Catwoman Then And Now: How Much Has Changed?

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Posted by No_Name_ (17403 posts) - - Show Bio

When a character has existed for as long as Catwoman has, you would think that writers would have a grasp and a basic understanding of who she is, what she would sound like and what would make her tick; but that can't be further from the truth. You see, Catwoman is complicated. Very complicated. Not only has she had various origin stories, but sometimes not even she knows what she wants. Does she want Batman, or doesn't she? Does she want to steal, or doesn't she? Yet, that's part of her charm, isn't it? Her unpredictability is part of the character's appeal. And while Catwoman has evolved since she first appeared in the 1940's, she has undergone such dramatic changes to her origin and her identity, that it's difficult to determine who she is exactly. So what qualities make up the character of this complicated vixen? And is she, post 'New 52,' anything like she was before?

Catwoman was first introduced in BATMAN #1, printed in April of 1940. Her first appearance was a memorable one, and happened to coincide with Bruce Wayne's origin as Batman. Yet, that Catwoman is very different from the Catwoman we were introduced to twenty-five years ago in Frank Miller's BATMAN: YEAR ONE; and both those interpretations of Catwoman are entirely different from the most recent telling of her origin in CATWOMAN #0 by Ann Nocenti.

== TEASER ==
BATMAN: YEAR ONE

One of the most recognizable interpretations of the character appeared in Frank Miller's BATMAN: YEAR ONE. In this series Selina appeared as a girl who grew up on the streets and who, to an extent, became a product of her environment. She gets mixed up with the wrong people, falls into prostitution but she eventually redeems herself. There is a great moment in YEAR ONE where Selina stands up not only for herself, but also for Holly. This "Robin Hood" type of mentality is something that remains constant throughout much of Catwoman's character history. Who will stand up for the helpless? The ones that fall in the grey area that not even Batman will stand to protect? The first hint of this came in YEAR ONE when Selina comes to Holly's defense. This is a quality of her character that resurfaced later in DC's YEAR ONE ANNUAL (1993).

CATWOMAN #0 (1993)

Following Miller's YEAR ONE, DC did away with Selina's "life of prostitution" storyline and opted for a "cleaner" approach to the character. The publisher signed on Doug Moench to do away with the prostitution stuff and focus instead on a life of crime as a thief on the streets of Gotham. During her years as a teen, Catwoman was "brash and reckless" (something we saw a lot of, more recently, in Winnick's first twelve issues of CATWOMAN), stealing from the rich to keep for herself. She would later embark on a life of fighting crime; defending those less fortunate than herself. Remnants of what we saw in Miller's YEAR ONE resurfaced here in this series. But it was a creative team that came years later that would really dig their claws (pun intended) into Catwoman's psyche. The following creative team would later reinstate the prostitution angle to her character, but that would once again be undone when Ed Brubaker and Darwyn Cooke signed on to deliver Catwoman's ongoing series.

It was Brubaker that probably best identified and explained Selina's character. He wrote her as this intricate character who was both reckless, but still very much sure of herself and in control. She dedicated her life to helping people who fell into the "grey;" those unworthy to be defended by Batman. The prostitutes and the junkies. It was in this series that Catwoman dealt with a lot of serious issues -- some of them seemingly stripped straight from the headlines. In the second arc of her series, for example, Selina works to take out a gang that is using underprivileged children to smuggle drugs into Gotham City. Kids who fall under the radar, she finds, are her responsibility to take care of.

CATWOMAN v. 2 #5

It was in this series that Catwoman's moral code was really defined. She wasn't good, but she wasn't bad, either, and she had evolved from the reckless girl who would steal for kicks to a woman who understood that there are people who needed protection; people that the Gotham PD weren't really concerned with.

