Review: CATWOMAN #4

Written by Joelle Jones
Art by Joelle Jones, Laura Allred, Fernando Blanco, John Kalisz, and Josh Reed
Edited by Jamie S. Rich and Brittany Holzherr
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: October 10, 2018

You were always the good one.

Selina shares a story with her seemingly catatonic sister, Maggie. As she reminisces, we get to see how their lives transpired, and how two people can see the same thing and follow different paths. Selina chose her life as a way to defend herself and others, while Maggie tried her best for ‘normal.’ A surprise entry, though, may challenge these sisters’ relationship.

Trauma is a helluva thing. Throughout this story, we see the sometimes similar, sometimes stark parallels between Selina and Maggie. To draw the lines between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ would be too simple, as Catwoman #4 addresses the complex and varying ways we experience our lives. You can see this interaction in the writing, and you can certainly see it in the art, making this issue one which deftly capitalizes on our nuanced emotional lives.

Joelle Jones’ deep dive into Selina and Maggie’s history is one that reflects a grand sense of humanity. These stories are frighteningly uncommon, and I always find it remarkable that two people could experience the same event and wind up in completely different futures, a testament to just how distinct we are as humans with multifaceted aspects of existence. Jones creates these two women as people with different responses to the evils around them; one wants justice through service, the other wants justice through fighting. Selina blames herself for her sister’s plight, but also realizes that sometimes force is the way to make things right.

This is an issue of introspection. Though Selina is telling her sister their history, it forces her to think about why she is where she is, and maybe she’s being too hard on herself. Yet, she’s also taking responsibility. Jones pulls on many emotional strings to convey this message, and they all remind us that how we end up is never truly that simple.

Drawing on the idea of parallels, Jones and Fernando Blanco use two styles of art that mesh but also bring out differences in the story. Jones creates images full of detail, while Blanco’s art is simpler. To me, this reflects the complicated nature of Selina’s present and the seemingly direct nature of her past with her sister. These differences in style address just how intricate we realize things are as we get older, while we have a more concrete understanding of things as children or early adults.

Similar to Jones and Blanco’s artistic dynamic, Laura Allred and John Kalisz present two different types of a similar shade of visual rendering. In Allred’s scenes, there is much more detail, so often color gets expressed as a function of reflection in material or wispy strands of hair. Kalisz’s colors on the other hand are able to be seen with a higher degree of clarity.

I feel as though this goes back to a limited understanding of our childhoods, or even just our pasts, and how things that feel clear turn out to create a much more mixed picture of what we experience in the present. The little things come to light, even though they may confuse us, once we put the image together, whereas we often don’t think about those things when we encounter preceding events or recall them at any time.

This issue represents a lot of what we study in psychology, especially as it relates to childhood, development, trauma, and families. There are so many reasons we wind up where we do, and so many factors that could change that. This team explores these ideas in Catwoman #4 in superb fashion.

In fiction, I do not think the idea of humanity always emerges, but through these kinds of emotional moments we get a glimpse into who the characters could be were they to live in our world (or us in theirs). Even if this issue had many deep and painful themes, it is more than worth reading, though I’d caution you to make sure you have the emotional space to do so.

The Verdict: 10/10


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