batwatch's Catwoman #15 - In the Zone review

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    Catwoman #15

    In the Zone

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    I am actually quite eager to read this issue of Catwoman. After the catastrophe which was the Death of the Family tie in, I have a major rubbernecking desire to see what further atrocities will come from Nocenti’s arc. Whatever happens, part of my brain will be playing Yakety Sax. I have no doubt that I will be amused with this issue, but will I be amused because this issue is high quality or because it is so low as to be comical?

    In this issue, Selina raids a penthouse party, shows some compassion on an orphan, conspires with a new character, and infiltrates the Black Room.

    The Black Diamond Probability

    The first thing I noticed when I picked up this issue is that it ties in to a crossover story arc I didn’t even know was taking place, The Black Diamond Probability. The Black Diamond Probability is a story arc focused on Eclipso that has been meandering its way through the DC universe for the last few months without any apparent end goal in sight. In the old DCU, Eclipso was God’s Spirit of Wrath who had been dismissed from Heaven after the forming of the New Testament for Eclipso’s method were deemed to harsh for the new age. Centuries before present, Eclipso had been locked in a black diamond, and about ten years ago, pre-Flashpoint, he had been unwittingly released by the solar scientist Bruce Gordon. Since then, Eclipso has menaced the entire DC Universe several times. His greatest strength is his ability to possess people who have any hostile feelings, but he is unable to possess someone exposed to solar radiation such as the sun.

    As far as I can tell, The Black Diamond Probability seems to have no overarching plot. It has already run through Demon Knights, All-Star Western, and Team 7, and from what I have found through research, it seems like a history of the Eclipso diamond in the DCNU. No doubt it will eventually come to a head, but for now, the nature of this crossover is mysterious. I do wonder if Eclipso might be used to bring together the Justice League of America since we know Catwoman will be a part of that team, and how she would become involved is unclear.

    A Visual Treat…Except for the Vomit

    As best as I can tell, this issue had the exact same artistic team as the last, but I enjoyed the art in this issue much more than the last. There were lots of really neat designs ranging from Catwoman’s motorcycle to the artifacts displayed in the Black Room. The party scene at the beginning, though having more than its fair share of vomit, displayed the tendency of stupid youth to burn through their brain cells and liver in an amusing fashion. The flesh map looked really interesting, and the entire visual presentation seemed just a little exaggerated giving the book a fun, less serious tone which well befits this reckless and adrenaline addicted version of Selina Kyle.

    On the flipside, Catwoman is drawn in some ridiculous poses and outfits as has become sadly typical of this series. Also, the action is sometimes hard to follow, but it is difficult to determine whether that is a function of the scripting or art department.

    Wacky Action

    I criticized Red Hood and the Outlaws a couple months ago for being a little too campy, and now Catwoman seems to be following that same model. The creative team of Catwoman is definitely not in danger of taking itself too seriously.

    However, I think this works for the series. Whereas Red Hood and the Outlaws is a dark book that is somewhat lightened (when not too campy) with comedy, Catwoman is a book that is light hearted nearly to the core. Yes, there are some elements of Selina being damaged and broken from a rough past, but all her adventures are strictly escapist in nature, and I do not mind some quirky fun.

    That being said, I do want the narrative, wacky thought it may be, to make sense, and some aspects of this issue do not track. Introducing a new character with no real explanation? That’s a little sloppy. Introducing slimy, morphing, liquid, living flesh maps that slither around panels without explanation? That is very sloppy. Throughout the whole issue, I was thinking…really? That doesn’t deserve some elaboration? Perhaps this is made clear in other tie ins to The Black Diamond Probability, but that does not excuse it popping up in this book without some discussion. Also, Selina treats all the wonders of the Black Room as if they are trivial, and she dismisses the doctor’s information on them as myths despite evidence of their reality. At least this can be explained by her being under the influence of Eclipso, but it still seemed a bit sloppy. I don’t like having to make excuses for comics.

    The doctor seemed out of place as well. Why is he accompanying Selina and giving her information about what she can steal? The doctor does conclude that he might be under the influence of Eclipso himself, but he does not seem totally enraptured like the others, so the whole scene seemed like little more than an excuse to have a character explaining all the craziness of the scene. Such a narrative trick did give the issue a cool retro vibe, but it also underscored the silliness of the situation.

    Conclusion 7/10

    My opinion of this issue might change drastically based on how the story is continued in the next issue, but for the moment, I found this a fun ride despite the sloppy work around the edges. If wacky crime adventures sound up your alley, you will probably enjoy Catwoman #15, but if you have reservations after this review, you would not go amiss to read a few pages in stores before purchasing.

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