"Great Catwoman Stories," Part 1 (of 2) Author: Ricky Chruch (Follow @RICHARDCHURCH16)
Date: October 12, 2015
While gender diversity in comics has steadily been improving in recent years, there has always been one woman who has stood above the rest in fame and personality. For 75 years, Catwoman has proven to be quite the thorn in Batman’s side both legally and emotionally. She’s gained the status of an anti-heroine as she does some bad things in order to do some greater good (mostly though she just looks out for herself).
She’s also been the star of her own comic book series and feature film, though the latter proved to be a box office failure and is considered one of the worst comic book films of all time. Even with a failed film, Catwoman has still remained a very popular character with a wealth of stories. Here are nine stories from comics, film, animation and even video games in Catwoman’s vault you should check out. You may ask why nine stories and not ten, and, well, it seemed appropriate given cats and their nine lives.
BATMAN #1 “The Cat” (By Bob Kane and Bill Finger, 1940)
In the story that started it all, Catwoman was simply known as “The Cat,” a high profile cat burglar who robbed from the rich and enjoyed doing so. Batman and Robin were on the trail of The Cat after the thief stole The Missing Traver Necklace, a jewel worth half a million dollars. After setting a trap for The Cat, Batman and Robin surprisingly discovered the thief was in fact a woman. She attempted to seduce Batman, but he was steadfast in his dedication to justice. Even still, he may or may not have intentionally let her escape, setting in motion a back and forth relationship lasting 75 years.
Catwoman’s appearance has changed a lot over the years, but none more so than her first few appearances where her first costume was gold with a very life-like cat mask. It’s still very weird to see a cat’s head atop a woman’s body in those early stories. Thankfully her wardrobe evolved over the years and she no longer wears the cat mask, but her characterization, and infatuation with the Caped Crusader, has remained largely the same.
CATWOMAN: WHEN IN ROME (By Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, 2004)
Acting as a companion piece to the graphic novelsTHE LONG HALLOWEEN and DARK VICTORY, taking place concurrently during some of the latter story, WHEN IN ROME sees Catwoman going on a personal journey to Italy to answer questions regarding her family roots. Tagging along to help her is Edward Nygma, aka The Riddler.
WHEN IN ROME is an exciting globetrotting adventure for Catwoman. She works with and is targeted by old school mobsters, traverses the Italian landscape and robs a few people along the way. More than that, though, this is a deeply personal story for Catwoman as she tries to confirm the identity of her father, famous mobster Carmine “The Roman” Falcone. Her personal struggles show a vulnerable side rarely glimpsed before as she attempts to gain closure on this missing chapter of her life.
Another rather surprising factor in this story is the role Riddler plays, revealing he’s much more intelligent and dangerous than most people give him credit for.
BATMAN: HUSH (By Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee, 2002-2003)
Another story written by Jeph Loeb, BATMAN: HUSH saw Batman and Catwoman’s relationship deepen in ways that had not yet been explored before. The pair decided to start a real relationship during their joint investigation into a widening conspiracy that seemingly involved the entire rogues gallery and a new, unknown foe. Batman even displayed a level of trust he rarely shows by revealing his identity to her and taking her to the Batcave, including her more personally in his life. The story displays how well Catwoman understands the dark hero and his need for human connection. With the conspiracy only growing though, it becomes a question of whether or not their new relationship can survive it.
Depending on whom you ask, HUSH is either a defining Batman story or very overrated. Whatever your opinion is, Batman and Catwoman’s relationship was put under an intense microscope as Loeb deconstructed what it is that makes her so special to Batman. Along with that, Jim Lee’s artwork is nothing short of amazing. His artwork in Hush has already been made into numerous posters, from full-page spreads to even single panels. Lee’s depiction of Catwoman is definitely one of the best-looking the character has had in any medium.
BATMAN: HEART OF HUSH (By Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen, 2008-2009)
In the semi-sequel to HUSH, the title villain returns to Gotham City to exact revenge against Batman. To accomplish this, he targets his persona of Bruce Wayne to attack him very personally, going after those Bruce is close too. Though Batman warned his closest allies, there was one person he overlooked because he though Hush would never go there: Selina Kyle. Hush kidnapped Catwoman and, using his surgical skills and knowing Bruce’s feelings for her, removed her heart.
Much like its predecessor, HEART OF HUSH examines the relationship between Bruce and Selina have and the feelings they share for each other. It doesn’t hurt that the story was written by famed Batman legend Paul Dini, one of the architects of BATMAN: THE AMIMATED SERIES and the rest of the DC Animated Universe. He has a good handle on Batman, Catwoman, Hush and the rest of the cast appearing in this story. In addition to the spotlight it gives on Batman and Catwoman’s relationship, it also heightens Hush’s status among the rogues, arguably doing more for him than the story that introduced him.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (By Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan, David Goyer, 2012)
Though Catwoman’s portrayal in BATMAN RETURNS (1992) wasn’t exactly the real version of the character and her solo film was a financial and critical failure, the villainess did have an excellent characterization and portrayal in the finale of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. In the film Catwoman, who is only referred to by her real name, is a professional burglar looking for an escape as authorities are closing in on her. She’s sassy, intelligent and looks out mainly for herself, though she’s also not without some level of compassion for younger people who can’t defend themselves.
Anne Hathaway portrayed Selina Kyle and did a marvelous job playing the femme fatale. Her first scene in the film is one of her best as she subtly transforms from a meek, nervous waitress into the sly, quick-talking thief in a matter of seconds. Selina is used to fending for herself, doing whatever it takes to survive on the street. Her philosophy in life, which sums up her character perfectly, is “Once you do what you have to you can never do what you want to”, contrasting Bruce Wayne’s own drive to do what he has to do, yet lost everything he wanted to do. She then becomes an integral piece in Batman’s battle against Bane, helping him retake the city (though disregarding one or two of Batman’s rules). THE DARK KNIGHT RISES capped off Bruce’s career as Batman by having him escape with Selina to live the life they both wanted. Hathaway’s portrayal of Catwoman is definitely one of the best seen in any medium for giving an in-depth look into what makes her tick.