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Comic Book / Catwoman: When in Rome

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Catwoman: When in Rome (2004-2005), is a six issue miniseries, published by DC Comics, by the award-winning creative team of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. It was the third part of their popular Batman cycle, coming after The Long Halloween and during Dark Victory, chronicling the nine months Selina spent in Italy.

Many spoilers in summary ahead:

  • In Chapter 1, Catwoman is awoken by a Batman nightmare following the events of Long Halloween, Selina Kyle AKA Catwoman and Edward Nigma AKA The Riddler, travel to Rome to uncover the secrets surrounding Selina's parentage. When they arrive in Rome they meet up with Selina's contact, an excellent hitman known as "The Blond", who doesn't know about Selina's motives or her secret identity, that night Selina ventures the night in a makeshift Catwoman outfit, and pays a visit to Italian Capo Don Verinni, before she can even interrogate him , he dies from a Joker Juice laced wine and Catwoman's name soars to the top of the mafia's hit list.

  • In Chapter 2, Selina has a second Batman Nightmare. When she awakens, the house is ablaze and she has to jump out of the third story window completely naked. The three relocate to the Blond's yacht, where two more attempts on Selina's life, one by a sniper and one by Don Verinni's son shooting Catwoman with Mr. Freeze's SubZero gun.

  • In Chapter 3, after being freed from the block of ice, Catwoman breaks into the Vatican and steals the "Boss of all Bosses" ring, which gives control of the entire mafia over to the wearer, and is immediately knocked out by Supervillian the Cheetah.

  • In Chapter 4, Hallucinates again, fights, and almost gets killed by The Cheetah.

  • In chapter 5, Selina meets her possible mother Louisa Falcone, wife of Carmine Falcon, where she is disappointed, when Louisa states rather unconvincingly that she couldn't be her daughter. Catwoman hallucinates again, but she realizes five nightmares in five days is too much and realizes she's been hit with the scarecrow's fear toxin, by The Riddler.

  • In Chapter 6, Catwoman has her final showdown with The Riddler, The Cheetah, The Scarecrow, and the man with Mr. Freeze's gun. The Riddler explains how he has been using this trip as a plot to learn Batman's identity, secrets about Selina, have her pay his tab, and acquire the "Boss of all bosses" Ring. Selina defeats them and with the yacht ablaze is saved by "The Blond", who had been ordered to kill Selina, but instead kisses her, now knowing her identity. "The Blond" actually has some proof that Selina may be Louisa's daughter.

In the last scene, Selina is standing at the airport gate waiting for "The Blond" to join. The Riddler appears, holds a knife to Selina's throat and makes her give him the ring. Selina double-crosses him and actually gives him a fake ring laced with fear toxins. The Blond is killed for not taking out Selina, and Selina boards the plane.

The epilogue has Selina at Carmine Falcone's grave and explaining why she became Catwoman.

While not as critically acclaimed as the first two parts, it still has nothing but great reviews under its belt.

This comic provides examples of:

