Up until this point in "Night of the Owls" storyline, we've seen a familiar pattern. If it's not a book that solely stars Batman, it involves an agent or ally of Batman getting tapped to take down one of the Talons that's heading into Gotham with a specific target in mind. I think that's why "Catwoman" #9 immediately grabbed my attention, courtesy Judd Winick and Guillem March; the book plunges its main character through a slightly different method.
It makes sense, when you think about it. These days, Catwoman's not exactly a close ally of Batman's, so having her stumble into a Talon attack feels more much believable. And as Catwoman, Spark and the Penguin tussle with the Talon, it's fun in that no one's doing this to save an important member of Gotham's elite. Instead, it's as much a scramble for survival as it is for the item that both Catwoman and the Talon want.
Having not read the title since the first issue, I felt like Winick kept new readers in the loop here. Sure, there are some bits that might take a little bit of time to figure out -- like who Catwoman's new sidekick Spark is -- but ultimately it's easy to follow and it flows well. Catwoman's voice in general also feels like it sounds right; Winick is keeping that balance between thief and rogue with just the right mix of each.
March's art also feels a bit more toned down since "Catwoman" debuted. Sure, there's still some T&A on display; her outfit is still unzipped a great deal around the breast region and the cover gives us a classic "brokeback" pose where we manage to see both boob and butt at the same time. I love how he draws the Owls, though; the mask looks haunting and creepy, and the extended arms brings old-school preachers to mind. Once the Talon attacks, March's art is energetic and explosive; its figure bursting through the doors has real energy, and once it's perched on top of the desk looking down at the Penguin we end up with a figure that looks the most birdlike that we've seen yet.
"Catwoman" #9 has some little glitches here and there -- a typo where Cobblepot is called Cobblebot, and a slightly unsatisfying stop to the Talon in general -- but this does feel light years away from "Catwoman" #1 back in the fall. I'm tentatively prepared to look at next month's issue, because it feels like some of the larger problems have been addressed. For that alone, I'll declare this a victory.