This series has come a long was since the early Ed Brubaker/Darwyn Cooke issues. What began as stylish noir comic has now become an outer space adventure. “Will Eisner’s Spirit” (the original series, not the Cooke one) followed the same trajectory, oddly enough, so Pfeifer and the Lopez brothers are in good company at least. And what Pfeifer has managed to do throughout his tenure on Catwoman has been impressive. He’s maintained the focus on character rather than spectacle, even when Selina Kyle has been running around punching costumed crooks or zooming to a far away prison planet.
“Catwoman” is one of those comics that I take for granted each month, and then when I read it I remember that it’s actually quite good. Unfortunately, this issue isn’t one of the best of Pfeiffer’s run.
The problem with this issue, and the issue preceding it, is that it’s all just a dream. The story doesn’t, ultimately, count. And that’s frustrating. I understand why writers (not just in comics) use dream sequences: to symbolically reveal the interior life of a character. It’s a pseudo-Freudian way to establish implicit desire without explicit words or actions. Pfeiffer spends two issues establishing Selina Kyle’s supernatural sense of confidence and her desire for a family, but is that anything new? Regular readers of the series can’t be surprised at all about what these dreams reveal. Perhaps the thrill is watching Catwoman dispatch more powerful heroes with her cunning, but since it’s all just a fantasy induced by some unexplained alien machinery, it doesn’t amount to much.
This issue, this story arc, seems like a missed opportunity. I assume Catwoman was chosen to be part of Salvation Run and Pfeiffer was directed to include her adventures on that alien planet as part of the ongoing “Catwoman” series. And perhaps Pfeifer thought the character didn’t belong in that kind of faux-“Secret Wars” context, so he contrived a two-issue dream sequence to get her out of it. That’s what it feels like. But Pfeifer’s Selina Kyle playing the villains against each other, using her wits to survive (and thrive) on a hostile alien planet? That sounds like an interesting story. And that’s not what we get. We get a lot of dream-sequence Catwoman running around beating up Batman while Martian Manhunter hovers behind her saying, “this isn’t real. It’s all in your mind.”
The art, as always, is excellent, but it’s just not enough to save the flawed concept of the issue. The story ends with Catwoman waking from her imposed dream state, though, so I have faith that Pfeifer will get the series back on track in no time.