Review – Catwoman Annual #1: Anatomy of Three Murders

Catwoman Annual #1 cover, via DC Comics.

Catwoman Annual #1 – Joelle Jones, Writer; Elena Casagrande, Scott Godlewski, Hugo Petrus, Artists; Jordie Bellaire, Colorist

Ratings:

Ray – 7.5/10

Corrina: Catwoman as Mentor?

Ray: The good news about Catwoman Annual #1 is that it’s one of the more compelling mysteries Joelle Jones has done in her time on the title. The bad news is that it’s built on the bodies of several teenage girls, in a grotesque twist that took the series to a far darker place than it usually goes (even with the sadistic zombie matriarch villain).

When the story opens, it involves several directors interrogating witnesses to a horrible crime that left three girls dead in a cult-like environment. The witnesses include a survivor of the girl gang, a mysterious young man shrouded in shadow, and Selina herself. The story takes on a bit of a Rashomon vibe, as it unravels the story from several different perspectives. It all starts with Selina taking in a “Stray”, a teenage girl she finds on the streets and sees more than a little of herself in. This would be a sweet twist that would speak nicely to Selina’s compassion – if it wasn’t for the fact that we see the girl’s body in the opening segment of the issue.

From there, a story unravels as the girl Selina took in brings some friends home and they nearly wreck Selina’s apartment. When one of them damages one of Selina’s quarry, she goes on a rant about why she steals – and it inspires the girls, who ask Selina to train them as thieves. What ensues is a fun adventure as they take on small-scale heists – until one of them suggests robbing the house of a shady Hollywood influencer, and they run into a grotesque horror show that leads three of them dead. The mystery is a little compressed into a single issue, and the introduction of a rather obscure main villain from DC history comes out of nowhere. Is this a character from the recent title of a similar name? I couldn’t tell you if asked. It’s an interesting issue that uses Jones’ noir influences effectively, but it feels like this could have been an arc that fleshed out everyone involved more.

The mystery unravels. Via DC Comics.

Corrina: I love, love the look of this issue. The art on this current Catwoman series has been consistently compelling, and no more so in this long story for the annual. I especially love the heavy use of blacks, which makes the colors around them pop more. It also suggests the darkness that surrounds Selina.

I’m going to admit that the dead teenage girls didn’t bother me as much as Ray did. The story focused on who they were, and what they meant to Selina, and how even she isn’t always the best judge of character or intentions. This was their story and it had a bad end but, still, an end that one could see coming, and that resulted from their own poor decisions, especially when they began to revel in what they were doing past the point where they should have.

However, the villain coming out of left field didn’t work and should have somehow related to how the girls had betrayed or used each other, leading to the deaths. Having it be an outsider somewhat invalidated the rest of the story.

So, it looks amazing, the setup is intriguing, but it fails to stick the landing.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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