  • Accidental Kiss: At the end of chapter 4, Selina hallucinates and believes she's kissing Batman but it's actually The Riddler.
  • Amazonian Beauty: Catwoman is curvy and built (in more ways than one).
  • Art Shift:
    • Thanks to Dave Stewart When in Rome looks completely different than the other two series.
    • Also Selina looks significantly different than she did in the other two series.
  • Author Appeal: Or rather Artist Appeal, as Tim Sale wanted to draw Selina's current costume, but DC wouldn't let him as it'd mess with continuity, so they compromised. Hence, Selina losing her luggage in the first issue and sporting a black costume in the first two issues.
  • Badass Normal: Selina could be one of the female incarnates as she fights well against the super-powered Cheetah.
  • Berserk Button:
    • The Riddler better not touch Selina.
    • Don't call The Riddler Eddie.
  • Big Bad: The Riddler and Louisa Falcone.
  • Big "NO!": When Selina hallucinates Batman shooting her.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The bits of dialogue in Italian are rather bad.
  • Butt-Monkey: Double Subverted, It seems like The Riddler is this, then we learn he is behind all of Selina's problems and he seems like he is the Manipulative Bastard, but by his last appearance he retains his former Butt Monkey role.
  • Catchphrase: The Riddler's "Question and Answer".
  • Cat Girl: Catwoman and The Cheetah, obviously, though Cheetah is a bit more literal. This is lampshaded by Selina, who narrates that Cheetah "takes the cat thing way too seriously."
  • Clothing Damage: While attempting to escape from Don Verinni, a dog bites Selina in the ass and rips her suit, exposing her buttocks.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Selina's on par with Batman in this series. Like Selena strangling Cheetah with her own tail.
  • Continuity Nod: Pay attention you can spot countless references to The Long Halloween and Dark Victory.
  • Continuity Overlap: As noted earlier, the mini-series runs concurrently with the second half of Dark Victory. At one point, the Riddler leaves Italy to attend Two-Face's mock trial during Dark Victory #7 before returning (and thus explaining why the Riddler vanishes from Gotham after April Fools' Day).
  • Continuity Snarl:
    • At the time it was first published, anyway. While Infinite Crisis would fix it by restoring Wonder Woman's status as a founding member of the Justice League, that concluded in 2006. In 2004-2005, the status quo was still the same as it was post-Crisis: Wonder Woman only became active during the around the time of Legends. Even with the idea of Hippolyta going back in time to World War II during her tenure as Wonder Woman, there was a problem: the Cheetah, both clearly being the werecat Barbara Minerva version and Selina explicitly mentioning Cheetah's fought Wonder Woman before.note 
    • According to Mark Chiarello’s introduction in the collected edition, Selina's costume of all things nearly ended up nearly falling victim to this trope. Tim Sale loved Darwyn Cooke’s then-recent redesign from Ed Brubaker’s Catwoman run. He desperately wanted to use that design despite the fact that Selina wouldn’t canonically wear it until years later. Selina losing her luggage upon arriving in Rome and having to cobble together a temporary costume (that in-story coincidentally resembles Cooke’s design) was Loeb’s workaround to let Sale have his cake and eat it for an issue.
  • Determinator: Selina has a lot of setbacks, but she never gives up on her mission.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Catwoman dances with the guys but only really fights The Cheetah.
  • Downer Ending: Selina doesn't find out if the Falcones were her parents.
  • Failed a Spot Check: The Riddler hired The Cheetah to steal the ring the first time, and Selina palmed the ring. The second time he takes a fake ring not even thinking that Selina palmed the ring again.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Considering her potential father is dead, and her potential mother wanted her dead, Selina may not ever learn the truth.
  • Fanservice:
    • Selina gets completely naked multiple times, or she's in skimpy lingerie, but the majority of the time she's in her skintight Catwoman suit.
    • But on the non sexual side, there just as many callbacks to former Batman stories, such as The Long Halloween.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • Anyone who's read Dark Victory knows that Selina will not be able to conclusively prove that Carmine Falcone is her biological father.
    • Likewise, anyone who's read Batman: Hush knows that the Riddler won't discover Batman's secret identity until years later.
  • Foreshadowing: The Riddler asking Selina if she knew Batman's identity, him being in every one of her hallucinations, and him returning to Gotham all of a sudden.
  • Freudian Excuse: Since the Falcones didn't claim Selina, she began a life a crime to make a life that she would have had.
  • Genre Blindness: The Riddler doesn't realize that Selina is much smarter than he gives her credit for.
  • Gonk: The Riddler is drawn as even more of a scrawny, weaselly little twerp than usual.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Cheetah threatens to "slit [Catwoman] open from bottom to top".
  • Harmless Freezing: Subverted, she isn't hurt, but Selina sleeps for days afterwards.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Selina doesn't have her luggage on the first night so she buys a leather suit from a Roman shop.
  • Hartman Hips: Even more pronounced than Catwoman's bosom.
  • Heroic Build: One depiction of Selina where she is both muscular and curvy.
  • Human Popsicle: Happens to Selina when she is shot by Mr. Freeze's SubZero gun.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Riddler doesn't get away with anything.
  • MacGuffin:
    • The ring from the Vatican.
    • Also Louisa Falcone.
  • Male Gaze: Especially when Selina's naked in the pool.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Selina constantly calls The Riddler "Eddie" much to his dismay.
    Riddler: It's Edward, you bitch.
  • Manipulative Bastard: The Riddler exploits Selina's parental quest for his own gain. He planned every move from the start, just to learn Batman's identity.
  • Most Common Superpower: Catwoman's breasts had never been as big as they are in this series.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Catwoman has to jump out of her window naked into a pool because her room catches on fire, which then results in Naked People Trapped Outside. What's really impressive is that Selina, stripped of her Catwoman attire and all other proper clothing, manages to stay calm and in control.
  • Power Trio: Selina is Ego, The Riddler is Super Ego, and The Blond is Id.
  • Rogues Gallery Showcase:
    • Has appearances from Catwoman, The Riddler, Scarecrow, and Mr. Freeze's gun. In hallucinations, Batman. Joker, and Two-Face appear.
    • From Wonder Woman's Rouges, The Cheetah appears.
  • Running Gag: Selina calling The Riddler "Eddie", The Riddler walking in on Selina in the nude, Selina's hallucinations.
  • Slimeball: Riddler is particularly sleazy in this story, spending most of his spare time perving on Selina.
  • Spandex, Latex, or Leather: Catwoman's famous leather catsuit is practically a character unto itself.
  • Status Quo Is God: Selina doesn't know any more about her parents than when she started.
  • Strong as They Need to Be: Catwoman managing twice to overpower Cheetah, a superpowered Wonder Woman villain.
  • Vapor Wear: This series apparently wanted to make it canon that Selina doesn't wear a bra or panties underneath her Catwoman suit.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: The Blond asks where Catwoman stashed the ring. She grabs her chest and says "somewhere safe".
  • Will They or Won't They?: Selina and The Blond.
  • You Have Failed Me: Louisa Falcone orders her nephew, The Blond, dead because he falls in love with Selina and couldn't kill her.