Stumbling Just a Bit On the Prowl, But Lands On Its Feet
Irony is happening here. The staff review has been more favorable FINALLY after giving this series scores lower than it deserves; and yet it is this issue I am LESS fond of than the rest. Adriana Melo's art was a perfectly acceptable fill-in last issue, but not so much this time. The colors seem to muddle together a bit more, and there's a more frequent occurrence of odd body shapes and positions. There's this one panel early on with three armed goons standing in a doorway that look RIDICULOUSLY flat. BUT THEN, during this subplot with someone abducting hookers.... I can't, for the life of me, deduce the gender of about HALF of them, maybe more. Some of them are bizarrely skinny compared to others, and many have muscled stomachs, and appear to alternate between small boobs and NO boobs. Are some of them transvestites? I think last issue both were transvestites. Probably. I thought maybe that was the hidden connection? But now I'm not sure.
Oh and giving Spark and our mysterious prostitute kidnapper nearly identical hoodie costumes was a REALLY stupid idea. Over half the time it looks like Spark is fighting himself, while the story creates ZERO indication that this is intentional. It's just double use of the same laziest 'mysterious identity' costume design.
And why does Catwoman decide to go after Penguin to obtain the fifth dagger BEFORE SHE'S STOLEN THE OTHER FOUR? The story seems to imply their first heist was successful, yet they never even broke the glass case that held the first four daggers. And don't even try to say they did it off panel because they clearly didn't have them as they made their escape. Shouldn't they be planning both the Penguin heist and the re-heist for the first four at the same time? Instead of talking as if you already own the first four?
But of course the interactions between Catwoman and Spark are taking a turn for the much more interesting as Spark slinks back into uncertain motive territory. Catwoman clearly has a for more immediate sense of righteousness than he does, but he clearly has a solid moral compass as well. Plus his possibly shady attempts to mine her for information with subtle dialogue cues, which could just as easily be Catwoman overthinking things, and not helped by Gwen's nagging suspicions.... it all keeps things at a level where the reader is quick to trust Spark during the immediate situations, but linger a distant suspicion in the moments where the dust settles. Plus it provides a VERY subtle sense that the series is building up plotlines to help Catwoman sort out her own moral code.
Finally, the issue has to derail the current storyline a bit to accommodate The Night of the Owls; and yet it doesn't feel unnatural at all. Winick did an excellent job at working them into his story for the overall benefit. It's obvious that next issue's Penguin Heist is going to end up forcing her and Spark to protect The Penguin from a Talon, and that's a PERFECT story to take place in the current tone, where Catwoman's still figuring out her own morality.
In Conclusion: 3/5
This issue had a lot of great things in the subtext, but the art really didn't do much for me. Plus the lack of them actually stealing the first four daggers created a pretty big hole in the atmosphere of the story. This issue BUILDS a lot of nice things for future payoff, but doesn't exactly do a whole lot for itself in the moment. It really isn't a bad issue, just one of the weaker ones. And it's the ONLY ONE thus far that's deserved a score like this.