CATWOMAN: WHEN IN ROME #5

Following Brubaker's run on the character, Jeph Loeb took the helm in his mini-series. It was here that ties between Selina and the Falcone family were established, but not something that was really explored afterwards. Loeb and Tim Sale's CATWOMAN: WHEN IN ROME told of Selina's trip to Italy. There, she attempted to uncover her identity and her heritage. Yet, it seems any ties to the Falcone family have been completely done away with. In Ann Nocenti's retelling of Catwoman's story, Selina is not Italian, but Russian, and her origin as a protector of the less fortunate (who may or may not have dabbled in prostitution) has been completely rewritten. Now, she is an orphan girl who loves shiny things, was pushed off the roof of a building, and was licked back to life by a clan of stray cats. While before it seems we had this character that was grounded in reality, now we have a woman who might have magical cat powers? We don't really know yet. What we do know, however, is that this Selina is a lot less deep than the previous character. She is not only considerably less evolved, but she is also so much more shallow. Her motivations are seek out and find shiny things, whereas before it was 'help the helpless.' It's hard not to look back and feel like Selina has lost a lot of what made her character interesting.

CATWOMAN #0 (2012)

I think it's interesting that the character of Selina Kyle evolved considerably into a detective in her own right. It wasn't just Batman playing Robin Hood, it was Selina too. Only difference is, her moral code was a lot more lax than his. When Batman saw only black and white, Selina recognized that there was some gray area in the world; maybe that's why she is so important to his character. In a sense, she created a balance because she offered this alternative view of the world. The problem is, she simply doesn't feel the same. So, although we know who she used to be, we don't quite now who she is now. As for where she is going? The possibilities and infinite, but let's not forget that there already exists a lot of great comic book material to build from. And I'm not even counting Tim Burton's origin of Catwoman in Batman Returns.

What do you think of Catwoman then and now? Which interpretation of her character do you prefer? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

#1 Edited by whiteknight67 (42 posts) - - Show Bio

she is hot that is all I have to say

#2 Posted by FatFriar_16 (167 posts) - - Show Bio
#3 Posted by Grimoire (543 posts) - - Show Bio

The Catwoman I prefer is when she has a good sense of herself and what she has to or can do for herself and for others at times.

#4 Posted by SiycoBat (157 posts) - - Show Bio

All I can say is, Catwoman was beginning to get interesting in the new 52 until Ann Nocienti started being the writer. Bring back Judd Winick so he can re-do the Catwoman #0.

#5 Posted by CircularLogic (282 posts) - - Show Bio

Seems like Ann Nocenti has joined the ranks of DC authors who once had talent but now produce crap, right up there with Tom DeFalco and Scott Lobdell.

I liked the new 52 at the start, but it seemed that DC editorial got a little too big for their britches after it's initial success, and instead of continuing with it's policy of "most of these characters pasts are the same, but some have been tweaked" like it did the first 8 months, it's become "Hey, let's rewrite everything and make sure past continuity doesn't mean s***". The zero month was a great example of this.

Whatever, the DC books I follow, Batman, Demon Knights, Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing, Aquaman and Animal Man are still great, mostly because they know better than to screw with continuity haphazardly, except Wonder Woman, but that's been working well so far.

#6 Posted by thveej (203 posts) - - Show Bio

The New 52 butchered catwoman....... so all of Catwoman's back story and history was somehow magically thrown out of the window? (while most other aspects of Batman's 'life and extended family pretty much stayed the same with some minor twicks). Some of the changes, like her long relationship with Batman/Bruce being wiped out is at least somewhat rational in the context of new stories being told, but giving her the Batman Returns origin!?!?! Gimme a break (and I LOVE Batman Returns! specially Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman). I'm still hopeful that they will backtrack on some of these changes or at least incorporate more of her history as new issues come out.

I think this adds up my thoughts perfectly:

"Selina is not Italian, but Russian, and her origin as a protector of the less fortunate (who may or may not have dabbled in prostitution) has been completely rewritten. Now, she is an orphan girl who loves shiny things, was pushed off the roof of a building, and was licked back to life by a clan of stray cats. While before it seems we had this character that was grounded in reality, now we have a woman who might have magical cat powers?"

#7 Posted by Cavemold (1682 posts) - - Show Bio

I liked the prositute theif angle Frank Miller had. I liked her in Long Hollween as well. Hush showed a loving but sexy side of her. The 52 origin and book I don't consider to be her at all. It's non exiestent.

