In part I think because of its proximity of release to Red Hood and the Outlaws, Judd Winick and Guillem March’s take on Catwoman got unfairly eviscerated by a lot of people. Voodoo, which features even more explicit nudity and sexuality than Catwoman but was released a week later, largely avoided the controversy, after all. And while I certainly had some issues with Catwoman #1, I said this: “While I do hope that the levels of cheesecake are toned down in the future – at this stage, it feels deeply exploitative to an almost satirical degree – I can’t deny that the issue was fun, energetic and lively.” So, two months later, what’s going on in Catwoman?
Catwoman #3 picks up shortly after #2 left off – Catwoman captured by the man she recently robbed, her closest friend killed. I was briefly worried that March and Winick would force me to read some ‘sexy’ torture, but they thankfully avoided any hint of sexual violence. Selina quickly escaped and took down her captors before going after their boss. And getting him. And almost killing him. And the story doesn’t even end there.
One of the charms of Winick’s take on Catwoman is his frankly hyper-active pacing; these first three issues have burned through more story than most of the rest of the New 52 combined. He’s gone light on the character work, attempting almost pure action-adventure storytelling, and for me at least, it’s working. Unlike, say, Justice League #3, this isn’t a wall-to-wall fight scene, but a series of competently constructed segments building to create a more exciting whole.
March’s art has always been crisp and lovely; seeing it here, divorced from the cheesecake he is most known for, is something of a revelation. The book has solid action sequences with a real sense of movement, but March’s real talent here is the people. His exaggerated style gives the characters a real physical presence, thoroughly enhanced by Tomeu Morey’s excellent coloring work.
Now, that said, all the same problems are still there. This is not Ed Brubaker’s legendary run on Catwoman. Despite the stark emotional pain Winick puts Catwoman through in this issue, I don’t doubt that Selina will end up mostly nude at least once next month. But that’s okay (… with reservations). Winick’s Catwoman may be sexy, but that doesn’t make her weak. As long as Catwoman maintains its thrilling, breakneck pace – and it unquestionably does in this issue – without betraying Selina’s character, it will be a solid entry in the New 52.
– Cal C.