Overview: Freshly escaped from prison, Catwoman reconnects with Eiko and Dario to recruit and train them for her new plan to take over Gotham’s crime in Catwoman #55.
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): As Catwoman #55 begins, Catwoman attacks the meeting of the Five Families at the Kitty Kat Club, and Black Mask orders his men to open fire. Catwoman helps Eiko escape, and they are both helped by a group of strippers.
Dario meets with his ex-lover Noah, and after a brief fight, Noah challenges him to an alley duel later, which Dario accepts.
At the Trixie Hotel, Selina briefly mourns her lover Valmont, who she killed, then comforts Dario, who is distraught about the upcoming duel and tells Selina that Eiko needs backup.
At Gotham Harbor, Eiko’s Yakuza fight the Ibanescu sex traffickers, and Eiko supports them as Catwoman. Later, Catwoman asks Eiko to stop being Catwoman since she’s back and needs Eiko as a mob boss.
Selina trains Dario to fight and to be a leader, and then the two of them assault Dario’s father’s house, offering to make him a partner in Selina’s crime organization, but he warns Black Mask instead.
Analysis: Tini Howard’s Catwoman is back on track with the Selina vs. Black Mask and organized crime storyline that she started in issue #44. After the incredibly messy Punchline/prison crossover and the two inexplicable road trip arcs, it is a good sign that the starting plotline is back in the spotlight. Unfortunately, that spotlight doesn’t bring new focus or competence. Characters continue to make completely incoherent decisions. Selina fears the wrath of Black Mask on the strippers of the Kitty Kat Club, but when they blatantly lie to his face about letting her escape, he just turns away and ignores them instead of even the expected brutal slap, let alone gunning them down as he just a minute earlier tried to do to Catwoman and Eiko. Selina suddenly starts trying to train Dario as a leader – despite him clearly being a natural follower and supporter and very good at it. Hopefully, Selina letting Don Tomasso call Black Mask at the end of the book was on purpose. Otherwise, it’s yet another miscalculation of a supposedly powerful and intelligent main character that ends up making her look incredibly incompetent and dumb.
Nico Leon continues as the main artist for the run, and sadly, after the improvement of the last issue, his work here in Catwoman #55 has a lot of serious disconnects during the action scenes. When Noah pulls a knife on Dario, and Dario shoves him away, the distance between the two is extremely poorly depicted, leading to a strong sense of a panel missing. Similarly, Eiko goes from a spotter position above the dock fight to smack in the middle of the mafia gunmen with zero transition or sense of geographical transition. All in all, Leon’s sense of closure needs a lot more work to build a solid action sequence from panel to panel. However, Leon’s placement of panels and page construction is quite good in the book – several sequences have a very pleasing rhythm to them. Veronica Gandini continues to do strong work on coloring.
David Nakayama’s main cover highlights Eiko and Selina’s conflict – which makes sense since his covers have spotlighted Eiko for the last several issues in his trademark shiny style. Sweeney Boo produces a similarly shiny solo Selina vaulting through security lasers for her first cardstock variant. Dan Panosian’s vivid black-on-yellow cardstock cover highlights Selina jumping from a rooftop, surrounded by loudly (and cutely) meowing cats – and the same image is used for the 1 in 50 foil variant. Frank Cho provides an AAPI variant with Sabine Rich featuring Eiko as Catwoman, though less stylized than Nakayama usually draws her outfit. Lastly, Rian Gonzales paints the 1 in 25 incentive variant, featuring a Selina dressed half as Catwoman, and half in a slinky ballgown with a cat on her shoulder, highlighting her dual nature in Gonzales’ trademark cute watercolor style.
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.
Howard and Leon’s latest chapter in Catwoman’s adventures is back to the main plot of the run, but a decreased coherence in the action, matching the continued incoherence of the writing, leaves the book still a mess.