I know I've had a lot of criticisms of the 'New 52' CATWOMAN series since it's launch, and that might just be because I like the character so much that I just want to see her done a little bit of justice. Well, the first real issue into Ann Nocenti's run on CATWOMAN (following her disastrous #0 issue) starts out pretty well. The story opens with Lola, which is something I always stressed we should have seen more of. If you haven't read the series from the start, Lola was Selina's most trusted confidant and dearest friend. At the start of the series she was killed by a thug named Bone due in part to Catwoman's recklessness and irresponsibility. Here, we not only get flashbacks featuring her character, but we also get to see the repercussions of her death manifest in Catwoman's reaction. Lola was her best friend, and her death would have hit Selina pretty hard. We see glimpses of that here when someone (who clearly knows a lot about Catwoman/Selina) presents the character with items that once belonged to Lola. This is a great scene.
There are moments that indicate Selina has matured. She's surveying her surroundings and deducing what her next step should be. I think this is important to note because it shows that she's planning her moves and not throwing herself into a situation she can't get out of irresponsibly.
The story here is interesting, and definitely not what I was expecting. Catwoman has taken a job that involves moving giant chess pieces. What she doesn't realize, however, is that there are some serious repercussions to her actions. When she agrees to help a man with a "score," she didn't intend for it to involve the murder of innocent people. In this case we have Catwoman being a little bit reckless, and not very responsible; but not only that. We have Catwoman as the victim of a crime -- she's being taken advantage of. The result is a story that leaves the reader with a lot of unanswered questions and a piqued interest.
I admit I rolled my eyes at lines like "what's a hot blooded girl to do?" As funny as they are, this is Catwoman, not Mae West in 'She Done Him Wrong.' I half expected to see Catwoman say "come up and see me some time," in the next panel. A lot of the dialogue is a little silly, and I wonder if Nocenti has a hard time finding Selina's "voice." The result is conversation that feels a little bit forced and campy.
I can almost understand Selina forgetting to ask questions about why these strange chess pieces needed to be moved in the first place; but what I don't get is why she would keep these strange dolls that once belonged to Lola. In this instance it would have been smarter to investigate where these items are coming from. Instead, she seems to sort of brush them off and disregard them when she can't find the person chasing her in the start of the issue. I'm sure this will end up being explained later, but it is a moment that makes her look bad. Why would she keep these tokens that belonged to Lola? Why wouldn't she investigate further to see where they are coming from? Particularly after one of them made its way across her apartment in the middle of the night. Her character doesn't seem to be thinking logically.
I really like the art in this issue. I think that Rafa Sandoval does a fantastic job penciling this comic and doing so in a way that is really clean, not at all cheesecake and still feels a little bit sexy. It's also just really pretty.
For the most part the story is interesting. It's definitely mysterious and there is enough in this issue to pique my interest. However, there are moments where I think Catwoman doesn't appear to be as intelligent as she is. She probably shouldn't have taken the toy bear that belonged to Lola home, but she did it anyway without really asking any questions. Again, she doesn't seem to be taking precautions here. However, it's not as though Selina isn't taking any precautions at all. One of the best moments in this issue are when she's surveying her targets from a short distance, analyzing them. That's smart. She needs to do that when she's going up against more than one thug at a time. I mean she's strong, but she's not that strong.
Overall, a better start to Nocenti's run than I expected. The issue is well organized and the writing isn't that bad. Really pretty art too.