SYNOPSIS: Selina Kyle goes on her most daring and deadly heist yet –leaping headfirst into the heart of a melted-down nuclear reactor to steal highly valuable corium. But can she escape with only losing just one life…or are all her nine extra lives about to burn away?!
I had a hard time not thinking of the Imagine Dragons song, “Radioactive”, as I was reading this issue.
Selena ups the threat level to herself exponentially as she enters a nuclear fallout area in Markovia to retrieve a piece of black-glass corium. What I found curious is she states, “I’ll exchange my sample to a morally sound interested party and have the capes contain the rest.” I wonder if Howard intends to show us who that party is. As Selena also states, a person who has two minutes of exposure to it will be dead in a week, so it’s not exactly safe to handle.
So after a quick check-in with the folks back in Gotham, Catwoman begins her trek. I appreciated just how much insight Howard gives us into Selena this issue, starting with her loneliness. It’s so easy to think of her as a villainess, but Howard brings out a deep empathy in Selena for her friends and the animals around her…even if they’re mutated wolves due to the radiation.
Howard also succeeds in creating a sense of palpable danger. Yes, Selena has six lives left, but this mission could very well cost her them all if she can’t make it out of the area. Add in the aforementioned wolves and some armed opportunists with a death wish and this may be her deadliest heist ever.
Accompanying Howard once again is Stefano Raffaele on art. For me, this has been the best this volume has looked since Joelle Jones left the title. While Raffaele continues to highlight Selena’s eyes and reactions, this has to be his most harrowing visuals yet. This heist costs Selena and costs her big as we see her deteriorate as the story progresses. It’s not for the faint of heart as her skin begins to boil and she gets weaker and weaker. The art, combined with the inner dialogue, really brings you into the story and has you right by Catwoman’s side every fatal inch of the way.
The fantastical aspects of Selena’s transformation also get touched upon, but Howard walks that fine line between super-hero science and the mystical being the cause. Whatever it may be, I am still enjoying this new twist on her character, even though a part of me feels like I shouldn’t. There’s enough given in the story that you’re not sure if what Selena is seeing is real or delusion and it is so well done.
This all ends in a very touching climax, one that feels extremely fitting for a character that shows up unannounced at the end. I wish some past history had been brought up, but at the end of the day, the scene didn’t need it and it’s pretty much perfect the way it is. Selena may be cut off from Batman, but not the world at large and this was a superb ending to an issue that was dealing with Selena’s loneliness.
“Nine Lives” has been a thoroughly enjoyable arc so far and this issue did not disappoint me. Howard is killing it in this story as she kills Selena repeatedly and I hope Raffaele gets to continue beyond this one plot. Don’t miss it! – Javier E. Trujillo