CATWOMAN #8 by Joëlle Jones, Elena Casagrande, Fernando Blanco, and John Kalisz
CATWOMAN #8 takes a new approach in storytelling at the hands of Joëlle Jones. She tells a darker story while Elena Casagrande, Fernando Blanco and John Kalisz illustrate character in retro art with horror inspiration. This is a cool and interestign approach compared to previous issues.
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Old faces from Gotham and Villa Hermosa return in CATWOMAN #8. Joëlle Jones does well to finish the “Something Smells Fishy,” story arc while inserting scenes that introduce what’s next in the CATWOMAN series. She also leans towards the darker side of storytelling. Artists Elena Casagrande and Fernando Blanco team up to illustrate a clear and concise story while introducing a different art style. Colorist John Kalisz contributes to the new art style by relying on heavy shadow and dark hues. The art section, in general, adds intensity to the plot with their new concepts while drawing inspiration from classic horror icons.

Selina’s Up to Old Tricks While Raina’s Up to New Ones

With Penguin in Villa Hermosa comes trouble for Selina. He requested Selina to steal an item — the Reliquary from which Raina bought liquid elixir from. Raina uses the elixir to bring her son Adam back to life. Penguin tells her that he holds a letter from her friend Holly. The letter talks about a “misunderstanding.”

Whatever that means, it convinces Selina to help Penguin. The woman who holds the Reliquary (her name’s unknown to the reader) warns Raina and Selina (at separate times) that it causes nothing but demise for those who try to change fate. Selina successfully obtains the Reliquary but is met with Penguin and his many henchmen surrounding and kidnapping her, therefore ending the story arc.

Thievery With a Touch of Necromancy Equals a Darker Approach to the Plot

CATWOMAN #8 is the darkest issue thus far. Jones pioneers the idea of horror storytelling by incorporating manipulation, thievery, and necromancy. Penguin seems to ultimately manipulate Selina into doing a job for him by using a letter from a friend. I think bringing Penguin into the picture is a good strategy for progressing the plot.

I believe that if Penguin wasn’t such a smart and manipulative person with the cunning to convince Selina to revert back to her old ways, we would’ve gone in a less complex direction. This makes the future of CATWOMAN all the more interesting. Without Penguin, we would only have one collective antagonist — the Creel family. With Penguin in the picture, Selina now has two group antagonists to deal with.

CATWOMAN #8 Page 5. Image courtesy of DC Comics.

As for the necromancy, it’s an unexpected addition to the plot development. Jones uses the Reliquary to further Raina’s plans and creates trouble for Selina. This is a well-executed strategy. Not only does she use Reliquary as a way to drive the plot, but she creates a motif. Reliquary sparks discussion between the mysterious woman and Selina about the consequence of changing fate. I think Jones used that conversation as a way to teach the reader about using “magic” in the real world or “playing God.” The moral of the lesson is that there are forces that no human should play with.

Channeling Retro and Darkness in the Art of CATWOMAN #8

Casagrande, Blanco, and Kalisz have strong elements of retro comic art and the use of darker shades. These new adaptions illustrated by the art team shows an obvious change of mood to the story. In CATWOMAN #7, we had a feeling that Selina had a chance to breathe and relax in her new life. She and her surroundings were drawn in lighter colors. With Penguin written into the story, I think he inspired the art section to go dark and retro with CATWOMAN #8. Granted, we aren’t sure why Penguin’s in the story or what his intentions are with the Reliquary.

However, I think it is justifiable to say that his interest in the Reliquary and dragging Selina into the situation is what drives this part of the plot and what influences the sudden change in the art. The dark shades and heavy shadows by Kalisz are a symbol of Selina channeling her old habits because of Penguin and the horror theme. I think the choice of retro comic art is appropriate, especially in Raina’s panels.

CATWOMAN #8 Page 2. Image courtesy of DC Comics.

I think adding classic horror inspiration to CATWOMAN #8 makes it stand out from previous issues. The illustrations and colors that stand out to me most are those used in Adam’s face. Casagrande, Blanco, and Kalisz use their skills the best here to create their own classic horror monster with retro art, pale white skin and blue defining lines to make him unique. I feel the horror monsters that influenced the artists are Lon Chaney’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and the 1931 FRANKENSTEIN film poster.  I personally enjoy these particular horror monsters and love how the art team incorporates horror into CATWOMAN #8.

Final Thoughts on CATWOMAN #8

Overall, the story flow is easy to follow. The reader doesn’t get lost from a writing or artistic perspective. Every panel and layout gives the reader an effortless reading experience. I personally didn’t see any holes in the plot since I’ve been reading since the first issue. However, after adding Penguin, some readers may not be happy after reading CATWOMAN #8 because we still don’t know why Penguin suddenly appears in Villa Hermosa. I think Jones is building up to why Penguin’s in Villa Hermosa very slowly, which may upset other readers.

Besides that, I personally love the change to retro art, but again, others might not enjoy what the creative team’s done with CATWOMAN up to this point. Now that another story arc’s ended, where do we go from here? What will happen to Selina while in captivity? How will Raina’s success in resurrecting her son affect her and the plot? What does Penguin want with the Reliquary? All this and more coming soon in CATWOMAN #9.

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