Catwoman Volume 1: Trail of the Catwoman
Darwyn Cooke, Ed Brubaker, et. al., 2011
Original Issues published 2002-2003
Premise: Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, has been out of town for a while. After faking her own death, she's been laying low, but now it's time to get control of her life again. She needs a big job to get back on her feet, before she can even think about whether she wants to let being Catwoman become part of her life again. Collects Selina's Big Score, Detective Comics (backup feature) 759-762 and Catwoman 1-9.
I adored this collection. The art, mostly by Darwyn Cooke, fits perfectly with the noir tone of the stories, and the mix of mystery, crime, romance and adventure is perfect for Catwoman.
The stories are split roughly into three sections, as they were published originally. The first is one complete story: Selina's Big Score. You can see the first few pages here. The second focuses on a private detective named Slam Bradley who's investigating the “death” of Selina Kyle and it takes place concurrently with the first section. The third section brings in more characters and starts a series of adventures about Selina starting to operate in Gotham again as Catwoman.
You don't have to know Catwoman's history to enjoy these stories; this was a bit of an in-continuity new start for her. I wasn't personally a huge fan of Catwoman's revamped origin circa Batman:Year One, but these stories reframe those pieces and later developments in a way that ties all the different takes on the character together, leaving a coherent story of a strong, complicated woman with friends, enemies, and a personal moral code.
The supporting characters fill out the stories without overwhelming the star. The return of her friend Holly in the second part is a good touch, I like bringing in Dr. Thompson, and the other new and re-purposed characters fit well into the setting.
Also, Batman was really well handled, which made me happy. Every so often he appears on the outskirts of the stories; he cares about Selina but won't step in where he's not wanted. It's a really nice portrayal of their on-again, off-again relationship at a time when they're more off than on.
I really can't say enough about the art. It's fluid and full or motion, Selina is sexy and powerful without ever looking ridiculous. The writing is strong: funny, poignant and action-packed.
If you love Catwoman or have always wanted to, or if you just like crime/noir stories, you should consider checking this out.
5 Stars – An Awesome Book
Check out Catwoman Vol. 1: Trail of the Catwoman on Amazon.com