There have been no shortage of Catwoman tales over the years, but despite this plethora of Selina Kyle interpretations, Catwoman: Soulstealer adapted from the novel by author Sarah J. Maas finds a fresh take on the character. Writer Louise Simonson, artists Samantha Dodge, Carl Potts, Brett Ryans, colorist Shari Chankhamma, and letterer Saida Temofonte do a magnificent job of adapting the novel to comics and adding a unique flair all their own. Soulstealer delivers a Catwoman story that features all of the character's hallmarks but is never overly familiar, twisting characters and elements just enough to forge its own path, and as a result, it's a must-read for any Catwoman fan.
Soulstealer introduces some of its unique choices right from the get-go. In this version, Selina is the older sister of Maggie, who has Cystic Fibrosis, and Selina does whatever she can to make her life better, including keeping their deadbeat mother away as best she can. That means taking on work in an underground fighting ring to help pay for treatment and medical bills, but then things change completely when Selina meets Talia.
Yep, it's that Talia, and this is really where the comic starts to separate itself from other Selina Kyle stories. Selina returns to a Batman-less Gotham, and while Batwing is a major part of the story, he doesn't consume the narrative like Bruce Wayne likely would. It's always Selina guiding and shaping the narrative, and Luke Fox has a significant part to play in it, as do fan favorites like Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn.
Again though, these familiar characters never overwhelm the story. Instead, they add their own unique flavors to the mix, and this is especially true of Luke. Soulstealer examines his backstory and the effects his past still has on him in a way few others have, and I found myself looking to read more Batwing stories like this one as soon as I finished this.
Those character stories only enhance the core mysteries at the center of this story, which strictly revolve around Selina. Why is she back in Gotham? What happened to her sister? Why is the League of Assassins after her? On the way to those answers, we get action-packed heists and battles between Catwoman and Batwing, but it's actually the parts between those fights that stand out most.
Maas and Simonson know how to craft immersive dialogue, and it can be found throughout the entire story, especially when it's Selina and Luke verbally sparring. They constantly challenge each other's assumptions, and it's a joy to see them interact when they have a bit more context as to what the other person is experiencing. Their interactions are messy at times, but that's also why they feel natural and human, and every step in their friendship reads as being organic and earned. Seriously, when you could be just fine watching them eat pizza and converse as opposed to starting a superhero fight, you know you have something special.
The comic's artwork delivers as well, nailing the tone and aesthetic of a noir thriller but keeping the energy up with small splashes of yellow and the purple and blue of these costumes. When a fight does break out, the team knows how to make Catwoman's combat look effortless and graceful, but the up-close fights have a welcome edge of brutality to them keeping things balanced.
I've read some great Catwoman stories, and I can safely say that Soulstealer is in that elite club. It reworks the character into something fresh and exciting while keeping her soul intact, and finds a way to introduce some welcome depth to Luke Fox along the way. Catwoman: Soulstealer is definitely worth your time, and who knows, it might just steal your heart.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Written by Sarah J. Maas
Adapted by Louise Simonson
Art by Samantha Dodge with Carl Potts and Brett Ryans0comments
Colors by Shari Chankhamma
Letters by Saida Temofonte