All paths have led to this very moment as Father Valley and Catwoman collide in one of the most powerful and devastatingly beautiful issues in a run that has been amazing with every single issue. Truly, go now and pick this series up in print or digital format and catch up because there is no doubt it will only continue to get better and better with everything to come.
One thing that will never ever be tiring to say is stating just how absolutely wonderful and even potentially perfect the current run on Catwoman truly is. Every issue just continues to find new ways to make this series even better than the last, and that is truly a pretty great skill.
Ram V, Fernando Blanco, Jordie Bellaire, and Tom Napolitano come together for their last issue together (Blanco is moving on to other work as Nina Vakueva comes onto this series) and they make it count big time. There is a whole ton to really digest with this issue from the rekindling of BatCat stuff (the duo somewhat breaking their one year apart vow), to a big showdown with Father Valley, the continuing siege of Alleytown, and what seems to be the possible untimely demise of one of Selina Kyle’s allies.
Together Blanco and Bellaire have been delivering a book that is just gorgeous to look at as it really pulls off that noir-like vibe that fits this book. At the same time, no two issues look identical as the color palettes change regularly to fit the mood of the book. One of the really brilliant moves here is something that many would deem simple but it actually is truly big as it ramps up the reality of the situation.
That move is the large amounts of orange that dominate the backgrounds of the vast majority of any pages or panels that depict the outside of Alleytown. The city is on fire in many regards, Father Valley blowing up a church and the Magistrate/GCPD descending upon the part of the city, and this color choice continues to remind you of that with every page. Big fires and events like this change how places look, spoken as someone that doesn’t live in the areas ravaged by wildfires in California but is close enough that the entire skyline is altered because of it.
Blanco has truly mastered the ability to present greatly detailed artwork with a designed “rough” feel, which fits perfectly with a book like Catwoman. That detail can also slightly fade away when called for to bring attention to other aspects on the page, such as in some of the fight scenes or long-distance scenes where the focus is just meant to be on the overall happening. Blanco’s art is also really emotive, as the facial expressions are spot on and feel genuine where you can feel the rage or happiness or sadness or love that is meant to be on display.
As with all things in this book, the dialogue bubbles here have their own little flair to them where they are a little rough around the edges and stand apart from what one considers to be correct, a lot like Selina Kyle herself. Napolitano delivers the moderate amount of dialogue in the issue, a ton of the dialogue comes from Father Valley and Detective Hadley, with just the right amount of emphasis while making sure it flows.
The SFX have a whole life of their own and are saved for the fight scenes, really hitting home even more just how brutal the fight between Catwoman and Father Valley gets and the toll it takes on them both in the process.
Ram V proves time and time again to just be one of the writers who can take different characters and genres and just make it all work and none of it feel the same. The only thing that feels the same is the level of care, detail, and life that he breathes into any of the books. A number of the last few issues really sold how much of a powerhouse Selina Kyle can be and it’s paid off here as she stands against Father Valley after his surprise attack in the last issue. Her part of Gotham is under siege, and despite Batman offering a way out, she refuses and takes her stand.
This work that Ram V does goes beyond Selina though. Every character is compelling from Father Valley to Detective Hadley to Maggie to all of the members of The Strays. They are deeply fleshed out and mean a lot to the book, so much so that the loss of any of the characters close to Selina feels like a big powerful blow. That is on full display with this issue and leaves you wanting the next issue to hurry up and arrive.
Next up come the issues tied into the Batline Fear State event, so things aren’t going to get any easier for Selina Kyle and her allies, but that’s a large part of what makes things so compelling.
Catwoman #34 is now on sale in print and digitally from DC Comics.