SYNOPSIS: Catwoman had assembled the crew of a lifetime for her heist of the Batcave, and everything was going to plan…until it wasn’t. When tragedy and disaster strike, she’s got to find a way to land on her feet…but as her need for answers grows stronger and more desperate, she might be prepared to make a deal with the Devil himself…
Cliff Chiang is past the halfway point with his opus and you can bet he’s not letting up on Catwoman as Gotham goes from bad to worse!
Kicking things off with a flashback to ten years ago, we see what life was like for Selena in prison. Sepia tones are broken up with the violent intrusion of oranges as we see tragedy strike, teaching Selina a harsh lesson about getting attached to others. Will her future mirror this lesson?
Back in the present day, it’s two weeks to the election and Selena’s body is showing its age, needing Leslie Thompkins’ help to get by. Leslie advises that it may be time for Selina to move on, highlighting all the loss that Gotham has brought on those in her specific lifestyle. Chiang plants a seed of foreshadowing here.
It’s not all doom and gloom in this outing, though. An Ocean’s 11 style mini-heist to get some of Clayface’s clay for the Big Job is a lot of fun, showing off the ingenuity of Selina and her crew. It’s a much-needed moment of levity as Clayface gets sick from too much pudding. Arkham almost seems, well, not cheery, but certainly not the gothic, dangerous asylum fans may be used to. I can’t think of many times that we see it during the day, but Chiang offers up his own spin on it, making it seem like it might actually be of help to this Gotham.
Unfortunately, the last leg of their getaway doesn’t go as planned as things move underground. Things take a tragic turn and Selena is forced to make a tough call. Chiang pulls at the heartstrings here in a big way and I certainly wasn’t prepared for what he had in store. He really makes one care about the characters in this issue and by ratcheting up the danger level, you are reminded again that no one is safe. This is a series where The Batman is dead, after all. Chiang makes sure you don’t forget it.
There is so much to chew on in this issue. Selena begins to suspect they may have a rat tipping off the authorities, she gets more intimate with The Riddler in more ways than one, and tensions in the city heat up as Election Day draws near. A demonstration going awry feels ripped from the headlines and adds grounding to a story that somehow neatly (and tragically) folds in Etrigan the Demon. Chiang even throws in an homage to Batman: Year One, courtesy of Two-Face!
With all this going on, the narrative never feels bloated as Chiang keeps things moving through this very layered story. Even another flashback, this time to Fool’s Night, serves more than one purpose, as we get a window into Batman and Catwoman’s love and another reminder that in Gotham, tragedy is always right around the corner.
The only criticism I have, and it’s one that I shared recently with Batman: One Dark Knight, is that there is too long of a gap between installments. Yes, I am fully aware that Chiang is doing everything in this series (check it out-he’s billed as doing writing, drawing, colors, letters, and covers), but surely it would benefit from having the work complete and then soliciting it as a monthly, out-of-continuity limited series? Waiting till August for the conclusion will lose what momentum this book has built, especially given how many Batman-related comics will come out in the four months that we have to wait. This work deserves better. I’d hate to see Chiang’s hard work lost among the big events like Shadow War and the upcoming Dark Crisis. This could easily be The Dark Knight Returns of Catwoman stories and I’d hate for it to get lost in the mix.
So, spread the word! Catwoman: Lonely City is a dazzling comic book, with stylish visuals and an emotionally charged story, adding new layers to Selina Kyle. Don’t sit out on this classic-in-the-making! – Javier E. Trujillo