Catwoman (vol.2) #1 (January, 2002)
“Anodyne, Part One of Four”
Writer – Ed Brubaker
Penciller – Darwyn Cooke
Inker – Mike Allred
Colorist – Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer – Sean Konot
Assistant Editor – Nachie Castro
Editor – Matt Idelson
Cover Price: $2.50
Was filing away some books I’d snagged in the cheap-o’s a few weeks back, and came across this most excellent volume of Catwoman. I love coming across parts of my collection that I’d (almost) forgotten about. Been too long since I’ve read this one… let’s read it together, shall we?
We open with a… working girl soliciting a ride from a fella. We’ll call him
John Brian. When asked for her name she bites her lips and lies. It’s no bother though… Brian ain’t here to talk anyway. She hops in and they get right down to it, locking lips. She pulls away after getting a look at his face. He seems to get self conscious and yells at her to stop looking at him… from there it’s academic. He bashes her head through the window and proceeds to pound on her… likely until she passes.
From there, we enter into a hellish dreamscape. Selina Kyle is surrounded by animated Catwoman costumes.
Turns out she’s explaining her dream to Dr. Leslie Thompkins. The Doc gives Selina some basic TV psychoanalysis, and tells her she’s well on her way to getting “better”. She analyzes the dream as a subconscious battle for identity. Selina claims to have not worn the costume for the past six-months. Doc reinforces that any change Selina wants is in her hands.
On the street, Selina passes some seedy pushers and ignores their advances. She heads to her current residence, which is a safe-house she’s kept ever since her days as a working girl. It was a place she shared with her “sisters”, a sanctuary for them to go to when it was needed. For the past six months, Selina herself needed it… apparently, she is supposed to be dead. Having not read the end of the previous volume, I can’t speak to that… I’ll just take Ed/Selina’s word for it! As she settles in, we get a quick ‘n dirty rundown of her costumed career… which, if I’m not mistaken, includes a nod to Batman: Year One. Love stuff like that!
From out of the window, arose such a clatter… Selina popped her head out to see what’s the matter. Outside, there’s a violent scene going on. Batman is in the midst of a battle with the Riddler and his gang. She spies Batman just about to take a bullet to the back, and so she chucks a brick at the gunman’s noggin just in the nick of time.
After this, Selina decides to blow off some steam by doing some rooftop parkour. As she goes, it’s more than just her legs that are running. Thoughts run through her head… she’s still trying to place herself. She’s not right… she’s not wrong… she’s that space between. She’s come to a decision.
She returns her pad, and retrieves her costume. The purple one. She gives it one look before chucking it into the garbage.
From there, she puts together the ensemble most contemporary Catwoman fans are familiar with. From the “letters page” that follows the story, we learn that Darwyn Cooke created this thing from soup to nuts… er, goggles. It really is an amazing design… so simple, yet so detailed. Definitely an outfit that can look great no matter who draws it… however, under Cooke’s pencils… it really is amazing.
She takes to the streets on her first patrol in half a year. Of course… she runs into Batman. They chat a bit. She wonders why he’s always been there for her. He tells her that he’s never had any doubt that underneath it all, she’s a good person. It looks as though they might embrace, but Catwoman playfully pushes off his chest, launching herself in a beautiful dive. Ya see, these two can be on a rooftop together without “doing it”.
Selina returns home… to the sanctuary. She’s snuggling with her cat when she hears a jostling at her front door. Thinking it’s some lock-picker, she heads to the door to “greet” them. Much to her surprise, it’s a young lady named Holly. An acquaintance from her “old life”. Holly knew about the sanctuary… and needed a place to crash. Seeing Selina there, she assumes she’s back in “the business”, so she gives her the warning… there’s somebody killing “us” out there…
This series always reminds me of candy. Not sure if that makes any sense, but it’s really the best way I can describe it. The first couple of years for this title were amazing. Not sure if it kept up the quality level… it sadly fell under my “ax” around mid-2004 along with a whole bunch of titles I was following at the time.
I was always hesitant to pick up Catwoman during her previous volume… seemed like just a lot of big hair and big boobs. One of those books that I’d kinda be embarrassed if my mother saw me buy. I’ve since learned that a lot of that series was actually pretty damn good, and have since written the aesthetic off as just being a product of the times.
This Catwoman volume just looked immediately inviting… even with limited “experience” with the character, this issue does a fantastic job of dropping the reader into the moment with Selina. It’s a turning point in her life, and we are given the opportunity to watch her choose the direction her life is going to go. All good stuff.
Dr. Leslie Thompkins does some decent “TV” psychotherapy… good enough for a superhero story, and helps get Selina from point A to B. She usually makes for a good storytelling device… a good sounding board, allowing for natural character progression rather than reading thought balloon after thought balloon of expository hoo-ha.
This is a rather mature story… however, it is handled well. Ya know, Selina’s got a backstory… it’s, questionable, depending on your mileage… but it’s there, and it’s nice to see it addressed here.
I’ve always really dug Ed Brubaker’s DC work, and this is no exception. Darwyn Cooke’s stylistic pencils are a most welcome addition to this book lending to its unique and inviting aesthetic… I love his Riddler… really cool! Great start to a great run. The whole shebang is available digitally, so definitely give it a look-see if you’re so inclined.
|It took me well over an hour to even get to my first random encounter
Still fun tho…