Catwoman, Volume 2: No Easy Way Down is a large collected edition which collects some of the smaller editions/stories (Joy Ride, Relentless, No Easy Way Down and Catwoman: Secret Files and Origins) from Ed Brubaker’s run. It follows on from my 5 star review for Volume 1: Trail of the Catwoman. It has similar art, characters and tone which will be extremely pleasing for anyone who enjoyed the first part.
What’s made Ed Brubaker’s run so good to me is that Catwoman and her supporting cast have been drawn and written that makes them appear so human and relatable. Selina Kyle/Catwoman when used in other characters storyline can be seen as a sidekick who comes in, fights for a bit, does a one liner and then disappears again, we rarely get to know the real Selina and what she goes through.
Joyride, is a short story about how Selina Kyle always repays her favours and is loyal to those who have helped her out either in the present or the past. It’s a good start to the book to jog people’s memories if they read Volume 1 a while ago before throwing in them straight in with a multi issue story. There are also flashbacks to her past which is a recurring and important theme in Brubaker’s run.
Now, for the meat of the book is Relentless. One of the most famous Catwoman arcs/comics of all time and sees a figure from the past (Sylvia) and from the present (Black Mask) come to take revenge and really make Catwoman hurt for some of the things in the past. Relentless was started in Volume 1 as we learn of a new power in the East End who up until now has remained hidden. This is a tough issue to take as Catwoman sees people around her be hurt because of her. I love how gritty and dark this issue is and how serious Brubaker is about Catwoman and her legacy. We often see Catwoman dish it out but in Relentless we see just how much she can take to save her friends and family. We also see Holly come into her own albeit in tragic circumstances.
I particularly liked the artwork here and the choice of colouring which makes Black Mask and his dungeon look even more grim. Catwoman: Relentless is a noir driven, brutal arc which is possible the greatest Catwoman story ever written. If you don’t want to buy the whole collected edition then you can just buy this arc alone – I would recommend doing either.
The next arc is No Easy Way Down and acts as a “break” following the shock ending of Relentless. It focuses on three narratives and expands on the lore for “The People of Gotham” particularly Karon/Holly and Slam Bradley. The latter being a character which has been used so effectively to really drive Brubaker’s Catwoman forward. Slam is such an interesting and honest character and almost mirrors what it must be like as a “normal person” who is involved with someone like Selina Kyle.
It isn’t an amazing storyline, especially as a stand alone but as part of a collected edition connecting the characters it serves its purpose reasonably well.
The final full arc of No Easy Way Down is Wild Ride and sees Catwoman and Holly escape the city for a well deserved break. There’s somewhat of an omen included as Catwoman begins to groom Holly as a possible sidekick. However, the meat of the book is how affected Catwoman is by the events around her and how she really is human underneath the spandex and mask. She is struggling, as is Holly, as as a reader you get to experience some of the best writing I’ve ever seen. At this point the artwork does begin to modernise and a lot of the cartoony stuff which was way more prevalent in Volume 1 is gone. It is welcomed.
Finally, in Catwoman: Secret Origin and files we have single issue specials as a bonus which are 1-2 pages long. A nice quick and easy treat with no real purpose other than to just entertain rather than grip. However, one of the issues with the Black Mask is out of continuation and should have been put in before Relentless, but that’s nitpicking.
Overall, Volume 2: No Easy Way Down continues Brubaker’s excellent run and although it isn’t quite at the same level as Volume 1 it is still absolutely brilliant and a must read in my opinion for any serious Bat-family comic book readers. If not, at least get Relentless.
Next is Ed Brubaker’s final issues in Under Pressure.
Last update on 2019-02-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API