ICv2 Stars: 4 (out of 5)
Posted by Brigid Alverson on April 29, 2019 @ 9:00 am CT
Publisher: DC Comics (DC Ink imprint)
Release Date: May 1, 2019
Creator(s): Lauren Myracle (writer), Isaac Goodhart (artist)
Format: 208 pgs., Full-Color, Trade Paperback
Age Rating: 13-17
ICv2 Rating: 4 Stars out of 5
Under the Moon, a new Catwoman origin story and the first entry in DC’s DC Ink young adult line, goes to some very dark places. Selina, who is 14 when the main action of the book occurs, has learned to live with her mother’s string of abusive boyfriends over the years. When she finds a kitten on the street, she finally has someone who returns her affection, until her mother’s latest boyfriend, an oversized bully with a sadistic streak, torments it, leading to its death. Distraught, Selina leaves home for good. She lives on the street for a while, shoplifting food and clean clothes, but eventually she joins a group of fellow misfits living in an old warehouse. One of them, Ojo, teaches her parkour; one is a computer genius who is planning a burglary; and one is a traumatized girl who cannot speak but who gradually forms a bond with Selina.
Batman does not appear at all in this graphic novel, although Bruce Wayne does. He’s an old friend, and a bit clueless, but Selina has deeper feelings for him, feelings that she constantly fights. Gotham City is portrayed as an ominous place, with gothic buildings, mean streets, and police blimps gliding silently overhead.
The pacing of the book could be better. Myracle spends a lot of time setting up Selina’s unhappy home life and her misfit status at school, then she crowds most of the action into the final third of the book. There’s a subplot about a killer dog that sort of weaves in and out, almost as an afterthought. Still, it’s an engaging story. Selina comes through as a real person, a defiant teen with a darker side. She steals candy and other items for friends and acquaintances, but sometimes she steals for no reason, and her determination to be independent isolates her from possible friends.
Goodhart’s art really makes this book sing. While his anatomy is a little off at times, the figures have a sense of motion that makes them glide along the page, and he avoids drowning the reader in detail. Colorist Jeremy Lawson also does a fantastic job: The book is mostly rendered in black and white with a deep blue tone, but the tone switches to purple for a few pages (to indicate fantasies and a flashback), and sound effects pop with a pale yellow tone. The coloring is subtle but works with the story and is never distracting.
While this book is rated for readers 13-17, it contains some disturbing scenes of abuse, as well as the death of the kitten, so some readers may find it upsetting. That said, this is a very readable graphic novel that stands well on its own and also fits comfortably into the existing Batman world. It’s a good choice for teens who are interested in superheroes and action but are turned off by the complicated continuity and tortured art style of existing series. With a smart heroine, plenty of action sequences, and a suspenseful plot, Under the Moon delivers the old-fashioned pleasures of comics in a package designed for today’s readers.