When I first heard that Catwoman would be getting her very own ongoing series as part of DC's New 52 initiative, I couldn't have been more excited. I remember thinking, 'at last, Catwoman gets her own comic book again.' I remember looking forward to seeing how DC would reinvent her character and return one of the most prominent female characters in the Batman Universe and at DC Comics to the forefront. What we got was a rather controversial first issue that started with Catwoman seen moving from rooftop to rooftop over Gotham, half clothed and ending with Catwoman and Batman in a very, well, intimate position. In context, a lot of it made sense. The case can be made that Catwoman, in general, has always been both very bold and very sexualized, and that these characteristics have always been facets of her character. This was not really the conflict I had with this series. The problem I saw was deeply embedded in the negligence and irresponsibility of her character, and her refusal to grow. It was something I felt hindered the book from being all that it could be.
In general, I always had a fondness for writer Judd Winick's work, particularly the character development that he cultivated in Red Hood's character. In fact, I would argue that it was not until Winick had gotten a hold of Jason Todd that the character actually became interesting -- and that's mainly because he really developed Jason's character and gave him a direction. Jason evolved, as we saw in his appearances prior to the start of the New 52, so it's unfortunate that we haven't seen a whole lot of that same brand of character development in CATWOMAN.== TEASER ==
CATWOMAN's fundamental flaw stems from the fact that she is has experienced a tremendous amount of grief and turmoil, witnessed her closest ally and only true friend shot to death as a result of her carelessness; and yet, she's shown very little remorse. Sure, she's been sad, but I mean true remorse; the kind that calls for action and change, and leads a character or an individual to look inside themselves and try to fix whatever it is they are doing wrong. Lola, Catwoman's fence, died within the first few issues of CATWOMAN, and it doesn't feel like the character has learned anything from it. She hasn't stopped being careless. She isn't more cautious with her own life and the lives of those around her, and I really think she should be. Proof of this can be seen in the last panel of the latest issue of CATWOMAN (#11) where Selina screws up royally be allowing Gotham Police Detective Alvarez and a group of prostitutes and junkies to be captured and taken by the series' most recent adversary.
We recently interviewed Ann Nocenti, who will be taking over writing responsibilities on CATWOMAN, about her plans for the character, what direction she plans to take the book, as well as what kind of character development we can expect. Nocenti revealed not only that she did not have a lot of experience writing Catwoman's character, but that she also hadn't read any Catwoman stories in the last ten years. She did, however, clue fans into her idea for the future of Catwoman by touching on the things "that make her tick," particularly in the upcoming September #0 issue.
She has an origin issue coming out, we're going to remind readers of why she ticks the way she ticks…so that when that comes back into play…I think I will probably deal a certain amount with what drives her to want the most glittery things she can find. What is the compulsion to be a master thief? Especially because sometimes she just clearly does it for kicks. It's not like those noir robbers that do it because they want he cash. With her it's got more to do with some inner turmoil -- she will never be happy no matter how many jewels she gets.
If you've been reading up on the series then you might recall that in CATWOMAN #11 we saw some of what "makes her tick" finally come to light. Catwoman revealed her innermost demons to a character name 'Spark,' who she had been teaming up with over the course of the last few issues. In this scene Selina bears her soul after Spark questions why she cares so much about "prostitutes and junkies." She replies that the police aren't doing anything to help them, and somebody has to help. The moment that followed explained why, and brings the reader back to the start of her series. She does what she does because of where she came from, and the amount of struggle, abandonment and pain she had to endure growing up.
You see, Selina too was taken, so she can relate. Of all the moments combined throughout this series, this might be the most powerful. It gives the reader a look deep inside the soul of Selina Kyle, who, for the majority of this series has seemed unremarkably vapid. It's a scene that shows us that the character does have some depth, and that there were things that happened to her that really, truly hurt her and impacted her in a way that would lead her to defend those she feels she can relate to. This was a great moment; and a great victory for any reader hoping to see the character develop -- but it still doesn't change the fact that Selina is still clueless and clumsy.
I understand the idea that to grow up and to mature you have to go through some serious stuff. You have to make mistakes in order to learn and to get better. I also think that if I were to lose someone really close to me, I think I would learn to be more careful with my life and the lives of others. Eleven issues in and it still doesn't feel like Catwoman has learned that lesson, and as a result it's hard for me to sympathize with a character who watched her best friend die as a result of her actions and irresponsibility, and not change. When we spoke to Ann Nocenti, we asked the writer if she planned on addressing Catwoman's reckless nature.
CV: We have seen her lose some very important people in her life, (Lola) die as a result of her recklessness. We haven't really seen her character in the last ten issues really grow and recognize that her recklessness is the root of so many of her problems. Is that something you're going to be addressing in your CATWOMAN run?
AN: Definitely. I think that's a good question. Lola was her fence, and now Gwen is her fence. It's also who you choose to associate with. It's not like Catwoman is out there befriending really stable, nice people. She's clearly attracted to people who live with a certain amount of risk. I mean, Lola and Gwen were both painted as very down-to-earth girls who just happened to do these heisting gigs for her. It's like, she also picks people who are already kind of teetering on a tightrope, even if their personalities don't manifest in the way hers does.
While Nocenti doesn't really answer the question of whether or not Catwoman will change her behavior and learn from her mistakes, she does acknowledge the fact that Catwoman attracts people into her life that like to play with fire. Here is hoping that the series takes a turn that will lead Catwoman to grow as a character, learn from her past mistakes, and pay homage to the people that died as a result of her reckless behavior (Lola). And it wouldn't hurt if Ms. Nocenti took into account some other great Catwoman characterizations like those we saw in Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's CATWOMAN: WHEN IN ROME and Darwyn Cooke's CATWOMAN: SELINA'S BIG SCORE. Those are two really amazing Catwoman stories we think she may want to read since, you know, she hasn't read Catwoman in ten years.