Catwoman #35

"Catwoman" #35 sets Selina Kyle off in a bold new direction courtesy of a new creative team. Writer Genevieve Valentine and artist Garry Brown present a tale where Kyle does not put on her familiar bodysuit and goggles. Instead, she puts on a business suit and meets with the heads of the various mob families.

With her lieutenants, Antonia and Nick Calabrese, Selina takes on the leadership role of the Calabrese family and, through it, is guiding Gotham towards brighter days. Valentine writes an outwardly confident Selina Kyle, but opens her inner thoughts up to the readers, placing a letter from Queen Elizabeth alongside Catwoman's own thoughts. The writer keeps the cast tight and the action light, as she opens "Catwoman" #35 with a warehouse beatdown, but makes the rest of the issue more about the politics and particulars of running a family. Setting off in a new direction seems to be the thing for Bat-books right now, and turning this title into a mob drama adds depth to the Bat-bench.

Batman makes an obligatory appearance, but it is much different in duration and intent than his infamous visit in "Catwoman" #1. Garry Brown's artwork is equal parts Shawn Martinbrough and Michael Lark -- dark and sketchy, inferred realism that doesn't rely on specific details, but conveys weight and mass through shape and shadow. The sketchiness adds vitality to the art, as every image seems like it could have fallen out of a sketchbook as easily as it was deliberately committed to the page. Brown's cityscapes are especially poignant in their scratchiness, as his Gotham is very much a lived in city that has areas in need of repair. Despite the kinetic lines from Brown that convey more gesture than detail, the pages never feel empty or hurried. Brown is giving readers more while drawing less than most.

Lee Loughridge adds a significant amount of emotion and punctuation to the story through his color work, using sickly greens and icy blues throughout the tale. Occasionally he warms things up with lavendars and pale oranges, but never in "Catwoman" #35 are there any brave, brash superhero colors.

"Catwoman" #35 looks like a Vertigo book, which is appropriate with editor Mark Doyle on the helm, but an odd choice at this juncture in the series' run. With issues of "Batman Eternal" still to be published, it seems like a peculiar time to tie Selina Kyle's activities into that series so tightly. This issue is a dynamic departure from anything the series has delivered to this point, as "Catwoman" takes a backseat for now while Selina Kyle sets out to show Gotham how to do business. It makes for a fine jumping on point and adds another option to those seeking diversity from the Bat-family of titles.

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