Overview: In Catwoman #54, Selina and her gang work on their escape plan, hoping to navigate the dangers of the Queen of Hearts and Punchline on her way to confront the mob again.
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): Catwoman #54 begins in Gotham County Jail, as Selina confronts the Queen of Hearts, Regina, who was put in jail because of Eiko as Catwoman. Regina demands Catwoman’s identity, and Selina refuses after a fight. She plans with one of her girls, Marquise, to escape while the fight the Royal Flush Gang girls plan rages.
Tomcat (Dario Tomasso) and Catwoman (Eiko) fight the leftovers of the Royal Flush Gang, cleaning up Alleytown in preparation for Selina’s return.
Marquise fakes suicide using her powers as part of her own plan to use the morgue to escape, but accidentally lets in Punchline instead, hunting for Catwoman as well as Regina. Marquise runs to warn Selina, who reveals her identity as Catwoman, as they climb into the ceiling. In the yard, Marquise leads the girls to fight the Flushes, while on the rooftops, Catwoman attacks Punchline. Though Punchline taunts her, Catwoman beats her easily and invites her to join her new Society of Thieves. Marquise convinces Regina to join their breakout, and they all fight past the guards.
Elsewhere, the Four Families meet with Black Mask, and Catwoman arrives.
Analysis: As solicitations and advertising ramps up for the Batman vs Catwoman crossover event building in the aftermath of Knight Terrors this fall, Tini Howard wraps up the many threads she’s put in place through the Catwoman series and the Punchline miniseries she co-wrote with her husband Blake.
If you’ve been reading both titles, it might be nice to see all the pieces fall into place, except for the fact that none of the pieces fit together or make sense. The conclusion of the Punchline series (more of an abrupt stop, as it’s clear that the series was nothing more than six extra issues of Catwoman anyway) didn’t leave the Queen of Hearts or Punchline in a place where either their “plan” to attack Catwoman or their agreement to work with Catwoman make any sense whatsoever. Punchline, in particular, poses no threat whatsoever, being easily fooled by Marquise and then beaten with no sweat by Catwoman.
Now, this is Catwoman’s book, but there’s absolutely no challenge that she faces in this book at all, leading to a sense that there’s nothing at stake at all. The concluding scene, supposedly threatening to kill Eiko because of her promise when she blew up her yacht to disguise her alliance with Catwoman, again has no stakes, as these mobsters have lost every single time they’ve gone up against Eiko and Selina. While Tomcat continues to be incredibly cringe and has a ridiculously lazy way of pushing implausible exposition, the character of Marquise does leave an interesting impression with her powers and relationship with Selina. All in all, more incoherent plotting and pointless action in Howard’s writing, with just enough potential to tease what she could do with a better editor or a better co-writer.
Series artist Nico Leon continues to provide serviceable artwork, with the gained confidence in linework to give us some bold, clean lines, especially when Selina reveals herself as Catwoman in the middle of the book. All in all, though, the book continues to be competent on the art side rather than exciting.
David Nakayama continues his series of main covers featuring Eiko with Catwoman #54, with the (dreadfully drab) Tomcat backing her up as she awkwardly wields a wakizashi with a bonsai tree next to her (which feels a tad bit stereotypical). Joshua Sway provides the first variant, a Catwoman lying on a canted red field, with dollar bills floating around her (and a foil variant of this same image rounding out the 1 in 50 incentive cover). Sweeney Boo, Howard’s collaborator on the Harley Quinn title, provides a fun Eiko stomping on the audience’s face variant, and Rian Gonzales pops over after finishing her lovely Batgirls watercolor incentive variants with a lovely Catwoman incentive variant, featuring her trademark rainbows against a Batsignal night sky. All of the covers except the foil variant feature the nicely designed Dawn of DC trade dress, a nice bit of unity with the line.
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.
Muddled plotting, incoherent face turns, pointless action, with a few interesting bits of character thrown in - Tini Howard’s Catwoman run continues on form.