Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Batman Eternal by Snyder & Tynion issue #23

Sometimes it's getting very easy for me to forget that Selina Kyle, Catwoman, is one of my all-time favorite female comic book characters and that's basically because New 52 hasn't been exactly doing a good job reminding me of that either. This issue was not really the first time she was featured in Eternal but it was definitely the first one where I actually cared. If you did not skip the preview issue #28 in Snyder's Batman run during Zero Year, then reading this issue will not come as a shock to you but rather a satisfactory one that has finally confirmed and explained as to why the flash-forward in #28 came to being.


I'm just gonna go ahead and spoil it now because it's the most important revelation that happens for this issue. In the preview #28 one, we see Batman and Bluebird in the future events for Eternal talking to the newest mob boss for Gotham City and it's no other than Selina Kyle herself. I remember reading that and feeling weird about it yet still equally intrigued. I think it was why I wanted to read the series in the first place (and somehow I forgot that it was due to an overload of other Bat-titles to accomplish reading in between).

This issue was heavily Catwoman-centered and there is so much warmth and humor in her characterization and in the general narrative itself. It's very personal in delivery and artist Dustin Nguyen captured every emotion that Selina has gone through in these pages which was A LOT. The transition with the other subplots (which I hardly even noticed because I was so focused on Selina) was smooth, and everything about the issue itself is an engaging dialogue between an estranged father and daughter. I haven't exactly put it together seamlessly but when it was finally revealed that Selina's long-lost father is no other than former mob-royalty Rex "The Lion" Calabrese, it wasn't nearly as shocking because I did have an inkling of suspicion but ignored it anyway. It was also set up quite convincingly since we got that scene issues before when Selina was reading a letter penned by her father, and then a few issues later Calabrese himself stepped out from the shadows to help Gordon prevent a strife from escalating inside Blackgate prison among Penguin and Falcone loyalists. The clues were laid subtly enough. 

The emotional element of this issue was written with such finesse and a great understanding of what makes the relationship between characters like Selina and Rex a difficult one and something a reader could feel invested in because it also matters plot-wise. In this issue, Rex seeks out Selina not just to reconcile with her for abandoning her years ago as a child. He seeks her out so he can also impart a strategic proposal, which was for Selina to take over as the new mob boss and put the territorial wars to an end once and for all by reuniting the criminal underworld under her rule. He claimed that it was in her blood, that she's intelligent, capable and brave enough to have a prominent leadership role. What struck me about Rex's proposal is that there was a sincerity to it and it truly does feel that he's speaking more as a parent than a crime boss. He recognizes Selina's potential and believes she can make a difference. Sure, we're still talking about two criminals here so their career choices are not exactly the noblest but the way Rex speaks about his legacy and how Selina can acquire the same greatness did move me deeply. It also holds so much weight once you contextualize this with all the fuckery and chaos Gotham City has been undergoing since Eternal began.

It's easy to forget that there can still be hope from all this blood and commotion and this conversation between Rex and Selina showed that it's possible for Gotham to have a fighting chance; and maybe one of those possibilities will include Selina Kyle embracing her new role and responsibility in all of this. She is a woman of many skills but had wasted her life short-changing herself in order to just get by. She is someone who Batman himself saw a capacity for goodness and strength in. So why not Selina Kyle as the new mob boss? Apparently, the writers agree that this would be a spectacular thing to explore seeing as they already revealed it in their preview installment months ago. Now her ascension to that throne is one of the things we can look forward to.


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