoman, Spoiler and the Penguin, were all drawn pretty well. So it’ll be interesting to see what comes next artistic wise, because a few problems aside it’s fairly reliable at the moment.

This book continues to combine the street fighting that Catwoman readers will be familiar with and the mob politics that has played a major part in the previous arc, making it the perfect blend for readers who want a bit of both, and thanks to the strong writing provided by Valentine, as well as the good artwork from Messina and Loughridge, Catwoman, with the current creative team, continues to be a smart, welcome addition to DC’s stable of quality bat-books. And one of the best, too.

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