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Friday, 29 January 2010

Catwoman- Crooked Little Town

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Main Story Pencils: Brad Rader
Main Story Inks: Cameron Stewart
Additional Art: Michael Avon Oeming, Rick Burchett,
Mike Manley, Eric Shanover and Michael Lark
Colourists: Matt Hollingsworth, Lee Loughridge and Tom McCraw
Letters: Sean Konot and Willie Schubert
Publisher: DC Comics

What’s It About?
Selina Kyle, Catwoman: sometime villain, sometime hero, she came from the gutter, stole a fortune and bought herself into high society. Now she’s back where she started: Gotham City’s rough east end, acting as its guardian angel with a little help from private eye Slam Bradley and former streetkid Holly Robinson. Its comic book noir complete with dirty cops, honest cops, gangsters, backstreet doctors, “respectable” figures playing the system and a few good-hearted people trying to make a difference. One of those good-hearted people just happens to be a costumed career criminal, that’s all…

There’s a drug war going on, the cops can’t be trusted and the East End Selina has sworn to protect is threatened. It isn’t long before Holly, wanted for a murder she didn’t commit is on the run and Selina is discovering just how high the conspiracy goes.

What’s Good About It?
Selina and her crew are not the morally upright citizens you might have come to expect from, say, the public perception of Superman or Spider-Man. At one point Holly steals a car, completely without remorse or punishment of any kind but she does do it for noble reasons. Similarly, Selina’s criminal past is not forgotten, in fact its vital to the plot.

One of the best plots in this collection is Holly’s recovery from heroine addiction, a condition she’s hiding from Selina because she knows what a temptation she’s placing herself in just living in the East End, let alone investigating drug dealers. In several scenes we see the world as she sees it through her “junkie vision”, an acknowledgement that her past will colour the way she views the world forevermore. Rather than simply having her swear off the drugs and magically recover never to speak of it again, Brubaker actually deals with some of the issues confronting someone in recovery. Brubaker also writes the positive aspects of her recovery: the deep friendship she shares with Selina and the first, tentative and rather sweet moves Holly is making in her relationship with a woman called Karon.

The collection ends with a mixed bag of shorter Catwoman comics with more of a character focus, filling the reader in on who the character is and how she came to be. This actually works quite well as an epilogue as the reader has time to get to know and understand Selina through her actions in the main story rather than a massive dump of information at the beginning.

What’s Bad About It?
There’s a short fourth-wall-breaking two-pager needlessly dedicated to bringing up (and worse, not resolving) a continuity issue and riddled with in-jokes. Nothing to do with the main story, it’ll most likely fall flat for the new reader. Other than that there’s not much to pick apart. A few seeds dropped for future books in the series, nothing intrusive and par for the course for an ongoing series.

What’s the Art Like?
The cover may fool you into thinking that female anatomy in this book is Barbie doll unrealistic but that’s hardly the case. The cover is not completely representative of the interior art.

There are a lot of art credits in this book but that’s mainly from shorter bonus comics in the back of the book. The lion’s share of the book is pencilled by Brad Rader and inked by Cameron Stewart. Their art is simple but effective and the other artists follow their formula pretty closely, for instance:

The art is simple, using the bare minimum of lines and creating large, block spaces of colouring. For example, look at how just a few lines sells how plug ugly Slam Bradley is or the play of expressions in the scene between Holly and Karon in the first example. The flat colours work well with the simple, economical lines because when the colourists do something fancy (such as the all-red massacre scene) it really stands out.

Other Information
Catwoman: Crooked Little Town collects issues 5 to 10 of the Catwoman ongoing series as well as various shorter Catwoman comics from the same period. The RRP of the book is £12.99 but second hand it can be picked up for a little over five pounds.

The ISBN is 1-4012-0008-7 and can be found on Amazon here.


  1. Thanks for posting this article which replies to a long time interrogation I had : is it still possible to use block spaces of coulouring in comic art nowadays ? It seems it is allowed ! It's very nice indeed ! I prefer this kind of simplycity to some exagerated FX we often can see everywhere....

  2. I believe you've got the art credit backwards. Cameron Stewart would have done the pencils on those issues. (He took over for Darwyn Cooke.)