As one of the most popular characters in the Batman franchise Catwoman has had several ongoing comic books with many notable creative teams over her 80 year history. Joëlle Jones just finished up her run on Catwoman’s latest ongoing series in March with Catwoman #21. Over the course of her Jones take on Selina Kyle was based on several different major events in the character’s life. The most recent one being the failed wedding between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. The other was the events that led Selina’s sister, Maggie Kyle, to be in a catatonic state. Now with Jones run wrapped up it is time to spotlight what made the run such a notable chapter in Catwoman’s long history.
SELINA KYLE CAN’T RUN FROM HER PAST
Joëlle Jones’ Catwoman #1 began not long after Selina Kyle became a runaway bride by leaving Bruce Wayne at the altar at the end of Tom King’s Batman #50. From that point forward Jones examined what the ramifications of that decision had on Selina. Even when she became entangled in the greater plot Raina Creel had for Selina’s new home city of Villa Hermosa leaving Bruce weighed heavily on Selina.
While the reason she left Gotham City hovered over Selina throughout Jones’ entire run, it wasn’t the only thing that defined this series. Jones used that action as a launching point to delve deeper into all the things that Selina buried deep inside herself. That includes what her relationship with her sister, Maggie Kyle, is and trying to reforge that bond.
The other big questions that Jones tackles is if Selina can fully let go of her villainous past. We see through Catwoman’s clashes with Raina Creel, Penguin and Lex Luthor. All three characters remind Selina of what she has done in the past as a villain while being Catwoman. Forcing Selina to address this allowed her to grow into realizing that is not who she is. She doesn’t need to waffle back and forth between hero and villain. She can be a hero that uses her thieving skills for good.
STRENGTHENING THE KYLE SISTERS BOND
A big part of Jones’ run, and the note she ends things with, is the relationship between Selina and Maggie Kyle. Maggie Kyle is someone that we haven’t seen in quite a while. Maggie has gone through a lot as she was tortured by Black Mask, which included witnessing her husband’s death among other gruesome things. That was all done in Black Mask’s bid to break Catwoman because of their intense rivalry. After going through that Maggie completely broke and placed in a mental hospital. The last major story where we saw her was back in the Gotham City Sirens days.
Now after years of DC Comics not addressing the state of their relationship Jones dove right into the importance of the Kyle’s sisters bond. Due to Maggie’s catatonic state the development from most of Jones’ run came from Selina’s perspective. But even then Jones effectively used Selina’s dialogue whenever the two interacted with each other to stress how important they’ve been to each other. These scenes went a long way in humanizing Selina, especially in the midst of a story that became more fantastical as things with Raina Creel’s plot went along.
That is not to say we didn’t get a lot from Maggie. Credit to Jones and her fellow artists who made sure to make subtle shifts in perspective to give some sense of emotion coming from Maggie’s face even in her catatonic state. The angles they chose when Selina was talking showed how her sister’s words were slowly getting through. That all made the payoff at the end of Catwoman #21 that showed Selina and a responsive Maggie driving back to Gotham City even more rewarding.
EXAMINING RELATIONSHIP WITH BRUCE WAYNE THROUGH SELINA KYLE’S PERSPECTIVE
As mentioned before, Jones’ Catwoman launched straight out of the events of King’s Batman #50. With how Selina left things with Bruce on a terrible note there was no ignoring the impact of this relationship. Selina was the one who made the choice to break it off. So there was no avoiding addressing the fallout from that.
Jones immediately did that in Catwoman #1 with Alfred Pennyworth sending her the Catwoman costume she left behind with a letter that is a direct punch to the gut. From there Jones shows us various hints at how much Selina regretted the decision she made. Because as we see, especially towards the end of the run, Selina still loved Bruce and wished things were different.
In addressing her relationship with Bruce’s relationship Jones was able to give us a lot more of Selina’s perspective. While we got some of that during King’s run, Jones’ Catwoman took more of the opportunity to show the importance from Selina’s eyes. Jones’ Catwoman quickly became a comic book that strengthened the overall Batman Family line of comic books.That is an important thing to establish, especially as we saw Bruce and Selina get back together at the end of King’s Batman run.
NEW SETTING LEADS TO UNEXPECTED VILLAIN RISE
Going to live in a new city, in the form of Villa Hermosa, gave Selina Kyle the opportunity to build her own cast of characters that did not need to be tied to Batman or Gotham City. That opportunity was fully taken advantage of as we saw new characters join Catwoman’s supporting cast. More importantly, Jones took the time over her 18 issue run to develop Raina Creel to be one of the greatest foes that Selina has ever taken on.
The build for Raina Creel’s rise to power was not without its stumbles. Towards the end Jones went all in on Raina Creel’s monstrous look with a final plot that leaned into that. But even as ridiculous as things got with Catwoman fighting off the zombie-like setting Raina Creel created there was a core fear of the character that was kept. Raina Creel was a villain that manipulated her way to the top. And even when Catwoman beat her in their initial meeting Raina Creel took the opportunity to break out even more as she went all in on being a villain.
JOELLE JONES WRITING IMPRESSES, ARTWORK STUNS
Before Catwoman I was only familiar of Joëlle Jones artwork in Batman and other comic books. So I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this new series. Happily, I was very impressed by Jones writing throughout her run on Catwoman. She showed a strong understanding of how to pace each issue of Catwoman to tell a greater story that had a strong payoff.
With that said, what was most impressive about Jones run was the art standard she set starting herself. She created a unique grounded style that stood out from every other DC Comics title on the market. From how she framed different scenes to the overall character designs, there were a lot of breathtaking scenes that Jones drew.
Most importantly by starting out as both the writer and artists Jones set the tone for the general look around the world of Villa Hermosa in Catwoman. That was carried on by other artists like Fernando Blanco, Aneke, Geraldo Borges and Inaki Miranda. Each artist took the style that Jones established and made sure to carry it on in the issues they drew. Blanco in particular stood as a great match for this series as he was the most frequent penciler who collaborated with Jones.
Joëlle Jones delivered a thoughtful run on Catwoman that properly developed Selina Kyle’s character. Over the course of Jones’ 18 issue run we saw Selina go through a lot of growth. That includes expanding on the importance of Selina’s relationship with Bruce Wayne and sister Maggie Kyle. As it all came to an end Jones definitely left her mark on Catwoman’s 80 year history that fans should all go back and read if you haven’t already.
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