Writer: Joëlle Jones
Artist: Elena Casagrande (pgs. 1-11, 14), Le Beau Underwood (inking assist, 7-10), Hugo Petrus (12-13, 15-17), Scott Godlewski (18-38)
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Cover Artists: Joëlle Jones, Laura Allred
Editor: Jamie S. Rich
Publisher: DC Comics
After hitting shelves nearly a year ago, Joëlle Jones’s lauded Catwoman finally gets its first annual this week. It’s a one-off tale that celebrates Selina Kyle as a character while also embracing all the contradictions that make her such a unique, conflicted figure.
Selina is one of DC’s oldest characters, yet it still seems like she rarely gets her due on (and off) the page. That’s why Jones’s Catwoman was so exciting when it was announced. Spinning out of her failed nuptials to Bruce Wayne in Tom King’s Batman, Jones got to explore why Selina Kyle chose to skip out on her sometimes-lover in a way that the Caped Crusader’s own title couldn’t. In this annual however, Jones is telling a standalone Catwoman story that requires no prior knowledge of her latest exploits.
When a group of young women with ties to Selina are found dead, Catwoman is the prime suspect, and it’s up to her to prove she’s innocent. The interesting thing about this premise is that Selina was already accused of murder not too long ago in King’s Batman (which I covered in my review of Vol. 2: I Am Suicide) — albeit on a much larger scale than we see here. Why does a cat burglar like Selina seem to get framed in murder plots so frequently? She’s not a killer; she’s a thief — but that’s a digression for another day. The point is that Catwoman Annual #1 is a fun caper that shows off the strength of Jones’s understanding of the character.
Though Jones doesn’t draw any of this issue herself, she’s joined here by competent artists (four in total) that all share her general artistic sensibility. It’s easy to forget this issue has a variety of artists attached, because nothing ever feels out of place or spotty in relation to the whole. Sometimes, a cavalcade of artists telling a single story doesn’t run this smoothly, so that’s a testament to editor Jamie S. Rich’s judgement. It also helps that coloring superstar Jordie Bellaire provides a unifying visual tone that runs through all of the art — it really shouldn’t be underestimated how important a colorist can be in that specific way!