Batman: One Bad Day - Catwoman #1 Review: Selina's Stylish, Sentimental Score

For over eighty years, Catwoman has been an enigma in the world of mainstream superhero comics. A fierce femme fatale with a heart of gold, Selina Kyle and the various other women who have held her mantle have skirted the line between hero and antihero with ease. This moral standing made the promise of her One Bad Day one-shot, the latest in a string of prestige standalone stories featuring Batman's rogues, uniquely compelling. As countless Catwoman comics have proven, it's not particularly difficult to make Selina a sympathetic character – but One Bad Day manages to be one of the best ever. Batman: One Bad Day – Catwoman is an immaculately-constructed, timeless tale that boils down so much of what makes Selina Kyle such a fascinating comics character.

Batman: One Bad Day – Catwoman follows Selina in one of her most personal heists yet, as she tries to reclaim a family heirloom that might be more significant than it appears. Even if Selina successfully steals the item, the truth and promise behind it will only grow more complicated.

As previously mentioned, the concept of humanizing Selina, much less the larger Batman rogues gallery, is nothing new. Years of solo comics and guest appearances have softened Selina's mission, and that arguably works in this one-shot's favor, as it isn't needing to move mountains to make her story relatable to casual readers. Instead, G. Willow Wilson's script revels in Selina's unique point of view, telling the story of a woman trying to survive (and maybe even thrive) in a world that is actively working against her. The end result is simple but endlessly effective – even Selina's family history, something that has been retread in comics time and time again, feels fresh in Wilson's story.

On top of that, Batman: One Bad Day: Catwoman feels revolutionary because it has fun with the One Bad Day publishing concept. The story is unabashedly a one-shot – a story with something to say, and intimate character development to produce, but no obligation or pretense beyond that. These pages give a hearty dose of characterization that has occasionally fallen to the wayside in the past few years of Catwoman, which have largely (and understandably) focused on throwing her from one larger-than-life scenario to the next. While there are still comic-booky antics in this issue—stylish outfits, real-world resonance, and dynamic action scenes—the main takeaway is Selina's own story. There are also some delightful nuggets of Selina and Bruce Wayne's dynamic scattered among the second half, the earnest presentation of which feels like an oasis after some of the recent Bat/Cat drama.

It can not be overstated how wonderful Jamie McKelvie's art is in Batman: One Bad Day – Catwoman, providing a gorgeous nuance to every visual that is on display. From a tiny but meaningful change in facial expression, to a fresh approach to Selina's now-iconic costume, to the kineticism of an action-packed fight scene, every element of the issue is rendered beautifully. McKelvie's colors are also incredible, bathing panels in masterful shadows of purple and gold. Clayton Cowles' lettering is versatile but perfectly-suited for what's in the story, adding an extra flourish that only makes Wilson's dialogue more engrossing.

Batman: One Bad Day – Catwoman easily proves the initiative's concept can work – but not by telling another grimdark, Killing Joke-esque tale. Instead, this one-shot applies a heartfelt and sentimental take to Selina Kyle's adventures, crafting a tale that doesn't revolutionize her character, but improves upon what's already there. The craft on display, from G. Willow Wilson's breezy script to Jamie McKelvie's perfect visuals to Clayton Cowles' seamless lettering, all culminates to showcase what mainstream superhero comics are capable of today. 

Published by DC Comics

On January 24, 2023

Written by G. Willow Wilson

Art by Jamie McKelvie

Colors by Jamie McKelvie

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Letters by Clayton Cowles

Cover by Jamie McKelvie