Catwoman: Volume 3: Under Pressure

Catwoman: Volume 3: Under Pressure
Ed Brubaker, Paul Gulacy, Sean Phillips, Diego Olmos, 2014

Premise: Sequel to No Easy Way Down. Selina returns from her road trip to find that the East End of Gotham needs her help more than ever. But she’s standing alone against a tide… Collects Catwoman #25-37.

And so Ed Brubaker's run on Catwoman comes to an end, not quite with a bang. The writing is still pretty decent, although the larger plotting feels disjointed and awkward. The art however, is just bad. Paul Gulacy more or less ruined this book for me.

It isn't so much that the characters are ugly, although they are. It's that they change drastically depending on the angle and are unrecognizable. If you didn't tell me that was supposed to be Holly and Karon, I would never have known. All of the women are frightening face on, with weirdly grotesque shading. It made it really difficult for me to enjoy the story, especially when the prior volumes had such good art.

And unfortunately the story was just fine, not good enough to transcend the art problems. Each mini section, of which there were several, had its moments, but they didn't add up to anything. Selina crosses some mafia who are moving into her turf and gets a minor supervillain set on her heels. The ‘people in masks chasing her’ plot from the last volume is resolved in possibly the silliest excuse for some extra cheesecake that I’ve seen in a while. Selina disappears, then returns to Gotham in time for two good issues before the comic had to move into a crossover with the other Bat books.

A few bright spots: the War Games crossover issues, though sort of an awkward side jaunt from the standpoint of the Catwoman narrative, had some actually moving scenes between Selina and Stephanie. And right before that are two semi stand alone issues. The first has a great artist (Sean Phillips), and is mostly about Bruce and Selina's relationship, and I really enjoyed that one. The second features pretty decent art by Diego Olmos and has a neat structure.

Selina's personal narrative is a bit messy in-world as well, she's not quite sure of her place or her role, or whether what she's doing is worth it. Brubaker tries to tie it up in a empowering bow for the last issue, but the attempt at a coherent theme was just too-little-too-late.

Overall I was much less impressed by this volume.

2 Stars - An Okay Book (Mostly Because of the Art)


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