Catwoman and Batgirl meet for the first time in this cheeky tale with great art from Kevin Maguire. When I first began reading comics, back in the early nineties, I started with Batman, mainly because of Tim Burton's 1989 film which made me want to go back to the source material and get a Batman fix on a regular basis.
After reading batman and Detective Comics for a while, I began to expand into reading Superman, Spider-man and a slew of other Marvel and DC characters and I realized something about Batman Comics; the artwork on the monthly books did not compare well to other comics on the shelf. At that time, Batman was drawn by Jim Aparo, whose work by then had grown stagnant and rigid under Mike DeCarlo's heavy inking, while Detective Comics was illustrated in the dynamic but not very detailed pencil strokes of Norm Breyfogle. My point of explaining all this is that I began to make a list in my head of artist I would like to see handle the Dark Knight, and one of the names at the top of the list was Kevin Maguire, the artist of the humourous version of the Justice League.
Almost 20 years later I have my wish, and this tale of Batgirl and Catwoman struggling over a certain incriminating diary stolen from Commissioner Gordon suits the artist's talents very well. His knack for drawing facial expressions (as well as the female form) are a perfect fit for this cheeky story, and while I do not appreciate cheesecake in my Batman stories, the simplicity and elegance of the artwork make up for the less than serious tone.
As for Fabien Nicieza's writing; I was a little concerned when I heard he was providing the script. I have found much of his writing to be confusing and breathlessly paced to a fault in some cases. But he does well here, letting the story breath and the action unfold over five issues, and to his credit, allowing the art to do most of the talking. I'd like to point out his strong use of the Joker, who's brief cameo presented a more sinister Joker than other writers manage in a 6 issue mini series.
I would point out one small continuity gaff here though, which is that Batman, Batgirl and way too many mobsters know Catwoman's secret identity, something Batman finds out years later after the Knightfall storyline.
This book reprints the forth story arc from the Batman:Confidential monthly series, and gives us another strong entry after the equally good "Batman: the Wrath", for much the same reasons. The artwork is strong, the writing is crisp, and the editors chose wisely to avoid Batman's early years, which have been overloaded with retro-fitted stories or retelling of encounters with Batman's classic villains. Setting this story in the Dick Grayson years as Robin is refreshing since very few modern Batman tales are told in this era. This arc is a good way to make amends for the disappointing Batman vs. Lex Luther tale, "Rules of Engagement", or the awful Batman Vs. Joker: Round 1 (version 3.0) story, "Lovers and madmen".
More like this please, and definitely more form Kevin Maguire.