Selina Kyle, also known as Catwoman, is a fictional character associated with DC Comics’ Batman franchise and created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane. Currently portrayed as an orphan who learned to survive on Gotham City’s streets, Selina took to thievery to survive… but determined to do it in style, she learned martial arts and trained extensively to perfect her skills in cat burglary. Her criminal activities are often tempered by a reluctant altruism, making her an inconstant villain and occasional ally to Batman. She regularly eludes capture by the Dark Knight and maintains a complicated, adversarial relationship with Batman that frequently turns flirtatious and occasionally, legitimately romantic. She’s one of Batman’s best known loves. She was originally characterized as a supervillain and adversary of Batman, but she has been featured in a series since the 1990s which portrays her as an antiheroine, often doing the wrong things for the right reasons.
Catwoman is a Gotham City burglar who typically wears a tight, one-piece outfit and uses a bullwhip for a weapon.
The character thrived since her earliest appearances, but she took an extended hiatus from September 1954 to November 1966 due to the developing Comics Code Authority in 1954.
These issues involved the rules regarding the development and portrayal of female characters that were in violation of the Comics Code, a code which is no longer in use.
Catwoman was ranked 11th on IGN’s list of the “Top 100 Comic Book Villains of All Time“,and 51st on Wizard magazine’s “100 Greatest Villains of All Time” list.Conversely, she was ranked 20th on IGN’s “Top 100 Comic Book Heroes of All Time” list.
Catwoman has been featured in many media adaptations related to Batman. Actresses Julie Newmar, Lee Meriwether, and Eartha Kitt introduced her to a large audience on the 1960s Batman television series and the 1966 Batman film. Michelle Pfeiffer portrayed the character in 1992’s Batman Returns. Halle Berry starred in 2004’s Catwoman; this, however, was a critical and commercial flop and bears little similarity to the Batman character. Anne Hathaway portrayed Selina Kyle in the 2012 film The Dark Knight Rises. A young version of Kyle was played by Camren Bicondova on the 2014 television series Gotham although Lili Simmons portrayed an older Kyle in the series finale.
Catwoman, in her first appearance, wore no costume or disguise at all. It was not until her next appearance that she donned a mask, which was a theatrically face-covering cat-mask that had the appearance of a real cat, rather than a more stylized face mask seen in her later incarnations. Later, she wore a dress with a hood that came with ears, and still later, a catsuit with attached boots and either a domino or glasses-mask.
In the 1960s, Catwoman’s catsuit was green, which was typical of villains of that era. In the 1990s, she usually wore a mostly purple, skintight catsuit before switching to a black catsuit similar to Michelle Pfeiffer’s costume in Batman Returns, except not stitched together.
In recent years, artists have typically depicted Catwoman in some variation of a tight, black bodysuit. Ed Brubaker, the writer behind the 2001 revamp of the character, has stated that Selina’s current costume was inspired by Emma Peel’s iconic leather catsuit in The Avengers television series. It has a more high tech look, with domino-shaped infrared goggles on her cowl. Many of her costumes have incorporated retractable metal claws on the fingertips of her gloves and sometimes on the toes of her boots. On rare occasions, she has also sported a cat’s tail.
On May 21, 2018, DC Comics unveiled Selina’s revamped Catwoman costume designed by comic book writer and artist Joëlle Jones. The new costume is black with openings under her arms and shoulders for mobility along with reinforcement in the middle. Gone are the goggles in favor of a cowl and sleeker, more stylish gloves and boots. Jones, who had been drawing the covers and interior art for DC Rebirth ‘s Batman was announced as the writer and artist of a brand new solo Catwoman series (volume 5).
Holly Robinson uses the same costume Selina used prior to Infinite Crisis.
During the Silver Age, Catwoman, like most Batman villains, used a variety of themed weapons, vehicles, and equipment, such as a custom cat-themed car called the “Cat-illac”. This usage also appeared in the 1960s Batman television series. In her post-Crisis appearances, Catwoman’s favored weapon is a whip. She wields both a standard bullwhip and the cat o’ nine tails with expert proficiency. She uses the whip because it is a weapon that the user must be trained to use, and therefore it can not be taken from her and used against her in a confrontation. She can also be seen using a pistol against people if her whip is taken from her. Catwoman uses caltrops as an anti-personnel weapon and bolas to entangle opponents at a distance.
