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23 January 2014

Review: Catwoman, Vol. 1: The Dark End of the Street

Author: Ed Brubaker
Illustrator: Darwyn Cooke, Mike Allred
Publication Date: November 1, 2002
Publisher: DC Comics
Genre: Comics/Graphic Novels
Find It: GoodreadsAmazonB&N
Source: Library

For years, Selina Kyle has prowled the skyline of Gotham City as its most famous thief, Catwoman. But when word spreads of Catwoman's demise, Selina decides to leave the costumed world behind and continue her trade cloaked in the shadows. Unable to enjoy her newfound anonymity for too long though, Selina decides that she must return to her infamous persona. Donning a new costume and attitude, Catwoman returns to the streets and sets her sights on the serial killer that has been preying upon the streetwalkers she calls friends.

I recently picked up the first TPB volume of what the Catwoman reboot that was first released in the early 2002. The series, written by Ed Brubaker with art by Darwyn Cooke and Mike Allred finds Catwoman at a crossroads. With both Catwoman and her alter ego Selina Kyle believed to be dead, Catwoman decides that it's time to lay low and re-evaluate her life and the direction she wants to take it.

The story starts off in classic Brubaker style with a noir-type storyline featuring a detective, Slam Bradley, very clearly inspired by Dick Tracy, who is hired to find out if Catwoman is really dead. Brubaker does hard-boiled and gritty really well and the first couple of issues of this volume really showcase that. I wasn't familiar with Darwyn Cooke's work before this. At first I didn't think I was going to like it, but it slowly grew on me. I really liked the redesign of the Catwoman costume. It is sleek, sexy and functional - perfect for a vigilante cat burglar.

Since most of my knowledge of Catwoman comes from the movies (and I am still trying to forget the Halle Berry Catwoman), this was a really nice jumping off point into the character. It's a rebirth of sorts for Catwoman and Selina Kyle and we see her coming to terms with her life and the things she's done. She even has a therapist. Unlike Batman, Catwoman doesn't see things in black & white, but shades of grey. I like the ambiguous nature of her character. She isn't afraid to bend the rules to get what she wants. I liked her snark and attitude but also the vulnerability beneath it all.

Catwoman's first mission after coming out of hiding it to find a serial killer preying on the prostitutes of East End. I found the story to be well paced and interesting, though the identity of the serial killer and the overall resolution of the storyline was somewhat underwhelming.

Overall The Dark End of the Street is a good intro to Catwoman and is a good starting place for those who might be new to the character. Brubaker has laid the groundwork for what could be a really exciting series and I definitely want to see where he takes Catwoman next.

Visit the author online at Comic Vine and follow him on Twitter @brubaker

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