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Catwoman Vol. 1: The Game (The New 52) Review

7 min read

While a few lives may be shaved off, it just adds to the thrill for this Catwoman.

What They Say:
As a part of the acclaimed DC Comics¬—The New 52 event of September 2011, meet Selina Kyle, also known as Catwoman. She’s addicted to the night. Addicted to shiny objects. Addicted to Batman. Most of all, Catwoman is addicted to danger. She can’t help herself, and the truth is–she doesn’t want to. She’s good at being bad, and very bad at being good.

But this time, Selina steals from the wrong man, and now he’s got her. He wants his stuff back, he wants answers and he wants blood. Writer Judd Winick begins a new chapter for CATWOMAN–hopefully she makes it out alive!

The Review:
Catwoman is one of those characters that definitely made an early impact on me when I was a child. Back before I got into comics with the Star Wars comics, I ended up with a handful of Batman comics in the mid to late 70’s. It was a typical Joker story that involved Catwoman that wasn’t all that memorable. Yet it was the character of Catwoman that appealed to me more than anything else in it, as she had that lengthy skirt, the mask, the whip and the purr that you could just hear coming off the page. I never got into the TV show from the 60’s at that age or beyond, but that cemented my love for the character through nearly (but not quite, thank you Halle Berry) all of her incarnations since then. But time to read Catwoman comics wasn’t really there until the relaunch and getting the books easily through digital means, so now I get to explore the latest take on her.

With Catwoman being a character that’s likely around since the early days of Batman in this re-aligned reality, there isn’t exactly a huge introduction to who she is, but the iconic aspects are certainly there as she talks about risks at the start, how it’s what motivates her and makes her feel alive. Even if you go in cold, you know a lot about her drive from the first few pages and that certain things seem to happen to her, like her place being blown up after some goons come in looking for something she probably stole. It’s standard plot point stuff, but it puts Selina on the move and meeting up with one of her few real friends, Lola, who she amusingly points out really was a showgirl. Long before she became a fence and something more. Lola’s not traditional comic book women fare, making her all the more appreciated, as she’s more real woman and a contrast of normality against the ultra sleekness that is Selina Kyle.

The opening chapter for Catwoman thrusts her into making a little money right off the bat, though she has secured a temporary place for the time being that is all about her high class lifestyle that she enjoys faking her way into. But money is always on her list and that has her taking a gamble by infiltrating some Russian mafia group at a party so she can try and find some way of making money, and it’s a pretty solid little experience, showing the way she analyzes a situation, deals with avoiding the whole groping nature of it and that she definitely screws up when she gets involved in a side plot for a few panels that has some significance to her past, which isn’t exactly detailed but we’re given more than enough to make the logical leap with. And that’s what works here, we’re not getting it all spelled out, but the pieces are there and putting it together over the course of the book makes for a fun read. It’s narration box heavy, but that’s because we’re getting things from her head as she goes through her life. And getting into Selina’s head is a whole lot of fun.

Over the course of the book, we get a straight shot at what kind of reckless and carefree life she leads, one that puts her into risky situations where there’s great reward, but also danger. It’s something that defines her at the ripe old age of twenty-three and makes it clear that she does feel immortal in a way, but part of that comes from the darkness of her life that she survived. She made it through, lived through it, and intends to make the most of it. There certainly have been consequences before, but now they’re going up in level as well as you have someone like Batman making more appearances in her life because she’s taking the game to that whole other level. The book introduces on rough casualty for her early on, one that’s rather surprising as I expected the character to last quite a bit longer, but it’s the kind of breaking point they needed in order to push Selina further off the edge, past teetering, to see which way she’d really go.

Over the six issues that are here, it does feel like a pinball machine in how it moves from location to location, action to action, but it fits that kind of “cat” lifestyle in that there’s no real routine. She takes the jobs, the jobs have risks, sometimes there’s personal elements in it, but there’s always something that she wants to get out of it. The one that starts to change things involves a heist that goes right but turns out to be dirty cop money as opposed to just dirty money in general. This starts tying us more to seeing the police, which has the obvious dirty cops, but also Detective Alvarez, a former star homicide cope who is now on major robbery crimes, a demotion to be sure. He’s an interesting an analytical character in the wrong business since he’s trying to actually work a variety of cases with something to bind it all together. Namely Catwoman, but it’s not what the boss wants to here. The cop dynamic is fairly straightforward at this point, but Alvarez comes across well here and could be the right kind of grey area cop that the book needs.

One thing I really, really liked though came with the first chapter and had nudges elsewhere in the volume as well, which was controversial when the series first came out. The last couple of panels in the first chapter with Batman start off forced as there’s an aggressive nature there, but shows he’s interested in getting into more than her head. And I definitely appreciated that they went there. It’s wholly appropriate to the character, the book and the style of it. And that’s something that the artist, Guillem March, really did a fantastic job with. Selina is supposed to be this slinky, cat-like creature that moves in the night and while there may be moments that make you do a light double take for how a body can curve, it works for her because that’s her skill. March really brings us a great looking book here with a whole lot of style, though it could have used more scenes with Selina sans mask as she’s definitely got a good looking going on. And he nailed Batman’s look as well, giving it the right bit of darkness and fear that it should generate.

In Summary:
I had picked up the first three issues digitally when they were coming out, but the time got away from it and with some snappy discounts and smart shopping, I got this volume for just a touch more than what the remaining three digital books would have cost me. Getting this book in one sitting definitely tightens the narrative overall, which wasn’t weak to begin with, and makes it an even more engaging book. Winick is doing an interesting style for Catwoman, keeping it rough and violent as a cat on the streets would deal with, but also giving it that kind of sexual flair and overtones that really helps to paint her as a woman that will use what she has and has the confidence to do it. There are a couple of stories worked into the volume overall, but at its core it’s showing who Selina is at this stage and where she’s starting from as well as where she can go. It’s a very down to earth book with some good characters to it, some I wish had stayed around longer. And even the Batman appearances felt natural and right while adding a much needed facet to things that was always there in some way. I completely dig this book and loved the writing and art and am hopeful that it has that storyline soon that just elevates it to something even more.

Grade: B+