SYNOPSIS: Punchline and her Royal Flush gang are causing mayhem in Alleytown and things are blowing up-literally!-so Catwoman calls in backup! We all know the cat has nine lives, and the same can be said about her gang! But what’s a nine-person heist without a little danger, maybe some…death? And, uh-oh, those handcuffs definitely don’t look like the sexy kind, but what’s worse is Selina has bigger things to worry about right now: like her ex-lover and current lover in the same room! At least she’s criminally good at being bad!
I’m not sure what happened here.
This is an oversized fiftieth issue, but I feel like I’m missing some part of the story between this chapter and the last. We make some pretty big leaps here and as such, it feels disjointed from the trajectory this series was going on.
I went along with the whole Catwoman/Punchline grudge last time, but as it builds to a climax it feels like it came out of nowhere. When did Punchline become an important nemesis for Selena? On top of that, apparently, you need to read Punchline #2 to find out what happened to some of the supporting cast before this issue. Pass.
Certain characters make fatal choices that feel out of nowhere. Batman speaks of a hidden motivation for Valmont, one that gets no payoff. One character dies and it amounts to nothing. Another’s death makes no sense either, other than the plot requires it.
Batman felt inconsistent, too, particularly in his stance on murderers. I can’t lay this on Howard’s shoulders, though. Batman over the last fifteen years or so has been pretty tolerant when it comes to Jason, Damian, and Ghost Maker, which makes his words and actions feel hypocritical here.
Selena’s fate feels out of nowhere and the story rapidly skips from a climactic moment to its consequences. There would have been some drama in the missing scene and instead, the story chooses to focus on Dario, now going by Tomcat, linking up with Eiko. Apparently, this is going to be the status quo for the next arc.
Nico Leon handles the art on the main story and does a serviceable job here. Batman makes an imposing entrance, but some of the action makes no sense as we get to the major battles, with clarity sacrificed to create a false sense of drama.
Inaki Miranda and Juan Ferreyra take over on art for “The Aftermath” and are mismatched stylistically. At least Miranda deals with Eiko and Dario, with Ferreyra tackling Bruce and Selena, so visually it makes sense, but Ferreyra is practically wasted on the script he is given, save for a two-page action spread.
I’ve been enjoying what Howard was doing on this title, but this issue just left me scratching my head. The Selena and Bruce stuff felt overwritten and this issue left me with a lot of questions and not in a good way. The art was the highlight here, but even that was off in places. Also, I feel apathetic about the new direction, which is a terrible way to leave a reader. As such, I would have a hard time recommending this installment. – Javier E. Trujillo