#8 Posted by arnoldoaad (1007 posts) - - Show Bio

I always loved the idea that she was Falcone's Daughter, it feels right with everything that was done with the character between Batman Year One and TLH/DV and its important cause Falcone was an important person in Year one and pretty much the Batman mythos

now she is a mess, the daughter of some russian dude and has a ridiculous origin

#9 Posted by Reignmaker (2235 posts) - - Show Bio

I really wish that they'd make Catwoman more of a villain, like she was originally. I mean, she's joining the JLA again for cripes sakes.

#10 Posted by TitanTempest (347 posts) - - Show Bio

Im hoping the Zero issue was all a Dream or something, maybe Head Trauma..... Yeah, thats it, it was all head trauma...... WHO AM I FOOLING!!!!! AND WHY WOULD THEY DO THIS!!!!!!. I dont mind a mystical origin, but seriously this is so lame, wasnt as bad in the movie, but in the comic it was horrible :- /

#11 Posted by SmashBrawler (5731 posts) - - Show Bio

What a joke.

#12 Posted by Mandrewgora (296 posts) - - Show Bio

I loved Catwoman, but this new 52 thing is not what her character needed. I'm torn between still buying the issues to support the character or to stop getting them for how bad it all is. Nice article btw.

#13 Posted by ccraft (5259 posts) - - Show Bio

I'll always like catwoman! Great character, and very sexy!

Online
#14 Posted by Olpus (5 posts) - - Show Bio

I really like the way she is in New 52, at first it's a little odd because it's kind of a different Catwoman, but the series is evolving for good...at least thats what I think and expect

#15 Posted by ScarlettLynn (160 posts) - - Show Bio

Catwoman's prior series was the very first title I added when I made my first pull list. I loathe what Nocenti did in this latest issue #0 and I've dropped the series from my pull list while she's writing it. It's disappointing.

#16 Posted by Inverno (13219 posts) - - Show Bio

Hey guys it could have been a lot worse. They could have used that terrible cover...

#17 Posted by ReadItNow (154 posts) - - Show Bio

Other than the zero issue. I enjoyed the new 52 Catwoman . The first issue was a bold move of the batman relationship.... I know they can,t go to the well too much with Batman but if they do, they should do it hot and heavy like they did in issue one.

#18 Posted by Mercy_ (92695 posts) - - Show Bio
Now, she is an orphan girl who loves shiny things, was pushed off the roof of a building, and was licked back to life by a clan of stray cats. While before it seems we had this character that was grounded in reality, now we have a woman who might have magical cat powers?

Best summation of DCnU Selina I've seen so far.

This article makes me painfully nostalgic for the real Catwoman :(

@Mandrewgora said:

I'm torn between still buying the issues to support the character or to stop getting them for how bad it all is. Nice article btw.

I know this feel well. Drop the book if you like the character and don't like what they're doing with her. The only way that comic book companies (or at least/especially the Big Two) monitor what the fans think is through book sales. That's why even though we bemoan events on the internet, they pump them out continuously - because people will always buy them. So if they're putting out a book that you dislike or does a disservice to a character you love, show the company that you think that and drop the book.

Moderator
#19 Posted by bsavelli (57 posts) - - Show Bio

Sexism has always seemed to be around when the topic is comic books, and Selina Kyle seems to be the one who most suffers from it. I've given up on Catwoman right on the first issues of the New 52 run. To see a character with such great potential, and that finally seemed to be taking off, be reduced to a simple burglar with a (extremely forced) crush for Batman was just... lame, and sexist. Although there were some moments where she did show some strength of character (like when Lola died or when she kicked that guy's ass in the bathroom), she seemed very explosive and selfish in most of her actions, and that signifies a great regression of her character. It's about time creators realize nobody cares about how big the boobs are or how much one can bend her spine without breaking it. It is and has always been about their actions and your ability to identify with them, and for that, we need consistent stories

#20 Posted by LemmyCaution (28 posts) - - Show Bio

One of the sticking points for the Catwoman #0 issue on the Podcast seemed to be the scene where the cats "lick her back to life." I never really had a problem with this, even in Batman II. I guess it's because I never thought she had died, only nearly died. Then went a little crazy after the cats "revived" her. I don't think the cats are magic. Well, that's my two sense on just that one part of the origin. I could see how the other changes could be bothersome. Then again, maybe I am biased. Batman II is my favorite of all the Batman movies (even though it has Michael Keaton in it).

