Review: Catwoman: The Long Road Home trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Catwoman: The Long Road Home ends on a note that is irreverent, difficult, disturbing ... essentially, many of the things the Catwoman series has been all along. Throughout his run, writer Will Pfeifer's portrayed Catwoman Selina Kyle as just this side of self-destructive, and he finishes the story with the same wonderful ambiguity he's provided all along.

At the end of Long Road Home, we find a Catwoman returned to her thieving roots -- not, even she admits, because she wants or needs to steal, but because it's her nature -- and, we sense, because she's a little mad at the world. And yet, the world may not even be her target; when Selina admits that she gave up her baby Helena not because she had to, but because Helena interfered with Selina's Catwoman identity, we understand in the end Selina's truly angry at herself.

Pfeifer and artist David Lopez do an admirable job ending their Catwoman run. Pfeifer, who's had his stories interrupted by no less than One Year Later, Countdown, Amazons Attack, and Salvation Run ends the Catwoman/Salvation Run crossover with breakneck speed (with no ending, really), and someone who hadn't read Salvation Run would be largely confused.

Instead, Pfeifer turns quickly back to the story of Catwoman's hunt for the Thief, an essentially anonymous character with a grudge against Catwoman. It's readily apparent that Pfeifer intends the Thief as a symbol more than a character; Selina's beating of the Thief suggests a break with her old life just as she, in contradiction, perhaps becomes an even more devious thief herself than before.

There's much to be considered here, and much we won't really understand the implications of for years to come. I always thought giving Catwoman a child was a bad idea, since we all knew the writers would never let her keep it; now we find a Catwoman -- maybe good, maybe bad -- who takes as much of her own motivation her guilt over giving that child up. Will Catwoman remain a petty thief, forgetting her East End hero days? Will Helena ever be seen, heard from, or mentioned again? Has this past storyline been the next step in the natural evolution of the Catwoman character, or a sign of this character returning to the Batman-villain status quo? It'll be a while before we know the answer.

I congratulate Will Pfeifer and David Lopez on a steady, respectable run on the Catwoman title. Ultimately, I feel perhaps the concept ended up being greater than what any writer could plot for the character, but Pfeifer and Lopez's consistent quality on this title is something to be admired.

[Contains full covers]

Next up, we're heading back toward the Countdown to Final Crisis with a stop first to finish the Jack Kirby Fourth World omnibuses. See you next time!
Collected Editions 2014 Comic Book Gift Guide
Get the Collected Editions scoop before anyone else -- on Facebook!

9 comments:

  1. I loved the whole of Catwoman vol.2, although Pfeifer's run wasn't quite as strong as Brubaker's. DC really has frustrated me immensely with their treatment of this series especially, they didn't even finish collecting Brubaker's run in trades, then had the nerve to skip the first 8 or so issue arc that Pfeifer wrote which set up everything that occurred from "Catwoman: The Replacements" onward! And DC still has no intention on finishing collecting George Perez's incredible run on Wonder Woman either! DC needs to stop neglecting their great assortment of iconic female characters, and neglecting their collected editions overall. Oh, and also on that note: DC skipped issues of Gotham Central in trade collections and are now trying to double dip with more complete hardcovers. Note to DC: people read trades now, stop this stupid sporadic take on collected editions/trades and be competitive with Marvel by trying to collect everything in trades and/or hardcovers, especially for more recent popular series's!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yeah, a lot of Pfeifer's run on Catwoman wasn't clear because we were missing the issues with Hugo Strange. It's a shame that chances are we won't see them now.

    I'm at the same time disappointed that those Gotham Central issues weren't collected the first time, and also eager to get the hardcovers! I feel bad buying the hardcovers when I already have the trade paperbacks, though.

    ReplyDelete
  3. DC really should continue collecting Perez's Wonder woman AND Byrne's Superman

    ReplyDelete
  4. At some point if DC keeps collecting Byrne's Superman, they're going to run up against the issues where Superman kills Zod, and given how recently that's been retconned out, I wonder if they're intending to stop before that ...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Just because something has been retconned out should not keep it from being collected. Just check out the Emma Peel-esque "I-Ching/Mod" era of Wonder Woman collected in the 4 volume "Diana prince: Wonder Woman" series DC recently put out. Even though Crisis On Infinite Earths wiped this era out of continuity it still makes for good reading if you enjoy silver age comics or espionage/spy type stories. There are plenty of uncollected story arcs/eras for numerous series that have been retconned that are really enjoyable, unique, and worhty of trade collections. DC overall is just really behind Marvel Comics in attempting to collect series both new and old. DC's trade/collected edition department desperately needs new management more willing to more completely collect new series and more regularly and completely collecting popular arcs and eras of older series. I really love a lot of older and newer DC series and characters, but am just shocked by how little DC is willing to put in trades.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh, forgot another example, the Wolfman/Perez era of New Teen Titans from the early to mid 80's was also affected by the Crisis On Infinite Earths (the history of the team and origins of Wonder Girl and Nightwing were affected), but those stories still hold up and have a following today. Retconning comes and goes but good comics are still good regardless of what is or isn't considered "canon."

    ReplyDelete
  7. To be clear, I agree completely that a story being retconned shouldn't be an impediment to its being collected. Just a bit of speculating on my part as to the delay.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I just finished reading Perez's Challenge of the Gods, the second TP from DC. Reading about how immensely cool things will happen in #33 (Antiope, Hippolyte's sister and polar opposite comes into focus in what looks like a true Greek tragedy) I was stoked to buy the trade paperback . . . only to find there was none. Come on DC! I need to read that story! Oh, and yeah. Before there was Lindelof and Cuse and pocket of electromagnetic energy below a mysterious island therew as George Perez and Pandora's Box and Paradise Island!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Before there was Lindelof and Cuse and electromagnetic energy kept at bay beneath mysterious islands there was Perez and the dark forces of Pandora's Box kept in check beneath Paradise Island. Come on, DC! Perez's Wonder Woman is extraordinary. So how come only half of his work on WW is available in trade paperback?

    ReplyDelete