Writer and artist: Cliff Chiang
DC Comics, 21 October 2021
It seems to me that modern-day DC Comics is obsessed with dystopian and post-apocalyptic versions of its own characters and series, to the point that they no longer feel unique, and they’re more or less the expected thing to do with a character. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the concept of gloomy, futuristic versions of established characters is a bad idea in and of itself, but it certainly feels like these kinds of stories are overstaying their welcome a bit, especially within the Black Label imprint. It doesn’t help that most of these feel very uninspired and derivative, like Batman: Last Knight on Earth or The Dark Knight III.
And in case this was not obvious enough, the other kind of story that Black Label have beating its readers to death with are Batman-related storylines. Out of the 26 finished Black Label titles, 14 are somehow related to the bat, and 5 more are in publication at the moment. While some of them, like Harleen, stand out as being especially deep, interesting or creative, the vast majority of them fail to capitalize on the more “mature” tone Black Label is known for and simply retell The Dark Knight Returns in less inspired ways or insist on telling stories that could’ve easily been limited series published under the regular DC imprint.
This preface is important to understand why Catwoman: Lonely City stands out between these titles that seem to be treading the same ground over and over again. Because, under any other circumstance, this book would not be interesting to me at all, as it mixes the two things that I most despise about Black Label at the moment: a dystopian story, and a Batman-adjacent story. It’s because how uniquely the story works with these concepts that it manages to shine, to rise up between a sea of mediocrity and repetitiveness to tell its own story that, indeed, manages to be as mature as the Black Label imprint initially promised.