Exploding Jewels and Strong Jabs; Catwoman Volume 4: Gotham Underground

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9781401246273_p0_v2_s260x420Catwoman Volume #4: Gotham Underground is part of the realm of The New 52 series from DC Comics. As part of a plan with the Justice League, Catwoman is arrested and thrown into Arkham Asylum so that she is able to figure out all of its secrets. With the help of some of the madder patients (including Black Mask), Catwoman is able to escape but not without knowledge of a few things. After making enemies of almost everyone she comes into contact with (Penguin, Dr. Phosphorous), Catwoman finds herself in the middle of underground gang warfare; as in, all of the battle are actually occurring under the streets of Gotham. In order to protect the people she cares for, Catwoman must find a way to stop the wars and bring down the heads of the underground gangs.

I will admit that as a lifelong comic book reader, I had grown weary of all things Superhero. Batman bored me, and even my beloved Catwoman was giving me yawns. Writer Ann Nocenti brought me back to the fold of Catwoman fandom. She uses strong females such as Catwoman and the Joker’s Daughter to highlight that it’s not just the men who can be the bad guys. Even Tinderbox, Dr. Phosphorus’s daughter, turns out to be far more interesting than previously imagined. Alice Tesla is possibly my favorite character; dressed like something out of a Steampunk Festival, she acts as Catwoman’s research and development team for weapons and reconnaissance equipment. She is slightly morbid and incredibly brilliant. The only truly uncomfortable part of the comic was listening to Tinderbox whine to Dr. Phosphorus that she wanted a husband. When there is actually a discussion of her breeding with the son of a rival ganglord it got even worse. The comic could have thrived without much of the nature of this action.

Like most of DC, the artwork is consistent throughout. Catwoman wears her New 52 outfit and has a much sleeker, less hookerish, look to her now. It is evident she is a thief. The Joker’s Daughter is utterly terrifying. With what looks like The Joker’s rotting white face over her own and a discolored eye, Joker’s Daughter gives readers the uncomfortable feeling that anything could happen and none of it would be pleasant.

Catwoman Volume 4: Gotham Underground is fast paced and entertaining from page one. From the walls of Arkham Asylum to Gotham’s underground gangs Catwoman is fun and fast to read. This collection includes: Catwoman Issue #20-24, 26, Catwoman Annual #1, Batman: The Dark Knight #23 and 24, The Joker’s Daughter.

Catwoman Volume 4: Gotham Underground is available now.

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