CATWOMAN: TRAIL OF THE CATWOMAN
Writers: Darwyn Cooke & Ed Brubaker
Artists: Darwyn Cooke, Cameron Stewart, Mike Allred, Brad Rader & Rick Burchett
Letterers: Sean Konot & Willie Schubert
Colorists: Matt Hollingsworth, Lee Loughridge & Giulia Brusco
This was the series that made Catwoman one of my favorite characters. Gone were the days of the overly sexualized version of Selina, seen in the previous series drawn by Jim Balent. This was a new Selina Kyle, one that gave the character a new depth and purpose that we'd never seen before. Darwyn Cooke and Ed Brubaker ushered in a new age for Catwoman full of noir and intrigue. To this day there hasnt been a Catwoman series that has resonated with fans or been as critically acclaimed as this one.
Selina Kyle had prowled the skyline of Gotham City for years, as its most famous criminal, Catwoman. But with news spreading of her demise, Selina decides to leave the costumed world behind. With everyone thinking her dead and left without any cash, Selina has to find a quick score to set herself up in Gotham again. It's in the lead story of this volume, which Cooke bothe writes and illustrates where this score takes place. Cooke does such a great job of delivering a Catwoman tale the likes of which we had never seen.
The story "Selina's Big Score" is broken up into 4 parts and introduces us to some new men in her life. One of the characters we meet is Stark, a thief from Selina's past, the man who taught her how to be a thief. This past also alludes to the origin set in BATMAN: YEAR ONE, when Selina lived on the streets. We also meet Slam Bradley, who made his original debut in a little book called DETECTIVE COMICS #27. The reintroduction of this classic and long forgotten Golden Age character was a stroke of genius. This tale doesn't have Selina don the costume once and you barely notice it. This story reads like a hardboiled noir/heist book. While many prefer Darwyn Cooke's NEW FRONTIER, this is my favorite book of his. It sets up the new status quo for Selina moving forward and Brubaker takes it up a notch when he relaunched the ongoing book.
But before we jump into the ongoing, Brubaker bridges the gap between these 2 tales. This story that originated in Detective Comics followed Slam Bradley as he looked into the "death" of Selina/Catwoman. We get a better look at this tough as nails PI and see that nothing will stop him from solving this mystery. It also shows us how integral he will become in Selina's life moving forward.
With Selina back in Gotham, she's unable to enjoy her newfound anonymity for too long though and decides to return to her infamous persona. With an awesome and practical new costume, Catwoman returns to the streets, but this time with a new mission. Brubaker gives her a new purpose of saving the East End and becoming it's new guardian angel. During these 2 arcs we see Selina take down a serial killer that has been preying upon the streetwalkers she calls friends and also busting a drug deal that involved corrupt cops. We are reintroduced to Holly who was Selina's best friend going all the way back to her days in the streets. Hollybeven becomes Selina's eyes and ears on the street, which lead to her getting hurt.
This series helped redefine the way we looked at Selina, there was a newfound compassion and heart I never associated with the character prior to this book. Whether it was watching over her city or protecting her best friend, she had clearly turned over a new leaf.
The writing on this book is flawless and the art is even more so. Darwyn Cooke along with Mike Allred, Brad Rader and Cameron Stewart was exquisite. They evoked such a pulpy and classic style that was reminiscent of the 50s but with a modern flair. Coupled with Matt Hollingsworth's muted tones and eye catching colors, you would be hard pressed to find any flaws in this book.
Looking back at this book, it's easy to see why Brubaker became my favorite writer, Darwyn Cooke one of my favorite artists and Catwoman my favorite female character. This book was published over 15 years ago and ages extremely well. If you're looking for a great DC book to read, put this at the top of your list. It truly is one of the most underrated runs of all time.