Editor’s Note: Due to the anthology nature of this collection, we will feature a synopsis and analysis for each short story, rather than breaking up the synopsis and analysis. Spoilers are sure to be revealed.
Story #1: “Skin the Cat” by writer Paul Dini and artist Emanuela Lupacchino
Synopsis: Some exotic wild cats have turned up missing, including those Selina Kyle donated to a special habitat. As she searches for them, she finds what appears to be the remains of the missing felines. They’ve been killed and stuffed for display. There’s another display that looks like a bedroom littered with stuffed house cats – a trap to capture Catwoman. Selina suddenly feels woozy, apparently from breathing in knockout gas. The taxidermist appears, revealing himself as the culprit in the entire ordeal. He wants Selina to be a part of his collection. As the Taxidermist moves in for the final kill, Catwoman pounces. There was no gas as she turned it off hours ago, and she figured out that she was the actual target. His ruse became hers. As he continues to chase her throughout the fake habitat, Selina says that she found the missing big cats, who were still alive; she just had to convince them to stay quiet and still. At that point, the cats jump from the darkness and attack their kidnapper for their own brand of justice.
Analysis: Several stories within the anniversary special come across as uninteresting and of them all, this might be the worst. The entire plot just to get to the introduction of the Taxidermist was not good. At best, the art was okay. Because the story is bad, the art does little to help this segment.
Story #2: “Now You See Me” by writer Ann Nocenti and artist Robson Rocha
Synopsis: Catwoman needs a safe place to stash her loot, and she finds a pigeon coop to keep it safe. But she’s not alone. A camera moves into place and watches as she stashes her goods. Inside the security office, a guard watches Selina on camera while his coworker analyzes various types of donuts. He decides to go on patrol and leaves while the other guard watches a couple argue on one of the screens.
Outside, Selina perches on a ledge waiting for whoever was watching her on camera to come out and try to swipe her loot. Eventually, the guard makes his way upstairs and gets the stash from the pigeon coop. Catwoman pounces. As the guard attempts to strike a partnership with her, she doesn’t take the bait and attacks. The two continue to fight on the rooftop. Meanwhile, in the security office, the other guard remains oblivious to what’s happening and instead calls GCPD for the couple arguing on the outside sidewalk.
On the roof, the battle is slowly coming to an end. The guard doesn’t realize that something is ticking in his pocket. Catwoman uses a small detonator to send him flying off the roof on top of the Penguin’s umbrella below, ruining his well-devised plan.
Analysis: The best thing about this story is the art. The story itself was very uninteresting. I’m not certain which was worse, the donut-analyzing guard or the one who actually thought he could create a partnership with Catwoman.
Story #3: “Helena” by writer Tom King and artist Mikel Janin
Synopsis: Bruce finishes his scan of Selina, who has been feeling ill. She worries that it’s cancer. A sly smirk ensures Selina it’s something far different from that, and Selina is NOT happy.
Time moves on, and we find Catwoman being her rebellious self. She’s fighting goons with Batman on the rooftop, drinking her favorite wine while overlooking the Gotham Bridge, and assisting Batman in taking out members of the Rogues’ Gallery.
Time continues, and Selina is clearly showing her baby belly. She is second-guessing herself as a future mother and wants to return to her life flying from the rooftops over Gotham. She continues to doubt herself until… it’s time.
Time moves on, and the newest Wayne is crying for attention. Selina does her best to calm her baby down, reminding her of how lucky she is. As Selina holds her close to her, the baby calms down.
Time moves one last time, and Selina is walking with her daughter, now fully grown. They’re discussing how she is so much like her father. Surprised at the idea, she asks her mother if that is truly how she feels. Selina says that there was one trait her daughter got from her – the ability to steal. When asked what she could have taken, Selina tells her daughter that she stole her heart.
Analysis: This is the best story of the special. One of Tom King’s best qualities has always been his ability to tell a great short story. Helena, which flows from the pages of the great love story he told in Batman Annual #2, was a wonderful, touching story that could have easily been included in the annual. The final panels serve as the perfect epilogue. The team of Mikel Janin and Jordie Bellaire is always a sight for sore eyes. Now bring on Bat/Cat.
