Review: Catwoman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular

Catwoman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular
Catwoman 80th Anniversary Joëlle Jones Cover Writers: Paul Dini, Ann Nocenti, Tom King, Jeff Parker, Liam Sharp, Mindy Newell, Chuck Dixon, Will Pfeifer, Ram V and Ed Brubaker
Artists: Emanuela Lupacchino, Mick Gray, Robson Rocha, Daniel Henriques, Mikel Janín, Jonathan Case, Liam Sharp, Lee Garbett, Kelley Jones, Danny Miki, Pia Guerra, Fernando Blanco and Cameron Stewart
Color Artists: Laura Allred, Alejandro Sánchez, Jordie Bellaire, Jonathan Case, Liam Sharp, Alex Sinclair, Steve Oliff, John Kalisz, FCO Plascencia and Cameron Stewart
Letterers: Wes Abbott, Saida Temofonte, Clayton Cowles, Jonathan Case, Tom Napolitano, Tom Orzechowski, Steve Wands, Gabriela Downie and Cameron Stewart
Review by Steve J. Ray

We’ve already seen Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and Robin celebrate this milestone, now it’s Selina Kyle’s turn. Yes, fellow Batfans, the Catwoman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular has finally arrived, and it’s simply puuurrrfect. This special has claws!
It’s incredible, and a testament to all the amazing creative talents that have contributed to her story, that Catwoman has become only the second female character to have entertained us for over eight decades! That’s one hell of an achievement, particularly when you consider that for most of that time she was a villain.
This beautiful volume looks back at all those years, and presents them in a way that I’m sure will inspire and delight fans, writers, and artists for decades to come.

Skin The Cat

The collection starts off with a tale that showcases Selina’s tenacity, and detective skills that would impress even the Batman. Writer Paul Dini perfectly delivers the animal loving Catwoman that we’ve all seen in Batman: The Animated Series, and throughout her comics adventures.
Then we get the beautiful art of Emanuela Lupacchino and Mick Gray, subtly and sensitively colored by Laura Allred. Smooth, seductive, deadly. This describes the visuals, Catwoman herself and the big cats she loves so much.
The story is capped off by some sublime lettering and sound effects by DC mainstay, Wes Abbott.

Now You See Me

Don’t mess with Catwoman! This charming little tale, written by veteran scribe Ann Nocenti and drawn by Robson Rocha, shows us why. It’s great seeing Ann back, as I’ve loved her work for decades. Paired with the smooth, flowing lines by Rocha, lovingly inked by Daniel Henriques, we get the Cat at her bellicose best.
The colors by Alejandro Sánchez and letters by Saida Temofonte are great too, and it’s always lovely seeing Selina’s iconic Batman Returns costume.

Helena

Wow. This is one I’ve been looking forward to since I broke the story of Catwoman’s pregnancy, back in February. Tom King and Mikel Janín have delivered some epic Bat/Cat tales, and this one is no exception. In just eight pages this team has, once again, made me smile, made me laugh and made me feel. I don’t know how many of Tom King’s stories that feature the future of Batman and Catwoman are “real”, but I’d sign up for any and all of them.
The dialogue, the emotion, the humor – all of it works in perfectly written, and beautifully drawn harmony. This is as good a short story as you’re ever likely to find, in any medium.
“Bat-Bucket” I love it!
Jordie Bellaire’s color art and Clayton Cowles’ letters are the icing on the cake.
This story could serve as the perfect bridge between Batman #1-#85 and the forthcoming (can’t wait) Batman/Catwoman. If this gorgeous little story doesn’t make your heart skip a beat, then I don’t actually think that you have one.

The Catwoman of Earth

Anthologies give creative talents the opportunity to really flex their storytelling muscles. This brilliant, funny story would fit right in with the 60s Batman TV show, and the 50s comics that inspired it. Seeing this version of Catwoman, and reading the narrator’s voice as that of William Dozier, actually works a treat for this women’s lib, 60s slice of alien invasion nostalgia.
Jeff Parker has written a time-warped treat of a story, with stellar art, colors and letters by the multi-talented Jonathan Case.
Cosmic tyrants beware… you may have lasers, robots and tentacle monsters, but we have a Catwoman.

A Cat Of Nine Tales

Not only is Liam Sharp a terrific person to talk to, he’s one of the most talented dudes in the business. This story was written, drawn and colored by the bombastic Brit, with letters by the wonderful Wes Abbott.
If you can show me another three page tale where we really get to see every aspect of Catwoman, either real, or imagined by one of her adversaries, I’ll buy myself a hat and eat it. This lady is awesome, intimidating and so, so smart. Liam Sharp demonstrates all of that, in just three pages.
Think that’s impressive? There was a completely different creative team assigned to produce a story for this collection, but it fell through at the last minute, so Liam was asked if he could help out at the eleventh hour. He pitched this story, got it approved, then wrote, drew, inked and colored it all in 24 hours.
Now that’s impressive.