#21 Posted by MisterKetch (253 posts) - - Show Bio

Excellent article I feel like you could have gone further into her character though, maybe brought up her killing Black Mask and then her struggles trying to be a good mother. But definately made some good points regarding where she fits into the world, unlike a lot of the bat allies I always felt Selina stood out on her own, she was dealing with the scraps, the leftovers that batman and the others don't have time for.

The Zero issue made me very nervous, even more so that the same writer who is responsible for the Green Arrow train wreck is now in charge of my favorite DC character.

#22 Posted by pspin (891 posts) - - Show Bio

that Zero issue origin, while not the best, at least brings a new angle that could be interesting. It will either be really good or really bad.

#23 Posted by No_Name_ (17403 posts) - - Show Bio

@MisterKetch said:

Excellent article I feel like you could have gone further into her character though, maybe brought up her killing Black Mask and then her struggles trying to be a good mother.

I definitely agree. There was a lot I wanted to touch on but didn't because I wanted to keep it concise and focused. Those are two really big points though.

#24 Posted by x_29 (2274 posts) - - Show Bio

As soon as i saw the title, i knew babs wrote the article. Catwoman ftw! Except the Halley Berry version.

#25 Posted by monitor_earthprime (82 posts) - - Show Bio

Yet another reason I stopped getting the main DC titles. When they included that stupid Meow-to-Mouth resucation and now Catwoman is the awful Batman Returns/Haley Berry Catwoman that flopped at the movies.

#26 Posted by Darkmount1 (1276 posts) - - Show Bio

Funny Sara mentioned the "Batman Returns" origin--because it looks like Nocenti lifted a bit of that for the Zero issue.

#27 Posted by No_Name_ (17403 posts) - - Show Bio

@Darkmount1 said:

Funny Sara mentioned the "Batman Returns" origin--because it looks like Nocenti lifted a bit of that for the Zero issue.

Watch the scene in Batman Returns and then re-read Nocenti's zero issue. It is almost word for word the same. It is frame by frame the scene in Batman Returns.

#28 Posted by Darkmount1 (1276 posts) - - Show Bio

@Babs: I know how that scene goes--I've seen the movie two times.

#29 Posted by FoxxFireArt (3554 posts) - - Show Bio

Well, anyone who's looked at my blog in the past few weeks knows that this is a subject I've been passionate about. It's a joy to read more on the subject.

I like Franky Miller's YEAR ONE version because she was brash, complicated, and was a dark reflection of Bruce's story. That might even be why Miller added her into the origin story of Batman. She wasn't the stereotype prostitute character. However, Mindy Newell came in on HER SISTER'S KEEPER and artificially grafted all those stereotypes onto that story.

I think having Selina grow up and be a member of the darker side of Gotham is what gives her a connection and motivation to help that part of the community. I really like that line that Miller wrote in the scene that was used in the article. The thing about men that she hated is becasue she never met one.. It reminds me of a great line John Wayne says in the movie MCLINTOCK.

" You have to be a man before you can be a gentleman; "

That scene Nocenti made is just insulting to Selina as a character. I know that could go for a lot of scenes she made, so let me elaborate. It's just after that journalist humiliated her at the club. She goes directly from that to frantically looking for any house to steal from. She's like an addict in need of a fix. She breaks into some random house and clutches the first set of pearls to her face, and crying for no apparent reason as she yells "Mine!".

What if they were to make Selina into the Irene Adler of DC? A lady detective who works outside the law and deals with the "less desirables" that fall through the cracks. Batman's busy with the super criminals, and he can't handle ever mystery and crime in the city. You need to give a reason why she's so protective of those people.

Excellent work here, Sara. I always enjoy your editorials. Hope you and Tony have a safe and fun trip for the NYCC.

