Catwoman #3 is better than the first issue, but don’t get too excited about it, at least not yet. Better is, after all, a relative word; losing your job is better than, say, losing your foot, but that doesn’t make it good.

I’m gonna start with the positive things I found in this issue, because unfortunately there’s still plenty that’s disappointing, but we’re 48 hours from a long weekend in the United States, and only 24 hours from the biggest bar night of the year, so I’m feeling charitable.

As opposed to the first issue, which felt like a bunch of plot points strung together to fill enough pages to justify Catwoman fucking Batman, there is an actual story going on here, and it’s reasonable compelling. This comic is a revenge story, plain and simple, and although it is part of a larger story arc that started in the abysmal first issue, it has the feel of a one-and-done that’s refreshing.

We open with Catwoman captured and one of her closest confidants killed,and proceed at a rapid and exciting pace through her escape, hunting of the killer and taking revenge upon him, all in 20-something pages. It feels complete, which is all-too-rare in the New 52 books so far, and it ends with a cliffhanger vastly more satisfying than the first issue, where the only thing we were left wondering was how you get semen out of kevlar.

In addition, after three issues, it finally feels like writer Judd Winick has something in more mind behind Catwoman’s motivations than “Stealing and fucking! Wheeeee!” Don’t get me wrong: as a psychological study, it ain’t exactly Daredevil: Born Again, and the deep psychological observation of “Group homes make kids sad” isn’t gonna win Winick the Nobel Prize. But considering we started this series with the only apparent reason for Catwoman to exist was being a place for Batman to stick his dick, I’ll count this as a step in the right direction.

Okay, you’ve been patient. Let’s get to the bad shit. Of which there is still plenty.

Let’s move to Guillem March’s art. I finally realized one of the things that just rubs me the wrong way about Catwoman, and it’s March’s fault. Scroll up and take a look at the cover to this issue. Really look at it. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Did you see it?

Catwoman’s goggles are in the exact shape of a bra.

It’s not enough that we opened this series by introducing the title character with nothing but a sequence of boob and ass shots, or that this book finds an arbitrary way to throw strippers into it so March has an excuse in a reasonably hard-boiled revenge tale to draw some more cheesecake shots. No, instead March, apparently aided and abeted by the book’s editor, seems to have said, “You know what this book needs? More knockers. Sure, Catwoman has a nice set, but – and hear me out here – wouldn’t she be better if she also had tits… on her face?”

Don’t get me wrong – March does give good cheesecake, and his action sequences are at least passable. But we open this issue, on the first page, with this:

What’s wrong with Catwoman’s face? Bent over, vacant stare that doesn’t seem to focus on anything, lips slightly parted, apparently being held upright by the face… Selina Kyle is one runner of drool away from going Full Retard. That word balloon feels like it should read, “My Mama always told me that life is like a box of chocolates…”

And once again, Winick finds an excuse to bring Batman in for a makeout session with Catwoman. It adds nothing to the story except to give a voice to Catwoman’s conscience, which could have been done any number of ways without reiterating that Yup: They’re Fucking.

Why does this keep happening? Was the decision made to cater to the demographic who buys the Axel Braun superhero porno parodies? Did I miss a memo where it was decided to make Catwoman some kind of young adult urban fantasy? Will there be a werewolf? Will I have to choose a team!? If so, I’m Team Man-Bat. Because I like it weird like that. But I digress.

This book has shown some improvement, and if you’re in the market for a self-contained story, well, your choices are limited, so it’s probably worth at least flipping through on the stand. But this book is still deeply, deeply flawed. I still can’t, and won’t, recommend it… but I may check back in in a few issues to see if it has continued to improve… or if I need to buy a Team Gleek t-shirt

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