It was a pleasure to reread Darwyn Cooke’s Selina’s Big Score; I had forgotten what a good story it was. Selina’s world without Batman is sufficiently complex, and Cooke writes her so well, that is easy to follow one of the characters, Slam Bradley, the private detective, into “Slam Bradley: Trail of the Catwoman,” which takes place before and concurrently with Selina’s Big Score. Slam must have become a favorite character with DC readers, as I understand he continues appearing throughout the Catwoman stories. It’s easy to tell why: He’s hard-boiled, right out of Raymond Chandler, with guts, personal morality, and a soft spot for Catwoman, who has been presumed dead. The Mayor hires Slam to verify the deaths of both Catwoman and Selina Kyle (remember, the only ones who know her identity is us and Batman).
In the middle of Slam’s gumshoe work, he gets paid a visit from Batman, followed by one from Selina herself (where Selina’s Big Score dovetails with this serial). What follows next is “Anodyne,” where Selina struggles to come to grips with the Catwoman part of her personality, and with the help of Dr. Leslie Thompkins, she transforms into a do-gooding Catwoman, complete with new costume (how this all fits in with Catwoman: When in Rome is beyond me). There’s a surprise return from a villain in “Anodyne,” but more importantly, there’s Holly and Karon, Selina’s friends and allies. It goes without saying that the art is phenomenal—there’s something very ‘50s Pop Art, while it’s still being recognizably set in Noughties Gotham. Best of all, Selina shows compassion, something she’s always had for ladies of the night, but not necessarily for anyone else. “Trickle Down Theory” continues in this vein, though Selina soon learns that there can be unexpected consequences to her dabbling in detective work and crime-fighting. It also introduces a character who will be important in later dealings with Black Mask. “Disguises” is told from Holly’s point of view and involves corruption within the Gotham police force (so, nothing new!).
All in all, Trail of the Catwoman is a very strong start to this series, and a lot of extraordinary talent has gone into it. I definitely recommend it.
One more thing: much as I love Harley & Ivy, the art is very much in the style of the pin up, and although Catwoman and her friends are undeniably sexy, they never seem to be caught in exploitative poses in this volume, which I think is a plus!