Little Bird

This story took me right back! From Tom Napolitano’s spot-on Catwoman: Year One title font and lettering, to Lee Garbett and Alex Sinclair’s brilliant art and color, I was transported to 1989 and Selina’ first solo series. Oh… the fact that we have Mindy Newell, the writer who gave us that classic tale also writing this one was a real treat too!
This era of Catwoman had its detractors, but Mindy Newell and Frank Miller gave her a history and humanity with their Year One stories, making Selina Kyle a living, breathing character, not just a costumed thief. “Little Bird” does the same again, showing us a young Selina, the Year One version, and the Batman partner/adversary relationship we all know and love.
That’s a lot to cram into ten pages, and it’s brilliantly done.

Born To Kiln

Chuck Dixon wrote some of the most entertaining Batman, Robin and Catwoman tales of the 90s, so seeing him back for the Catwoman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular has made this old fan very, very happy.
Oh, yes.
It’s sad that he wasn’t Joined by Jim Balent, but I’m not going to sniff at Catwoman drawn by Kelley Jones and Danny Miki!
Oh, no (and we still get a lovely Jim Balent pin-up page in the issue too, so all is good).
Kelley drew some stellar covers back in the 90s, some of them featuring Selina in the famous purple catsuit, sporting her flowing, long, black hair. That look is back with a vengeance in this little tale, which is colored and lettered by 90s superstars Steve Oliff, and Tom Orzechowski.
Basil Karlo should know better than to face Catwoman with a half-baked plan for a jewellery heist. If I haven’t given away the ending, the story title will take you the rest of the way.

Conventional Wisdom

As someone who loves conventions, and as a major Batman/Catwoman fan, this story is a winner. Full of laugh out loud moments and keen con insights, writer Will Pfeifer and artist Pia Guerra have delivered a great, great little tale. I knew what was happening from the fourth panel, but Selina’s confusion, and the convention organiser’s dialogue, had me enthralled throughout.
I have to rate and respect both Pia’s line art and the great work of color artist John Kalisz, as the shift in tone from the main story to the end is masterfully handled. To paraphrase a certain Marvel maniac, they break, like, 16 walls.
Steve Wands’ retro lettering helps with the surreal feel of the strip. Great fun.

Addicted To Trouble

The future begins now.
One of the things I’ve loved about all these specials is the way they lead to what’s coming next. Yes, there’re a ton of nods to the past, homages, winks and nostalgia… but all those are appetisers. The Catwoman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular also gives us the first step along the path towards tomorrow.
While I’m sad that Joëlle Jones is no longer on the monthly Catwoman book, the creative team that’s taking over is a great one. This awesome anthology gives us their debut! Ram V has been doing some great work on the indie scene, not least with his stellar work on Vault Comics’ These Savage Shores. He’s already written for the main Catwoman series, and is also doing terrific things over on DC’s Justice League Dark. If that stuff, and “Addicted To Trouble” are anything to go by, then Selina’s comic-book future is in very safe hands.
Artist Fernando Blanco is already a firm favorite, as I loved his art on the greatly missed Batwoman series. This guy can draw anything! Scenery, cityscapes, faces, figures, explosions, heroes, villains, vehicles, fight scenes… the whole nine. Just check out the art below, and I’m sure you’ll agree.
FCO Plascencia is a terrific color artist and his work here is superb. Gabriella Downie’s letters and sound effects finish off this great little look at the Catwoman of right now perfectly.
I’m really looking forward to Catwoman #25.

The Art Of Picking A Lock

There’s no doubt that the Ed Brubaker/Darwyn Cooke/Cameron Stewart run on Catwoman, back in the early 2000s is still one of – if not the – greatest ever. Sadly, we won’t be seeing new Darwyn Cooke art… but Brubaker and Stewart have still more than “got it.” Wow! this strip rocks!
We get to see Selina’s love of lock-picking, a car chase for the ages, trains, crashes, splashes, and everyone’s favorite “moron.” In a collection that’s full of great stories, this is another favorite.
One of Brubaker and Stewart’s best known arcs was called “Wild Ride” and this little diamond of a story is just that, and the perfect tale to end the wonderful Catwoman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular with.

Conclusion

What a comic! Detective Comics #1000 and the Robin 80th Anniversary Special now have stiff competition in my all time fave anniversary issues category. All three books are wonderful, and honor these amazing characters brilliantly.
Of course, there is another Batman character celebrating his 80th Anniversary this year, and that’s no laughing matter! Will the Joker 100-page special be as good as it’s predecessors? Only time will tell, but I’ll be waiting, with a hopeful, crooked smile on my face.
As for this issue? Well… it’s the cat’s whiskers, in my humble opinion.
Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment

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