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Comic Book Review: "Catwoman: The Game"
Selina Kyle has always been a femme fatale ever since she was first introduced in Batman #1 (Vol.1) in 1940; then known simply as “The Cat”, instead of “Catwoman”. She was originally based on Hedy Lamar (A smart and sexy actress said to have invented radio homing technology). Over the decades, Catwoman has changed origins, costumes, allegiances, and personalities. In the last two decades she’s become a normal superheroine (although with dubious motive); not simply a criminal but a cat burglar with a heart of gold, who at times, has saved the day when the real heroes have failed. This has put her at odds, and in favor, with Batman (her on-again, off-again lover). In DC Comics New 52 Re-launch, Selina Kyle/Catwoman’s origins have been re-written yet again. This 6-issue story arc, “The Game” is a Neo Noir story mixed with violence and sexuality, which garners this title the rating TEEN+. This series, written by Judd Winick with art by Guillem March, is very dark, gritty, and has a very mature audience appeal; it is NOT recommended for younger readers.
In issue #1, “…And Most Of The Costumes Stay On…” we are introduced to Selina Kyle (Catwoman) as she is scrambling around her apartment trying to get dressed in her catsuit, grab her smart phone and cats before her apartment door is broken down by a group of masked thugs. This isn’t the first time or the only one of her places (that’s she “stolen”) that this has happened to; it’s the third. She believes whoever it will just trash the place and then leave after they’ve found whatever she stolen from them. Then, her apartment explodes. It surprises her, but she not broken up about it. She goes to see her fence and friend, Lola McIntyre, for assistance in finding a new place and another job. Lola tells her about a vacant penthouse she can use for a couple of weeks. She also tells her about some Russians mobsters and a horse painting that has a personal significance. Selina disguise herself as a bartender at a gentlemen’s club so she can eavesdrop on the mobster’s plans. She hears that the painting is worth going to war over (which ever family owns it, is considered the most powerful). She thinks it’s worth stealing so she can sell it back to the mob for a profit. She notices a man she recognizes, Renald, (he killed one of Selina’s friends and she isn’t happy to see him out of prison). She follows him into the men’s room and beats him up, poking out his right eye. The rest of the Russians realizes that she posing as someone else when they find the drug bartender she impersonating. Selina quickly throws on her Catwoman suit and fights her way out of the place. At her new pad, she’s thinking to herself about how alone she is at time when Batman shows up. He wants to know what she’s gotten herself in to, since someone tried to kill her. She doesn’t know his secret identity (as Bruce Wayne) but isn’t sure if he knows hers. She kisses him, since this isn’t the first time they have been intimate. He’s starts to protest but gives in her advances; keeping most of the costumes on during their passionate tryst.
In Issue #2, “I Could Say I’ll Sleep Better, But That’s A Lie”, Batman and her are snuggling after their intimate encounter. He’s worried about her safety and the safety of anyone who could be caught in the crossfire. As she leaves, she believes that he hates himself because he doesn’t turn her in for her crimes. But she likes him, and she can deals with him later. She steals the horse painting (it worthless, but as a trophy for the most powerful family it is priceless). She secretly makes a deal with each of the two families to pay her off. They are to meet her at a gala held by Bruce Wayne and leave the payments in hiding places. She’ll then text them the painting’s location. She insists that Renald show up as well. Bruce Wayne (Batman) notices her wearing a red dress and blonde wig (he’s got a hunch that she is Catwoman). He’s intercepted her text messages about the money and the painting. He’s acting drunk, trying to get her to leave with him, knowing that thing can only get worse. She refuses, thinking he’s just being persistent. The Russians follow her instructions about the paintings location: she left it hanging in the ballroom. Both families show up at the same time and start a shootout over the painting (since they both have paid off Catwoman for it). Bruce stumbles upon the fight, and Catwoman knock him out of the way of the gun fire. Renald get killed in the gunfight (which she hoped for) and Selina escapes with both sacks of money. When she gets back to Lola’s apartment and finds her tied to a chair and dead. Selina is attack by the masked thugs from issue #1. As she’s bleeding on the ground, Louise Ferryman AKA Bone, says that he wants her awake, since she’s the one who been stealing from him.
In Issue #3, “No One Can Find Any Piece Of Me Here”, Selina is remembering the early days with Lola; how she warned her to be careful or she would end up dead. Bone tells Selina, who is now tied to a chair, that he was raised in a group home where he got all his stuff stolen. Now he’s someone important— no one steals from him. As he leaves, he tells his crew to beat her to death. They knock her down; she breaks free from the chair, steals one of their guns, and shoots two of them in the kneecaps, demanding Bone’s location. He is at the 40 floor Moffat building, with a club on top. She crashes the party and drags Bone out to the roof. He’s trying to talk her out of hurting him. He tells her he’s sorry; he overreacted about a bunch of his junk. As she angrily beats him with a baseball bat, she’s yelling that he’s right; he killed Lola over just worthless junk. She’s about to kill him when Batman shows up and stops her. She uses her whip to knock Bone off of the building knowing Batman will save him as she escapes. At Lola’s apartment Selina is burning all evidence of Lola’s fencing past, so that she won’t be deemed a criminal. She hears footsteps outside, thinking they’re Batman’s. It’s actually the police with guns drawn on her.
