Overview

Catwoman: When in Rome #4

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Catwoman: When in Rome #4

Credits

  • Words: Jeph Loeb
  • Art: Tim Sale
  • Inks: Tim Sale
  • Colors: Dave Stewart
  • Story Title: Chapter Four: Thursday
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $3.50
  • Release Date: Feb 16, 2005

The fourth installment of the latest Loeb & Sale collaboration presents us with the ultimate cat-fight as Catwoman confronts the Cheetah in the Roman Colosseum.

While Selina Kyle continues to search Italy for answers to a personal mystery, she finds that a little bit of home has come with her. At first, it’s the Mafia using the gadgets of various Gotham City criminals. This is soon followed by the presence of a genuine super-villain, the felonious feline known as the Cheetah, who’s been hired by parties unknown to oppose Selina. The claws are out as cat battles cat and the mob continues gunning for our femme fatale.

Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale have been delivering another magnificent collaboration in Catwoman: When in Rome, producing their usual atmospheric storytelling style. A Loeb/Sale comic is like the perfect blend of a gangster movie and a superhero adventure, a miasma of ruthless criminals, shadowy streets, dangerous women, and outlandish characters. I was impressed by Loeb’s ability to juggle the savagery of this issue’s battle with moments of humor and telling bits of characterization within the flashbacks and internal monologue of the heroine. The opening sequence gives an amusing replay of Catwoman’s first meeting with Batman, showing us the none-too-auspicious note that this complex relationship began on (“You’re wasting my time.”). Loeb maintains this cynical edge throughout the script and writes, in my opinion, the definitive Catwoman—strong-willed, quick-witted, flirtatious, and impossible to tame.

My only concern with the story is slight, but it raises an interesting issue. The Cheetah’s presence in this “Year One” era tale contradicts DC’s Wonder Woman history. This matters little when it works so well for the story, but it brings to mind the high-wire act of creating consistency in a shared universe. Do the little details matter or should writers be allowed to tell their story without being hampered by continuity? It’s largely a matter of taste and I leave that for the reader to decide.

The artistic aspect of the book leaves me with no qualms at all, of course, as Tim Sale is a simply amazing illustrator. The exaggerated shapes of his characters and locales are always spectacular and put a unique stamp on the world of Catwoman. Sale’s use of shadows is masterful and it instantly establishes the dramatic mood of the story. His action sequences have a wonderful sense of flow that captures the reader’s attention and never relents. Even the design of the cover is distinctive. A streak of light and a splotch of red reveal the details of the front, while a stylized postcard adorns the back. Sale’s art is brought to stunning life by Dave Stewart’s rich watercolor techniques. Stewart’s contributions in many of my favorite comics have not gone unnoticed and I’m convinced that he’s one of the best colorists in the business.

Catwoman: When in Rome is filled with style, mystery, wit, and stunning one-of-a-kind artwork, everything we’ve come to expect of a Loeb/Sale opus. The creative team definitely has another winner.

- Eric Lindberg

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