Catwoman Volume 2: No Easy Way Down

Monday, November 18, 2013

Catwoman Volume 2: No Easy Way Down
Ed Brubaker, Cameron Stewart
compilation 2013, original issues 2002-2003

Premise: Follows on from Volume 1. Selina’s made an impression on the Gotham underworld… that’s not always a good thing. She learns the hard way that doing nice things for Gotham City will only get you beaten back down. Collects Catwoman #10-24 and Catwoman: Secret Files and Origins #1.

“One thing I’ll never get used to about the past is that it’s never really over...Just when you think that your history is done--locked away, forgotten...It rears its ugly head to remind you that no matter how fast you are, you can never escape yourself.”

This thick volume starts off with a couple warm-up one-story issues illuminating aspects of Selina’s personality and technique, then dives into a multi-layered epic tying back to the events of Volume one and other parts of Selina’s history. But don’t worry if you’re new, you’ll pick up all the context you need along the way.

The art is every bit as kinetic and delicately paced as the first volume. But here the noir tone takes a harsher, darker turn. Selina’s enemies have a head-start, and their revenge is brutal. This story pushed buttons I didn’t know I had, and one particularly horrific part still gives me the occasional nightmare. Despite that experience, though, the writing is so brilliant that I read it again. Besides, I think screwing me up emotionally for days, despite not being fun, is at least the mark of effective writing.

After the five-part story “Relentless” that forms the heart of the plot, what follows is the three-part “No Easy Way Down”. This is aftermath, switching to a sparer art style that focuses on moments and surreal emotion, with each character trying and failing to deal with recent events. I love that this series gave these emotional developments room to breathe, without rushing on to the next thing. Following that is another five-part story arc: “Wild Ride”, in which Holly and Selina take a road trip, trying to move past their troubles. It’s full of guest stars, action and humor, but never becomes quite light and fluffy.

This is one of those stories that’s like a punch to the gut in a satisfying way.

The back of the book has a few short pieces that take place before/during/after the main storyline and give a bit of background, if you want it.

A really solid story, and a huge book, definitely worth the price.

5 Stars - An Awesome Book

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