STORY: Judd Winick
ART: Guillem March
I’ve never been a huge Catwoman fan, not as a villain or as an anti-hero. But I understand the appeal and I respect what the character has done for feminism (or anti-feminism, depending on who you ask) in the pages of Batman books over the years. I hesitated to read Catwoman when relaunched under the ‘New 52’, mostly because I was already reading a bunch of Batman-related titles and didn’t want to overload myself on the Gotham Gloomies. I mean seriously, how many heroes can operate in a single city without running into each other on a regular basis? Apparently, at least eleven.
Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed Catwoman #9 because it wasn’t a straightforward “Night of the Owls” tie-in that just pits a Talon against Selena Kyle. Instead, the Talon in question is fleshed out to an appropriate length. Ephraim Newhouse was once an oddly duty-bound Talon whom the Court retired early (and naked) to atone for murdering British soldiers and losing his sacred knives. Now, the current Court promises Newhouse his honor restored if he assassinates the Penguin.
Simultaneously, Catwoman and Spark (her partner? Again, I haven’t read Catwoman, so I’m assuming their friends and they work together – JM) are waiting for Cobblepot to leave his bar so they can steal a dagger with an owl head on the handle. When the Talon shows up to ‘off’ the Penguin, Selena considers it an unfair fight and takes on the Talon with Spark close behind her.
After a bunch of fighting, Judd Winick gets down to the real meat of the story; Newhouse’s honor. The blade of concern for all of these characters was one of Newhouse’s lost daggers, of which he desperately wants back. Selena has the rest and after another round of fist-throwing, the Penguin finally blows out Newhouse’s brains. Catwoman leaves the corpse at the Batsignal for Bruce to pick up, but leaves Newhouse with his lost daggers as a sign of respect – and of good storytelling.
Much like Batwing and Detective Comics a few weeks ago, Birds of Prey #9 doesn’t bring much to the table for “Night of the Owls”. Sure, it’s got a little backstory for the ‘Talon of the Week’, but other than that, this issue’s villain could have been anybody else. What I’ve noticed so far is that “Night of the Owls” tie-ins are effective when they add more to the overall Court of Owls mythology. Unfortunately, the Birds of Prey simply get jammed into the foray with little reason. Hell, Black Canary still thinks Batman is ‘mythical’. Seriously? She’s a superhero in Gotham City and is not certain that Batman exists? Whatever.
This issue’s Talon has a handlebar moustache that connects to his mutton chops. It’s a very perplexing image, a major juxtaposition to the Talons trained in martial arts and the like. This man seems like he’s out of the Civil War, not only in appearance, but also in mannerisms and behavior towards women. Yep, the Birds get the only sexist Talon in the bunch so far because of course the Birds get the only sexist Talon in the bunch so far. A lot of Birds of Prey #9 feels forced, and that never makes for good reading.