Catwoman, Volume 1: Trail of the Catwoman Review

Catwoman Volume 1: Trail of the Catwoman is the first volume is Ed Brubaker’s famous Catwoman run from 2012.  Often hailed as a great reinvention of both Selina Kyle and Catwoman, Trail of the Catwoman the collected edition includes Selina’s Big Score which itself is a phenomenal book alongside Catwoman #1-#9 and Detective Comics #759-#762. This is a hefty book which is high on quality from start to finish. Ever thought about getting into Catwoman comics but unsure where? Start here.

The whole book is a noir crime thriller that isn’t your average superhero comic. There’s practically no character with superpowers (a newly transformed Clayface appears) and the enemies are drug dealers, abusers and dirty cops. Throughout my read of this book I thought “This really should be a film!” it was just well written, drawn and paced.

It all starts with Selina’s Big Score and explores Selina’s return to Gotham for one last heist following her apparent death at the hands of Catwoman (Yes, it was done to make it look like Catwoman killed Selina). It’s got a seriously retro feel to the storyline as well as the artwork, it often reminded me of Dick Tracy. Darwyn Cooke really pulled a blinder with this one as it’s as close to being a drawn film as you will ever see. There are also some brilliantly written conversations between Selina and the supporting cast, most prominently Slam Bradley and Stark in Salina’sBig Score and then Slam and Holly after. It’s a thriller that will keep you turning page after page long into the night.

It’s an intriguing book which really shines a light on Selina as a character and she is not just a character who sometimes appears in Batman books. No, Selina is a character with a lot of depth and history and a complicated person with even more complicated relationships – her relationship with Stark in particular is an interesting one while being tragic.

Following Selina’s Big Score there are 4 issues from Detective Comics which show us what Slam Bradley got up to and gives new readers a chance to learn what kind of a character Slam is. He is a fairly major character in the Catwoman series; he’s a grizzled product-of-his-time, sort of guy and oftentimes quite funny. But, to understand who Catwoman really is you need to learn who she spends her time with and these issues are great to expand readers understanding of the titular character. The artwork here changes somewhat but it is still very similar which doesn’t create too much jarring.

In these filler issues Slam has been tasked with finding Catwoman as many people in Gotham believe she is in fact alive and well, Slam gets roughed up a but along the way but ultimately makes a startling discovery which leads him to find Catwoman and help her when he finds out what’s really going on in Gotham City. These issues also push the crime/noir feel to the next level and you almost forget you’re reading a Catwoman book.

If you consider Selina’s Big Score and Slam’s issues as the intro then the second part is the real beginning to Trail of the Catwoman and are the first 9 issues in Catwoman (2012). It’s a bit of a step down from what we’ve seen so far but still brilliant as Selina heads back to Gotham as Catwoman proper to take care of the defenceless in the East End. Catwoman may be a thief but she has a heart of gold and genuinely cares for the people. The two main stories are the murders of the working girl’s of the East End at the hands of an unknown-as-yet Clayface and the corruption inside the GCPD with cops heavily involved in drug dealing. Ultimately, the real villain is exposed right at the end which acts as an intro into Volume 2: No Easy Way Down.

The artwork can change from time to time during Trail of the Catwoman but generally retains the noir-esque pulpy look of decades ago New York. The writing is stellar from start to finish with nicely fleshed out characters, genuine relationships and a very nicely paced storyline.

This book is wonderful and we couldn’t recommend it any more!

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Catwoman Volume 1: Trail of the Catwoman
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