The Replacements

by Will Pfeifer, David Lopez
(DC Comics, 2007)

Comic-book readers often must suffer through a "New Coke" phase in their favorite titles. Heroes as iconic as Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, Captain America, Green Arrow, Green Lantern and, as of this writing, Wonder Woman have been killed or otherwise disposed of while a younger, fresher and, almost certainly, inferior substitute takes their place. In most cases, the publisher eventually recognized the error and brought the classic version back to the fore.

Now it's Catwoman's turn and, as usual, it's probably a mistake.

In what will probably turn out to be a plotting catastrophe, writer Will Pfeifer decided it was time for Selina Kyle to get pregnant. (Although the father won't be revealed for a few issues, and not at all in this collection, they make it clear early on Bruce Wayne wasn't involved -- a decision that flouts Earth-2 tradition, where Bruce and Selina fathered baby Helena, who would eventually grow up to be the original Huntress. Of course, the company also decided recently to bring an out-of-continuity Batman story back into the fold, giving Bruce an unexpected adolescent son.) Anyway, with a baby on the way, Selina decides it's time to give up her roof-hopping and crook-kicking ways, and she passes the costume and whip on to an unlikely successor: Holly, former-prostitute-turned-lesbian sidekick.

A crash course in training with Selina and boxer-turned-vigilante Ted "Wildcat" Grant doesn't really prepare Holly for the job, however, and right out of the gate she runs afoul of several large problems. It's hard to imagine which is worse, the film-obsessed villain who wants to kill Catwoman or the tireless cop who wants to arrest her for murder.

Of course, it's not long before Selina is forced back into her costume (which, given her recent pregnancy, doesn't fit quite like it used to). And it's not long before her baby is put at risk because of her nocturnal outings -- and, let's be honest here, the sight of a maternally outraged Catwoman is a treat.

But New Coke never satisfied the thirst like Classic Coke does, and Holly as Catwoman is equally unsatisfying. She lacks both skill and motivation, and it appears her future must involve either an unrealistic upgrade in abilities or her constant use as a foil to bring Selina back into action and save her.

Either way, I'll sip the new formula grudgingly until DC brings the real deal back to the shelves.

by Tom Knapp
17 March 2007

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