$2.99, Color, 32 pgs.
Writer: Ann Nocenti
Artists: Rafa Sandoval, Jordi Tarragona
Every once in a while, I pick up a title that I normally don't read just to see if the publisher is providing a "new-reader friendly" experience. Unfortunately, Catwoman #21, while still a decent book, does not qualify.
I have not read Catwoman on any regular basis throughout her many incarnations, simply because I've never had any real interest in the character. Although I've checked out a few issues from previous series, it's just never held my attention long enough to commit to a regular monthly title. This issue is actually the first I've read since the current series premiered in the "New 52" DCU.
The issue does not offer any kind of recap or summary of the storyline for new readers. DC Comics' website says the story is "following the events of the Catwoman Annual," but does not provide much detail beyond that. However, it's fairly clear that Catwoman and The Penguin are in some kind of territory war over a section of Gotham City called "The Badlands." On one side is the Penguin and his army of henchmen, which also includes the super villain Volt. On the other side is Catwoman and a street gang called the Rat-Tails, who are trying to free themselves from the protection racket that the Penguin uses to keep the gang under his control.
While the issue has some exciting moments and plenty of action, Ann Nocenti's dialogue reads a little too much like her Daredevil run from the early 1990's. As for the art by Rafa Sandoval and Jordi Tarragona, I would have to agree with the comment made on the DC Comics website, which noted that the characters appeared to be walking around with their eyes closed. There does appear to be a lot of squinting going on, which may not be the best strategy when The Penguin is trying to blow up your entire neighborhood.
One of the determining factors of a comic book being "new-reader friendly" is whether or not that reader will return for the next issue. Unfortunately, this latest version of the character did not stoke my interest enough for me to pick up Catwoman #22.