Overview: While Eiko and Dario fight mob battles on the outside in Catwoman #53, Selina plots and trains her girls on the inside.
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): Catwoman #53 begins at O’Mara’s bar, as Eiko Hasigawa attacks mob boss Finbar Sullivan for orchestrating and betting on fatal gladiator fights, but Onyx takes over, so Eiko heads off with Dario “Tomcat,” a terrible but improving new driver.
Selina wakes up in solitary again, sees men with power tools closing up her cat-holes, and attacks – but the guards overpower her and warn her she doesn’t have that communication line anymore. In the cafeteria, Marquise greets her, and Selina shows the burner phone she stole from the construction worker (that he uses to cheat on his wife). She calls Tomcat and Eiko, giving them an update, but they refuse to go along with her orders to get out of town. Selina then orders her “girls” to get a charger for the phone, gets Tomcat’s update about Punchline’s plan to kill Eiko and Selina, and decides to break out – with all of her girls she can manage. She convinces her girls to form a thieves’ society (including charity donations) instead of an organized mob with a boss at her fight training.
Tomcat and Eiko Catwoman observe Dario’s father doing shady deeds but are attacked by the Queen of Hearts and her Crazy Eights henchmen. The Queen notices that Eiko isn’t Selina, but Eiko knocks her out and delivers her to the police. Selina sees the new inmates and changes her escape plans.
Analysis: Tini Howard’s confusing sort-of crossover storyline in her Catwoman run with her Punchline co-written miniseries continues, once again joined by original series artist Nico Leon. Once again, every character’s actions are mind-numbingly stupid, but the plot forces them to succeed or fail regardless of motives, plausibility, and above all, competence. Howard’s dialogue, back to her relentlessly self-righteous faux-snark peak, manages to add sloppy and grossly stereotypical to its list of accomplishments in the Queen of Hearts fight. Howard also attempts to persuade the reader of Catwoman #53 that Catwoman can inspire her girls to form a perfect communist society of thieves without any hierarchy – we’ll see if she makes it work once the girls break out with Selina. All in all, the book’s writing has found new depths to plumb in terms of quality and thematic exploration, an impressive feat given how low Howard has set the bar with this run so far.
Nico Leon’s art has improved since he started on this run, and he manages to create a really nice homage to tux-wearing Selina from Genevieve Valentine’s N52 run by Garry Brown, with Eiko’s chopsticks making the look her own early in the story. The fight scenes and Crazy Eights designs are nicely created, though the structuring of the fight is sadly extremely predictable and unsatisfying. It’s nice seeing the storytelling and figure work improving after a year on the book.
David Nakayama’s cover, though the shiny textures on Eiko’s cowl and costume seem out of place for the book, nicely highlights Eiko holding cards picturing the King and Queen on fire. Serg Acuna, jumping over from The Flash and Tim Drake: Robin interiors and covers, provides a dramatic and sexy homage to Alex Ross’s famous painting of Batman’s back covered in scars, with Selina posing in the same way – beautifully done shadows and musculature! Sweeney Boo (over from Harley Quinn with Howard’s writing) paints a sweetly mischievous Catwoman surrounded by roses, draped in pearls – also featured as a foil variant for the 1 in 50 incentive. After her gorgeous series of Batgirls incentive variants, Rian Gonzales provides a very cute Catwoman lying on a pile of gold, with many tiny chibi figures surrounding her winking visage. Lastly, Fables cover artist Qistina Khalidah paints a lovely rendition of Catwoman lounging, admiring jewelry as a hairless cat arches its back behind her.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with a copy of this comic for review purposes. You can find this comic and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this issue digitally on Comixology through Amazon or a physical copy of the title through Things From Another World.
Incompetent dialogue, structuring, and character writing combine with improved art for a continued misery of a read.