I'm a fan of Catwoman, but you obviously know far, far more than I do about her rather convoluted history - histories. I notice a theme. It seems every time they try and "clean up " her origin. They tend to make things aimless.

#30 Posted by InnerVenom123 (29500 posts) - - Show Bio

Yeah, Selina got f**ked over bad in the DCnU...

#31 Edited by cosmo111687 (1489 posts) - - Show Bio

Pre-52 DC Universe was just much better than New 52; better character development, richer worlds, more interesting character and team dynamics. And I felt like it was just getting better and better with no end in sight...until the relaunch. Granted, I love Flashpoint, Swamp Thing, Animal Man, and a few of the redesigns. And I'm glad that the Relaunch has boosted DC's sales. But so many of the best stories from DC's history have been lost; and sadly (especially for me since my love of Catwoman and Batman got me into comics in the first place) Catwoman was just one of the casualties. I hope that they find a creative team in the future that can do Catwoman justice and make her into the woman she was before the relaunch - occasionally heroic, always complicated, and willing to stick her neck out for those less fortunate.

#32 Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus (6885 posts) - - Show Bio

Catwoman truly is one of those characters that I enjoy seeing a redefinition of no matter how she changes. I like her pre-Flashpoint and even enjoy her New 52...but its not Earth 0's Catwoman that intrigues me the most...its this one...

I wanna get to know this one more, even if she is dead :/

#33 Posted by jaytiz27 (68 posts) - - Show Bio

I just finished reading the tpb batman ego and other tails by Darwin Cooke and it had a really nice 3 part heist story in it, probably my favourite cat woman i have read so far. What should I read next does everyone think?

#34 Posted by Outside_85 (8977 posts) - - Show Bio

Like other things...Catwoman is a casualty of Flashpoint.

#35 Posted by lorex (954 posts) - - Show Bio

I like Catwoman but I have never really thought of her as a hero. She reminds me of a character in pulpy spy novels that changes sides as the situation unfolds to her advantage.

#36 Posted by SylentEcho (58 posts) - - Show Bio

Catwoman has lost most of her appeal to me in The New 52.

Secondly, if a person falls out of a window and hits the ground, cats wouldn't lick that person or even try to help. They'd just run away. Dogs would stand around, lick the person a little bit and whimper and maybe even try to get help because they'd kind of know what happened.

#37 Posted by Eyz (3095 posts) - - Show Bio

@cosmo111687 said:

Pre-52 DC Universe was just much better than New 52; better character development, richer worlds, more interesting character and team dynamics. And I felt like it was just getting better and better with no end in sight...until the relaunch. Granted, I love Flashpoint, Swamp Thing, Animal Man, and a few of the redesigns. And I'm glad that the Relaunch has boosted DC's sales. But so many of the best stories from DC's history have been lost; and sadly (especially for me since my love of Catwoman and Batman got me into comics in the first place) Catwoman was just one of the casualties. I hope that they find a creative team in the future that can do Catwoman justice and make her into the woman she was before the relaunch - occasionally heroic, always complicated, and willing to stick her neck out for those less fortunate.

#38 Edited by lifeboy (1675 posts) - - Show Bio

i like her collecting shiny things. f the downtroden. i want a comic of a thief who is out for her self. it almost such a left field idea, iits brilliant literature.

#39 Posted by Katok (1 posts) - - Show Bio

I really love catwoman, she's my favourite character. But last issue is awful!

#40 Posted by KZR (487 posts) - - Show Bio

Old is Gold. That's all I'm gonna say.

#41 Posted by Abirzenith (138 posts) - - Show Bio

Good read and she's one hot cat  ;) ! 

#42 Posted by RedQueen (1171 posts) - - Show Bio

I really don't agree with the "new" direction they're taking her character. As you put it; they've taken a character who was grounded and believable and changed her to be the opposite. She's become a caricature. Never really liked the Batman Returns/Catwoman origin either.

#43 Posted by knighthood (1693 posts) - - Show Bio

I prefer her as a confident independent individual that has a soft spot for the underbelly of society that no one seems to care about.