Story 4: “The Catwoman of Earth” by writer Jeff Parker and artist Jonathan Case
Synopsis: Catwoman and her henchmen are pulling off a stick-up at the Gotham Science Fair. As she revels in the take for the day, a UFO appears over the crowd. The ship’s occupants, which include two males and a female, appear and announce themselves. Seeing earthlings as their inferiors, they look to enslave the planet.
Selina is having none of this, and she proclaims herself Earth’s protector. This confuses the would-be invaders as females are considered subservient to males. As one of the male beings attack, Catwoman springs into action, using everything at her disposal to take out the aliens and their accompanying monsters and robots. Selina’s prowess impresses the female alien, who has never seen a female act in such ways. Catwoman finally takes out the leader.
Gracious for saving them, the crowd attempts to hand Catwoman the precious jewels as a reward for protecting them. It doesn’t feel right though, especially considering she’s about to be arrested by approaching police. To her surprise, the female alien offers her a lift in the spaceship in exchange for teaching her how to be more like Earth women. They fly off as the male aliens are taken away in handcuffs.
Analysis: This was a nice throwback to the Batman ’66 universe. It was corny and funny but also showed off Selina’s prowess as a woman in the face of danger. Jonathan Case’s art adds to making this a fun, comical story. While I never got into the Batman ’66 series, I have been a fan of Jeff Parker’s work and that extends with this piece.
Story 5: “A Cat of Nine Tales” by writer and artist Liam Sharp
Synopsis: Catwoman is looking to make a quick getaway after breaking into a vault, but she’s stopped by Charlie, a security guard. She explains to him that there are nine ways that their interaction could end, and she begins to go through each one, which includes her killing him and he killing her. By the time she finishes the ninth option, Charlie faints, an option Selina hadn’t considered, but she’ll take it.
Analysis: This was actually a decent, quick story that did cause me to chuckle a few times, particularly at the end. It would have been nice if there was a way to stretch this story out. Considering the plot, however, this was impossible. But this was a nice, funny portrayal of the cocky, bad-ass Catwoman.
Story 6: “Little Bird” by writer Mindy Newell and artist Lee Garbett
Synopsis: Inside the Beth Am Senior Residence, the news is discussing the story of a rare find from a flea market. One of the residents, barely conscious, suddenly wakens, saying nothing but the word “mine.” In another part of town, Selina is watching the same story. She too stakes a claim to the artifact. As she steals the mezuzah from the museum it’s now housed at, she flashes back to a time when the sees it for the first time as a kid while living in a foster home. Batman confronts Selina about the missing artifact, which she denies taking.
After some soul-searching, Catwoman sneaks into the senior residence to visit her former foster mother, who is near death. She gives her one last kiss before placing an envelope in her hands. The following day, the residence’s administrator reads the letter, which states the final instruction of the patient’s care and that, upon death, that the mezuzah is buried with her.
Analysis: Not to take away from the story itself, which was pretty nice, but I absolutely loved the art. The throwback to Batman: Year One was wonderful. This includes the color scheme and the lettering, which all seemed similar to the original story. I’ve always been a fan of Lee Garbett.
This story was very touching. We’ve seen different stories of Selina as a child, but this one seems slightly different as we briefly see her relationship with Malke Morgenstern. It was also interesting seeing her battle her conscious over whether she should have kept the artifact that Malke told her was rightfully hers. If there was one thing that could have been left out, it was the panels of Selina “escorting.”
Story 7: “Born to Kiln” by writer Chuck Dixon and artist Kelley Jones
Synopsis: Catwoman swims through Gotham Harbor for a ship that contains a trinket she wants. She realizes she’s not alone in wanting the emerald she’s seeking as she finds multiple bodies covered in mud. In the captain’s quarters, she finds that Clayface has beaten her to the prize. Still, Selina is determined to seize it from him. As they tussle, Catwoman finds herself at a disadvantage. She finally gets a reprieve by trapping Clayface in a kiln, turning it on, and baking him until he becomes solid. This allows Catwoman to claim the prize at her adversary’s detriment.
