Let us here at PoP! guide you through a minefield of books that seem full of win from the word go, but which once you crack them open have you shouting… It’s a Trap!
Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale are one of the most prolific creative teams working in comics. Their Long Halloween became an instant classic and the team has collaborated numerous times since. While Loeb’s writing is hit or miss for me and Sale’s art has never been my favorite, even I can’t deny that the two can usually work some serious magic together.
Catwoman: When in Rome purports to be a “Catwoman murder mystery” but the true mystery is “what’s the point.” Selina heads to Rome with Edward Nigma in tow and no idea why. Why doesn’t she know why she’s there? Plot device, that’s why. Loeb makes the reader trudge through four issues of Catwoman asking herself “why am I here” in a less than existential fashion before – with no clear reason why – telling us she’s come to Rome looking for Roman Falcone’s wife to ask if she’s their daughter. Four issues of claiming to not know why she’s there, then suddenly an “Oh yeah!” moment of clarity leads her to seek out her true parentage?
The trappings of the plot are little more than an excuse to parade out some Bat-villains (or at least simulacrums) along the way as well. It’s like Hush Light. Let’s see… there’s the Riddler, a substitute Mr. Freeze, Scarecrow, Joker and Two-Face (despite not ACTUALLY being in the story), and Wonder Woman’s nemesis Cheetah thrown in for good measure. So yeah, pretty much EXACTLY Hush Light. Which would be less vexing had it come first and served as the template for Hush, instead of being released after and being nothing more than a watered down version. “Spoiler alert”…
…it was Riddler again. Yup.
The book isn’t TOTALLY awful. Sale manages to draw a few particularly sexy panels of Selina, though I’ll NEVER get behind his whiskered Catwoman mask. Loeb even manages an effective red herring, making Selina’s partner in crime, “The Blonde,” seem to surely be Bruce Wayne in disguise. “Spoiler alert”… it isn’t. That actually surprised me. In the end, however, the book is just directionless drivel that feels very made-up-as-they-went-along.
If you’re a fan of Sale and Loeb’s collaborations, it may be worth checking out for shits and giggles. Then again, if you’re a fan, you may want to steer clear to keep your opinion of the dynamic duo in tact. Catwoman: When in Rome gets 2 out of 5 albino ice ray operators.