Death of the Family Review: Catwoman #14 by Ann Nocenti and Rafa Sandoval

Death of the Family Review:  Catwoman #14

Published by DC Comics

Written by Ann Nocenti

Art by Rafa Sandoval

Coloured by Sonia Oback

The Plot

This issue opens where the previous issue left off with Catwoman and the hostage covered in ash.  However, now the Joker is standing over them.  He reveals that he was the client that wanted some pieces moved in the previous issue.  Despite her bluffs, Catwoman ultimately decides to agree to Joker’s request in order to allow the child to go free.  She is forced to endure some punishment and afterwards she tries to fight back, but is not completely successful.  After some verbal sparring, the Joker plays another prank on her.  Later on she meets up with Trip who provides her with a reward from his client (Joker).  Catwoman then reflects upon what is going on and is worried about the Batman.  However, she is ambushed yet again by the Joker who attacks her and plays another prank at the same time.  They then engage in some combat and he makes another proposition to her to get her to play in the game.  Shortly afterwards, Catwoman deduces what the entire game is about.  She ultimately refuses (in a rather smart way) and he provides her with another painful memory of her deceased friend.  They both walk away providing some interesting insights about each other in their minds.

The Breakdown

I have only read two issues of this series:  issue one and issue nine.  The first was because I was collecting each issue of the New 52 and the latter because it was a Night of the Owls crossover.  I initially stopped reading because I didn’t like the ending as it cheapened what I always thought was a potential storyline down the road.  I’m not one of those guys that write “Dear Diary” in a journal at the end of each day, but I don’t mind reading about romance if done effectively and believably.  I was surprised how the story just launched right into the Joker’s new game and that the whole issue was dedicated to it.  Going into it I figured that he would just make an appearance at some point, but it would be more teasers.  I enjoyed the interplay between Catwoman and the Joker as they are no strangers to one another.  I also liked how she didn’t back down with him and always thought to go on the offensive.  Her childhood is touched upon briefly and it does show why she steals for a living and has difficulty forming bonds with men.  The first time I read this comic I didn’t really like the scenes between them, but upon a second reading I gained an appreciation for the abstract nature of their confrontation.  Having an encounter with the Joker must be an extreme mind trip and this is what the comic depicted.  I like how Catwoman simply would not turn on Batman and try to protect him.  Also, on page 19 there was what I thought was an interesting revelation on Catwoman’s part with relation to her and Batman.  Joker allowing Catwoman to walk away at the end was consistent with how he approached the Penguin.  His actions towards those he considers heroes and those he typically classifies as villains is interesting.  The art contained some very nice scenes.  Any artist that works on this series has to be able to draw the female form or it would fail pretty badly.  Sandoval has a good grasp on the lead character, which makes the storytelling better.  Just as important is the colorist (because of the costume) and Oback does a great job of Catwoman’s costume.  There were some more elements to this book then I expected to find.

BUT…

I kind of got lost during some of the Joker torture scenes.  Overall I liked the art, but I didn’t care for the overly buffed out Batman in one panel and when Catwoman got dressed (in the outfit provided by Joker) I thought it she resembled a Barbie doll.  Like an actual Barbie doll and she lacked proper definition.  Okay, in saying that I’m not a horndog fanboy by any means and I prefer less skin in my books, but it was a weird panel.  Some pages with the Joker’s face didn’t always have that strapped on look to them.  Okay, Catwoman’s reveal at the end explaining the Joker’s game was…well, I hope that isn’t the case.  Even for him that would be a little too weird.

Buy It, Borrow It, Shelf Read It, or Ignore It?

Buy It…if you’re collecting the Death of the Family arc.  If you’re not then Shelf Read (or peruse) in order to see if this comic is for you.  It’s a Catwoman comic and there are a lot of panels with Selina/Catwoman in various poses while half-naked.  This is not for everyone and comes down to personal taste.  The first time I read this issue, it was a bit tedious.  However, the second reading was more enjoyable and was another solid crossover.  The one thing that this crossover has over the Night of the Owls arc (which has been over for some time) is that the tie-in issues for Death of the Family have more importance over the ones in the previous crossover (yes, I intentionally wanted to see how many times I could use the word over).  This comic didn’t have me salivating waiting for next month, but I might come back to check out what’s going on besides the Death of the Family involvement.  I actually don’t mind the character itself because it’s refreshing to read about an anti-hero sometimes and perhaps my dislike of the first issue has worn off now.

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