Shell's guide to... Catwoman

I have decided to start a new series on my blog entitled 'Shell's guide to...' in which I give you a little guide to certain comic book characters. I am starting with DC comics as I tend to prefer and read more of their stuff.  My first guide to is about my favourite comic book character: Catwoman!

1. Selina Kyle a.k.a Catwoman was one of DC's original comic book characters. She made her first appearance in Batman #1 in 1942- introduced as 'the cat'. Back then she was a mysterious jewel thief.

2. Over the years Catwoman and Batman have had a complicated relationship. A combination of antagonistic and attraction. Even back in that first issue it seems Batman lets Catwoman get away.

3. Over the next few decades Catwoman has some erratic storylines. At one point she reveals she was a flight attendant who after suffering from amnesia turns to crime. Later she claims this was a lie to get Batman to let her off the hook. She also spends a few years reformed working alongside Batman. 

4. In the 1970s DC introduced Earth 2 storylines, which took place in a parallel universe. In those stories Selina and Bruce Wayne (Batman) got married and had a daughter Helena Wayne who later became The Huntress.

5. Like most comic book characters Selina has had a number of different origin stories to explain how she became Catwoman. The first one featured her escaping an abusive husband and stealing her jewellery back. This leads her to become a cat burglar after enjoying the experience. 

6. In 1987 Frank Millers Batman Year One rewrote the Batman origin story and featured Selina as a dominatrix living in the red light district (of course- it's Frank Miller!). She is inspired after seeing Batman at work and makes a cat costume "If a bat, why not a cat?".

7. This Catwoman is very protective of the prostitutes of Gotham's east End, particularly a young woman called Holly whom she takes under her wing, and helps to overcome her drug addiction. Selina steals Robin Hood style in order to help the poor of the East End, as well as protecting them the best she can.

8. Selina's childhood is also a big part of her backstory. Her alcoholic father beat and abused her mother. They both died when she was young and she was sent to an orphanage. Depending on the origin she also has a sister called Magdalena who became a nun. 

9. Recent comics tell the story of Selina being bullied and alone in the orphanage with only stray cats for company. Catwoman: Election Night depicts Selina running away after her cats clawed and attacked a bully in her defence. 

10. Selina grew up on the streets of Gotham and used her wits to get by. Her alter ego Catwoman eventually made her rich and she lives in luxury although she never stops looking after the women of the East End.

11. Catwoman is known for her high intellect and gymnast skills which make her a great burglar. She is also a skilled fighter and was trained by a boxer. She is fiercely independent and tends to prefer to work alone although she has been known to team up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn (see Gotham City Sirens), she often works with Batman, and also Batgirl and the Birds of Prey. She is also good friends with Dr Leslie Thompkins who patches Selina up and helps the women of the East End at her free clinic. 

12. Batman is one of the few people to know of Catwoman's true identity and Selina/ Bruce have had a long running on/off relationship. In Batman Hush Selina also learnt of Batman's true identity as well. Batman has always had a soft spot for Catwoman and often lets her off for her crimes. Likewise Catwoman often protects Batman and they have each others trust.

13. Lets face it Batman can be a bit of a dick and every time they get close he tends to push Catwoman away. Selina isn't the type of person to put up with his shit though and never stands for his fuckboy behaviour!

14. Over the years Catwoman has had a number of looks. In the comics she has always been depicted as having black hair and usually has green eyes. Her original costume was a long purple dress with a green belt and cape and a purple cowl. Her weapon of choice is usually a whip.

15. In the early 90's Catwoman was given her own standalone comic book series where she was also given a new look- a purple catsuit and black boots and gloves with claws on. This series ran until the 94th issue and was drawn by Jim Balent.  

16. In 2001 Catwoman was given a reboot and her new look was designed by Darwyn Cooke. The costume is perhaps her most iconic and features the black catsuit and goggles look. Ed Brubaker wrote Catwoman as a crime noir and the ongoing series took her character right up to The New 52 (where all of Dc Comics titles were 'reset' back to the beginning allowing new fans a place to jump on). She also regularly featured in Batman comics.

17. 2011 was the start of The New 52 and focuses on Selina's earlier exploits as Catwoman. It also rewrites her origin story and is very much inspired by her origins depicted in the (amazing) 1992 film Batman Returns.

18. The ongoing Catwoman series ran right up until October 2016 and is collected in 8 trade paperbacks. 

19. In 2016 DC Comics had another reboot called Rebirth. Although as yet Selina doesn't have her own solo series she has featured in Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, DC Bombshells, and has had her own one shot issue entitled Catwoman: Election Night. She has also featured heavily in the Batman comic, most recently featuring in a big storyline where Batman proposes to Catwoman! 

So that brings up to present day! Now here are some of my recommended reading (and watching) for Catwoman...

1. Catwoman by Jim Balent book one (here) This collects the first 14 issues of Catwoman's first solo comic series starting in 1993. You can also find the single issues on ebay for reasonable prices.
2. Catwoman: When in Rome (here) This is a great graphic novel bridging her story over to the new run in which Selina investigates her past.
3. Catwoman: The Trial of Catwoman (here) This is a big collected book featuring the first chunk of the Ed Brubaker stories. I highly recommend this as it's brilliant reading.
4. Batman: Hush (here) This is my favourite Batman graphic novel and is about the mysterious Hush. It features a who's who of Batman's rogue gallery but I especially love it as Catwoman is a main player in the story and it really gets into her and Batmans relationship. Catwoman is also totally badass in this!
5. Gotham City Sirens (here) You can read the complete story in two complete books and this sees Selina teaming up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn to cause some trouble.
6. Catwoman: The Game (here) If you want a good jumping on point then this is the first volume of The New 52.

1. Batman '66 (here) The Iconic Adam West Batman TV show from the 60s featured Catwoman's first on screen appearance played brilliantly by Julie Newmar. Throughout the show she was also played by Lee Meriwether and Ertha Kitt who all added their own spin to the role.
2. Batman Returns (here) This 1992 film is a classic (and one of my favourite ever films!) Directed by Tim Burton this gives Catwoman a new origin by making Selina a meek secretary who after meeting Batman and getting killed by her evil boss is them brought back to life by a bunch of stray cats (yeah I know, but it works!) She then dons her alter ego Catwoman and she is perfectly played by Michelle Pfeiffer. 
3. Gotham (available o Netflix). Gotham is a show set just after the events of Bruce Waynes parents being murdered and tells reworked stories of lots of villains and allies of Batman fro the comics. Camren Bicondova plays a young Selina Kyle- a street smart and badass thief who befriends a young Bruce. This show is well worth a watch!

So that's my guide to Catwoman! I hope you enjoyed it. Next time: Batgirl.

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