In Issue #4, “You … Still In The Game”, Catwoman is cornered by the police, in Lola’s apartment with a dead body, burning evidence; It doesn’t look good. She has to escape from the cops. She sees a bottle of rum and kicks it into the fire, grabs Lola’s body and jumps out the windows as the place starts burning to the ground. She had to keep the cops from thinking she was involve in Lola’s death by secretly letting everyone think Lola really was a fence and her death was a mob hit. At Lola’s funeral Selina feels that Lola had tried to teach her to be safe, but she was a bad student. Gwendolyn (Gwen) Altamont, her old partner, is there to pay her respects to Lola. The two have drinks and reminiscence. Gwen tells Selina that she’s a fence now and if she needs anything, to look her up. Selina says yes, but intends to work alone from now on, because of Lola’s death. At the Gotham City Police Department, Detective Alvaraez is asking Lieutenant Wilson of the Major Crimes, Robbery Division for help in connecting 17 crimes together. Wilson reminds him that his overzealousness in the Homicide Division got him reassigned. But he has thinks these 17 cases are by the same prep (Catwoman). Wilson says, “No”. Selina, without Lola to help her find “legit” jobs, gets a shaky lead and is now ripping off a group of drug dealers. As she is leaving with the money, a woman named Reach attacks her. She is metahuman who uses anti-gravity powers to throw Selina into building and through windows. Selina tries to fight back and escape, but Reach throws her straight up into the air (half a mile). As Selina is free falling back to earth she thinks to herself that cats always land on their feet, but can still die when they land.
At the beginning of Issue #5, “This Has Got To Be Dirty,” Selina is falling. She’s remembering the early days when she worked with a few other girls on a job that went bad and they had to fight their way out. Now, she uses her whip to save herself by swinging onto a building site, into an unfinished building, but dislocates her shoulder in the process. As Reach searches for Selina in the darkness she tells her that since she is impressed with her, she’ll let her go this time. Selina pops her shoulder back in place and knocks her out, telling her that she doesn’t play nice with people who try to kill her. She grabs the drug dealer money leaves. Detective Alvaraez has figured it out that Catwoman is the prep. His boss doesn’t care. He’s too busy with three others detectives (Ester, Mulroney, and Davis) in his office. It seems that they are all dirty cops who stole money from the Evidence Locker, and hired Reach to launder it. Now Catwoman has pitched it ($425,000).If she spends even one bill, it will be flagged and the cops could be caught for stealing from Evidence. Selina realizes something’s wrong by the amount of money she’s taken; it’s too much for a normal drug deal. She tells herself that the people behind this money are going to looking for it; she should lay low and do nothing. But, she splurges on herself; caviar, champagne, massages at the massage parole. One of the bills is caught and the police are called in. The massage staff quickly leaves her alone; she figures it out and escapes before the police brake down the door. She steals a motorcycle and runs into a police squad. A car chase ensues through Gotham’s snow-covered park and she is eventually caught.
In Issue #6, “Welcome To The Hard Way”, she is captured by the police. The officers say she has no record and her fingerprints don’t match any in the database. No arrests, no juvenile record, no ID; nothing. Selina doesn’t understand why they don’t have any info on her, since she’s been arrested before; They should have a record on her. The three dirty cops tell her to give up the rest of the money (since they only caught her with half of it) and they’ll let her go. Selina knows they’ll kill her once they got it to save themselves. She tells them to let her go first and then she’ll give them the money. They send in Reach for Round Two. Detective Alvaraez is told that Catwoman has escaped. He doesn’t believe it and realizes the connection with the dirty cops and the money. Since Selina is handcuffed, Reach easily beats her senseless. Selina does get the upper hand when she bites off Reach’s ear. Despite the injury, Reach is still fighting until Alvaraez knocks her out and let’s Catwoman go. Selina gets the other half of money and plans to leave town. As she runs from rooftop to rooftop she is confronted by Batman. He tells her to drop the money; she refuses. Selina says she has earned it; he says she stole it. “Now you have a problem?” She knows that he has a soft spot for her, that he managed somehow to erase her fingerprint from official records. He’s been looking out for her, and she knows it. Whether he likes it or not, whether he admits it or not, he’s an accomplice. He insists that she let the money go. She’s feed up with his meddling in her life, no matter how it has been to her advantage. She lashes out at him; attacking him. After a short fight Batman grabs the money and shouts if she wants to die. She shouts back that maybe she does. A stunned silence falls between them and he drops the money at her feet, walking away without a word. Selina knows he won’t follow her now. Not for a while anyway. She’ll have to find her own way now, completely on her own. She’ll need help and she knows who to go to; her old partner in crime, Gwen. She finds Selina sitting on her window sill. She tells Gwen that she is Catwoman and that she need her help.
This first Catwoman story of the New 52 is very gritty and reminiscent of the film noir of the 1940’s and 50’s. The book’s rating is TEEN + and on the surface one might think it’s for the provocative, sexy female main character. In reality, it’s seems to be for the violence and dark subject matter. The violence is cruder and the pain is more emotional; the villains seem to almost crave inflicting pain; it can be a bit disturbing at times. This “new” Catwoman is younger, very reckless, and carefree; she doesn’t think before she acts. She is very selfish, impulsive and indifferent to violence; her seemingly only moral code is self-satisfaction. She’s back to petty crime; she’s brash and rushes in without a second thought; which just gets her into more trouble. In the last thirty years, Selina Kyle has changed visually, mentally and morally. In the 60’s and 70’s she was just a normal villain like The Joker and The Penguin. In the 80’s she became a more sympathetic character, her with her harsh upbringing making her turn to crime. In the 90’s she became a superheroine in her own right on the same level as Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and the Huntress. This 21st century Catwoman (now an anti-heroine) plays to her strengths: she uses her beauty and sensuality to her advantage. The creative team of Winick and March has made her brash and wild to facilitate her learning curve. The ending of “The Game” storyline leaves one questioning her plans from here on out: Will she try to be more careful and safe, perhaps giving up this dangerous life, or will she continue down this dark road, throw caution to the wind and pray for the best? Only time will tell.
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