Also had a great point in his post.

A scene that caught my eye that exposes Nocenti's complete lack of understanding of Selina was when she's invited to a club and tries to sell herself as a pre-med student, but the handsome, young journalist calls her out on her lie saying that no doctor would have such dirty hands. In this scene, she then runs off crying. The Selina that I know wouldn't run off in tears like some heartbroken, high school girl.

I understand DC's desire to soften Selina's sexuality, but I feel Catwoman was always a strong confident sexual character. I will continue to pick up this book, but I want to see Nocenti off this book ASAP.

#44 Posted by fodigg (6146 posts) - - Show Bio

I prefer the ally of the bat/avenging anti-hero catwoman:

#45 Posted by Strafe Prower (11887 posts) - - Show Bio

RIP Catwoman

#46 Edited by sj_esposito (457 posts) - - Show Bio

Great article. It's sad that one of DC's most complex and interesting characters has been reduced to a total cliche with awful writing. I guess we should have saw that terrible origin coming when Nocenti told CV this:

You know I am not that versed in the last ten years of comics. I mean I am sure I've read some Catwoman stories in the past, but I am really not versed in her individual runs especially because I've been a Marvel girl throughout most of my career. DC is like a whole new world for me and it's an exciting new whorld. The new 52 thing I think is just terrific. This idea that you can…all that history is gone, but I feel like it's still in the DNA. Everything Catwoman has ever done is still in her even though she doesn't have any of that history. So I think it's a good way to take the characters back to their original conflict that is inside them.

It should come as no surprise that Nocenti ripped off the ending from the film, because she obviously didn't care to do any research into who Selina Kyle really is (or was... I guess).

And, you know, these types of articles can be written about a lot of characters in DC's stable--it's not a small problem with the New 52, but almost a systemic one.

#47 Posted by queenfrost_ (2499 posts) - - Show Bio

@bsavelli said:

Sexism has always seemed to be around when the topic is comic books, and Selina Kyle seems to be the one who most suffers from it. I've given up on Catwoman right on the first issues of the New 52 run. To see a character with such great potential, and that finally seemed to be taking off, be reduced to a simple burglar with a (extremely forced) crush for Batman was just... lame, and sexist. Although there were some moments where she did show some strength of character (like when Lola died or when she kicked that guy's ass in the bathroom), she seemed very explosive and selfish in most of her actions, and that signifies a great regression of her character. It's about time creators realize nobody cares about how big the boobs are or how much one can bend her spine without breaking it. It is and has always been about their actions and your ability to identify with them, and for that, we need consistent stories

This ^ After years and years of Catwoman's origin being re-told, we finally had one that wasn't outright sexist (ahem...miller) and actually quite deep (the burglar who helped the helpless story)! But now, she's gone back to being desperate for Batman's 'D' and being licked back to life by cats? Lol done.

#48 Posted by jesusdisciple001 (546 posts) - - Show Bio

@bsavelli said:

Sexism has always seemed to be around when the topic is comic books, and Selina Kyle seems to be the one who most suffers from it. I've given up on Catwoman right on the first issues of the New 52 run. To see a character with such great potential, and that finally seemed to be taking off, be reduced to a simple burglar with a (extremely forced) crush for Batman was just... lame, and sexist. Although there were some moments where she did show some strength of character (like when Lola died or when she kicked that guy's ass in the bathroom), she seemed very explosive and selfish in most of her actions, and that signifies a great regression of her character. It's about time creators realize nobody cares about how big the boobs are or how much one can bend her spine without breaking it. It is and has always been about their actions and your ability to identify with them, and for that, we need consistent stories

tanx

#49 Edited by ticklefist (32 posts) - - Show Bio

I've enjoyed every interpretation of Catwoman up until the new 52, give or take a few hitches like Bronwyn Carlton. I am looking forward to Geoff Johns' take on her with cautious optimism.

#50 Posted by Billy Batson (58021 posts) - - Show Bio

@Strafe Prower said:

RIP Catwoman

You know what they say about comic characters' deaths :-p
BB

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