Analysis: This could’ve been a truly fun story. Anyone who knows me, however, knows that Kelly Jones is one of my least favorite artists. There are plenty of fans that don’t like how he draws Batman. I’m one who doesn’t like the way he draws at all. It completely took me out of this story. What adds to my dismay is that this is the only story with Catwoman in my favorite outfit (somewhat).
Story 8: “Conventional Wisdom” by writer Will Pfeifer and artist Pia Guerra
Synopsis: Selina stands at the entrance to Bat Con, receiving instructions on her pending autograph session. Everyone seems oblivious to the guy laying across the floor. As she sits, she’s joined by Bruce Wayne and next to him are the Joker and other members of the Rogues’ Gallery. They reminisce about various events of comic book history including those which involved Catwoman.
Confused, Selina leaves and looks to find answers about what’s going on. She finds another man beaten on the floor. He blames her for his condition. Selina is then dragged to a panel. Here, she begins to remember what’s going on as she receives hints from questions asked of her. A device appears next to her as a fan in a Doctor Destiny outfit questions her about a recent theft. Realizing that the device is the key to it all, she throws it to the ground. Now awake, Catwoman prepares for one last battle with Doctor Destiny.
Analysis: This is yet another story that really could have been slightly better if there wasn’t the limit of being in a collected book. It was fun seeing a bewildered Selina living life in a comic book and revisiting her history via fan costumes and questions. The art added to the enjoyment of the story. The one turnoff is the ending. I’m not certain if in the position of the writer, that I would have selected Doctor Destiny as the big bad for the story. This notwithstanding, this was a fun story to see some history while experiencing life at a convention.
Absolute best panel – the guy wearing the T-shirt with Catwoman in the purple costume (again, my favorite). This is how it should be drawn.
Story 9: “Addicted to Trouble” by writer Ram V and artist Fernando Blanco
Synopsis: Selina and Maggie finally take their leave of Villa Hermosa. Their travels take them through several states, each with various adventures. As they reach their final destination, Gotham City, the sisters enjoy one last evening meal and laugh. The next day, Selina ponders her next move.
Analysis: As with every anniversary special DC has put out thus far, a story is included that ties to the ongoing comic. Ram V’s (who was recently announced as taking over Catwoman at issue #25) story does this. The story concludes Selina’s time on the West Coast in Villa Hermosa and returns her to the streets of Gotham City. I truly enjoyed how V slowly returned Maggie to her sister to the point at the end where they can eat and laugh together while overlooking the city at night.
My one concern, though, is the gap in time. There’s no mention of the events of the City of Bane, no mention of finding Bruce on the mountain. The coffee shop Selina sits at on the following morning looks bright and peaceful. What timeline is this story in? Will Ram V tie things together or will we get a lot of holes via off-paneling? Find out in Catwoman #25.
Story 10: “The Art of Picking a Lock” by writer Ed Brubaker and artist Cameron Stewart
Synopsis: Selina reflects on her childhood as she and Holly Robinson search for a friend. Holly picks up on a cab as Catwoman races across the city to catch up with them. The driver of the cab, dying from self-exposure to Joker gas drives the cab off the pier. Selina arrives and immediately jumps into the water. She swims to the trunk where she picks the lock, freeing trapped PI Slam Bradley from meeting his end.
Back on dry land, they chastise the rugged Bradley for trying to pursue the Joker on his own. He realizes the mistake but warns them of the Joker’s plan. Before asking for a cigarette, he tells Selina to contact “her friend.”
Analysis: This was a different story. I have never seen Holly Robinson in the role of a hero, per se. The last time we saw Holly, she was plotting with Bane to ruin Bruce and Selina’s wedding. Seeing her in this role, helping Catwoman save Slam Bradley (another blast from the past) was a different take but still a nice touch.
Final Thoughts: I really wanted to enjoy this special more than I did. While there were a few good stories (especially King’s), others really missed the mark. Of the specials DC has released thus far, this is the weakest of them. Even the pinups that were spread throughout the special were at best, just okay, with ONE exception – Jim Balent’s pinup of Catwoman in the purple outfit. I did enjoy the throwbacks to previous covers. For me, even the decade variant covers were lackluster compared to the other specials. Selina Kyle is more deserving than what we received.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with a copy of this comic for review purposes. You can find this comic digitally and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this issue through Comixology.