Review: Catwoman Vol. 2: Far From Gotham trade paperback (DC Comics)

December 11, 2019

I like Joelle Jones' art a lot, and I enjoyed her first volume of Catwoman. The decked stacked against this series is high; though I enjoyed the heist-and-horror tone of the book, it seemed clear Jones' spinoff series was no better informed about Tom King's plans over in the main Batman book than the ill-fated Preludes to the Wedding was. I wouldn't scoff at a well-written Catwoman book, but this series seems very much intended to capitalize on the interest in Selina Kyle around the Bat-wedding and not necessarily because someone had a great idea for a Catwoman series proper. That can be shaky ground when purpose comes before premise.

The trouble begins to show in Catwoman Vol. 2: Far From Gotham. Jones takes the characters from the first volume and moves them along a typical Catwoman plot — Selina steals something, a villain goes after Selina's friends to get it back. We've seen this before and with more emotion and resonance; Jones' writing isn't poor by any sense, it's just that the story isn't adding anything new to the Catwoman genre. Along with that, the book is rife with filler, action sequences that just fill the page count. In all of this, we see a Catwoman book biding its time until it can hit its next mark in line with the Batman book, and if that's the case then this spinoff may have been better off as a true limited series or such.

[Review contains spoilers]

It's notable that Far From Gotham contains seven regular issues, #7-13, plus an annual, so nicely there's a lot to read here. But the first chapter has four pages of Selina stealing some jewels (no connection to the main story), four pages of the Penguin arriving in Villa Hermosa, and nine pages of Selina fighting her way into an audience with Penguin — that's nearly an entire issue just for the book to get to its inciting incident. The next issue pauses a couple pages for Selina to fight zombies, also with no bearing or consequence in the story. A good part of the next three issues involves Selina trying to rescue her young sidekick Carlos from an armored truck that he just happened to get stuck in while snooping around — the truck and its contents, too, aren't actually related to the overarching story.

And it's not as though Jones doesn't have a good story to tell. The wicked Mrs. Creel from Jones' previous volume is back, and here again Jones' story is wonderfully and surprisingly gruesome, letting the crime noir aesthetic of previous Catwoman runs stretch its legs again (and artist Fernando Blanco reminds of Cameron Stewart in Ed Brubaker's run that this book calls back to). Again, Selina's friends in danger is something we've seen before, but the sequences of torture and mayhem are no less harrowing. Mrs. Creel's final, bloody act is equally shocking — it is to Jones' credit and detriment that the evil Creels are perhaps more interesting in this volume than Catwoman and company are.

The annual by Jones is befuddling, and I'll be curious to see if Jones intends to pick up the storyline later or if this was it. Selina trains a group of women in thieving, and then later one woman frames Selina for the murder of the others because ... anger? Jealousy? It's not clear. And the women are killed by ye olde DC character the Immortal Man, and it's equally unclear why the Immortal Man becomes crazed and kills them, just as it's unclear what the Immortal Man is even doing there and how the woman Amanda Burress knows him (or if she doesn't, why the Immortal Man spares her).

Equally, there's a witness in shadows throughout the story that turns out to be ... Carlos, which is really not so surprising, except I can't tell of Jones means for us to understand that Carlos is culpable in the murders or if he had nothing to do with it. All of this, and Jones involves Lois Lane and Superman, which one might think would be a big deal after they all celebrated Selina and Bruce Wayne's engagement, but there's nary a mention. All of that adds up to not much of a story, and so despite the length of the book, I didn't end up feeling like I was getting that much out of it.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Catwoman Vol. 2: Far From Gotham

Catwoman Vol. 2: Far From Gotham finishes with a one-off heist story by Ram V. I have liked Ram V's work on Justice League Dark so I was interested when I saw his name on this. But again, while there's nothing objectionable here, the issue suffers from being indeed a one-off by a guest writer, with no real impact for the series overall, nor is the heist more sophisticated or complicated than plenty others we've seen before. Essentially, it's more of the same — the final story does nothing to right the overall trajectory of the book.

I looked ahead to the summary of Catwoman Vol. 3 and it's pretty generic; without peeking at the actual issues themselves, I've no indication the direction of this book is going to strengthen. It wouldn't surprise me much if this one ends about the time Selina goes back to Gotham for Tom King's Batman/Catwoman.

[Includes original and variant covers, Joelle Jones sketches and cover line art]

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Catwoman Vol. 2: Far From Gotham
Author Rating
2.5 (scale of 1 to 5)

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