If you listen to Panelology, you know that I adore Darwyn Cooke’s work. You might assume that I have consumed it all already, but I haven’t. There are a few titles that I have saved for a rainy day. Well, there’s an 80% chance of precipitation in Atlanta today; let’s talk about Catwoman.
(Yes, I know cats hate water. Just go with it.)
On its own*, Selina’s Big Score is a standalone heist story with a strong noir influence. Selina Kyle—currently avoiding the Catwoman moniker—returns to Gotham after a job-gone-wrong to put her life back together. For that, she needs money; so she pulls together a team to steal millions from the mob. That includes her former mentor-slash-lover, a master criminal known only as Stark.
Sketchy might be the best word to describe this book. Its narrative is split between characters’ perspectives; its plot provides only the moments you need to see. The lines are heavy, formed from dark spots, heavy lines, and even abstracted shapes. The comic’s form, with regard to both writing and art, is recognizably Cooke’s; but it is Cooke playing in a dingier sandbox, leaning as far as possible into leveraging space with only necessary detail. Moments of revelation about Selina’s history with Stark are not mere exposition, but add to a pervasive, tonal fear of betrayal and characterize a Selina who existed before Batman. It is a short story in graphic novel form—every panel and speech bubble matter.
So do I recommend Selina’s Big Score? If you want a Catwoman book worth reading, it's an easy book to suggest—the character’s publishing history is a minefield when it comes to solo titles, and this is safe ground. If you’re coming in as a Darwyn Cooke fan, expect something different than DC: The New Frontier, but give it a go. I have a tougher time recommending this solely as a heist book, because I feel like the form itself is used to play into a character drama about the fear of betrayal—but if that sounds like a cool use of the trope, then I say yes.
*It is worth mentioning that this story serves to bridge the gap between Catwoman’s and Selina Kyle’s deaths in a previous volume and 2002’s Catwoman series, on which Cooke collaborated with Ed Brubaker. You can read this without having read what comes before or after it, though; I haven’t—although I wouldn’t bet against me reading what comes next for a later entry here.
- Selina’s Big Score (OGN)
- Catwoman, Vol. 1: Trail of the Catwoman [Selina’s Big Score, Catwoman (2002) #1-9, backups from Detective Comics (1937) #759-762]
- Batman: Ego and Other Tails (Batman: Ego, Selina’s Big Score, material from Batman: Black and White and Solo)
Story and Art: Darwyn Cooke | Colors: Matt Hollingsworth