I desperately want to be reading and loving a book starring Selina Kyle, and I was hopeful that the new creative team would give me that opportunity, but four issues into this creative pairing, “Catwoman” still doesn’t work. While there are things I like about the new direction, the negatives unfortunately far outweigh the positives.
Nocenti is clearly giving this book her all, and her enthusiasm for the character (and book) is evident, but it’s just not gelling. Selina spends most of this issue being possessed — or at least manipulated — by the diamond she’s stealing, but when she’s finally fully herself again her narration is clunky and still doesn’t feel like a Selina I can recognize. In fact, her sauciness while under the influence of the diamond actually felt a bit more accurate and I hoped that the right parts of that would be there when she escaped The Black Room. Alas, it was not to be.
The plot is pretty rough on the whole, feeling ill considered and not making a lot of sense. We spend most of the issue with a slew of soldiers not wanting to blow open the doors to The Black Room, and Darwin agreeing with that, only to have Catwoman eventually bust through the door with a haunted tank in a move that defies all logic (and perhaps all physics). Similarly, there’s a ton of narration (and dialogue) from Darwin in this issue setting up the monsters Selina is fighting in The Black Room. Who they are, what their powers are, how to not make things worse. But Selina ignores all that and then handily defeats them in ways that make no sense based on what we’ve been told. So the plotting ends up feeling sloppy and far too convenient. Additionally an embarrassing spelling error on the cover and a narration panel early on that has the word “scribbled” twice in the same sentence only adds to things feeling sloppy.
Sandoval’s art is full of conflicts. On the one hand his Selina gets better and better with each issue, and the entire book is gorgeously detailed and pretty cool looking. Sandoval isn’t afraid to get extreme and be creative and The Black Room is a good place for him to do that, but he goes too far in a lot of cases and things just get extremely confusing and nonsensical. In general the storytelling is really suffering as a result of the extremes and the chaos and the writing isn’t strong enough to clear it up. Though the details are beautiful they are also frequently overwhelming. While sometimes more is more, there are also times when less would be more but Sandoval doesn’t seem to know the difference.
Between the lack of clarity in the storytelling and the plot not making a lot of sense in the first place, this book just doesn’t deliver. It’s enthusiastic and full of energy and I want to give it credit for that, but ultimately it’s disappointing. Four issues into this new creative team run I’m afraid I’m going to have to move on from this book. Someday, Selina, we will meet again!