Catwoman has also been shown to have various items to restrain her victims, such as rope for binding hands and feet, and a roll of duct tape used to gag her targets, as she has done with various victims during her robberies over the years. Often, especially in the TV series, she uses sleeping gas or knockout darts to subdue victims. Catwoman’s attractiveness and feminine wiles have also allowed her to take advantage of male opponents.
List of Catwoman titles
- Catwoman (miniseries) Vol. 1 #1–4 (1989)
- Catwoman: Defiant (1992)
- Catwoman Vol. 2 #1–94 (1993–2001)
- Catwoman #0 (1994)
- Catwoman #1,000,000 (1998)
- Catwoman Annual #1–4 (1994–1997)
- Catwoman/Vampirella: The Furies (1997)
- Catwoman Plus/Scream Queen #1 (1997) (with Scream Queen)
- Catwoman/Wildcat #1–4 (1998)
- Catwoman: Guardian of Gotham #1–2 (1999)
- Catwoman Vol. 3 #1–83 (2002–2008, 2010)
- Catwoman: Secret Files and Origins #1 (2003)
- Catwoman: When in Rome #1–6 (2004)
- Batman/Catwoman: Trail of the Gun #1–2 (2004)
- Gotham City Sirens #1–26 (2009–2011) (Catwoman co-stars in the title alongside Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn)
- Catwoman Vol. 4 #1–52 (2011–2016)
- Catwoman #0
- Catwoman: Future’s End #1
- Catwoman Annual #1–2 (2013, 2014)
- Catwoman Vol. 5 #1–ongoing (2018–present)
Catwoman solo series
Catwoman, painted by Joe DeVito over pencil art by the titular character’s series artist Jim Balent. Balent penciled Catwoman for several years and defined the visuals of the character for a long period.
In 1993, Catwoman was given her first ongoing comic book series. This series, written by an assortment of writers, but primarily penciled by Jim Balent, generally depicted the character as an international thief (and occasional bounty hunter) with an ambiguous moral code.
Story-lines include her adoption of teenage runaway and former sidekick, Arizona; aiding Bane, whom she later betrays to Azrael; and a stint as a reluctant government operative. The series also delves into her origin, revealing her beginnings as a young thief, her difficult period in juvenile incarceration, and her training with Ted “Wildcat” Grant.
Moving to New York City, Selina becomes corporate vice president of Randolf Industries, a mafia-influenced company and then becomes its CEO through blackmail. She plans to use this position to run for Mayor of New York City, but her hopes are dashed when the Trickster inadvertently connects her to her criminal alter ego.
After her time in New York City, Selina returns to Gotham City, which at this time is in the midst of the No Man’s Land storyline. As Catwoman, she assists Batman against Lex Luthor in the reconstruction of the city. After being arrested by Commissioner Gordon, she escapes from prison. Later that year, during the “Officer Down” storyline in the Batman titles, Catwoman is initially the chief suspect. Although later cleared, she displays increasingly erratic behavior throughout the story, with her series later revealing that she has developed a form of personality disorder after exposure to Scarecrow’s fear gas, causing her to act as herself and an identity that appears to be her sister Maggie pretending to be her. Soon afterward, she disappears and is believed to have been killed by the assassin Deathstroke the Terminator, ending her series at issue #94.
Catwoman then appears in a series of backup stories in Detective Comics #759–762 (August–November 2001). In the backup storyline “Trail of the Catwoman”, by writer Ed Brubaker and artist Darwyn Cooke, private detective Slam Bradley attempts to find out what really happened to Selina Kyle. This storyline leads into the newest Catwoman series in late 2001 (written by Brubaker initially with Cooke, later joined by artist Cameron Stewart). In this series, Selina Kyle, joined by new supporting cast members Holly and Slam Bradley (a character from the early Golden Age DC Comics), becomes protector of the residents of Gotham’s East End, while still carrying out an ambitious career as a cat burglar.
During the Batman: Hush storyline, Batman and Catwoman briefly work together and have a romantic relationship, during which he reveals his true identity to her. At the end, he breaks off their relationship when he suspects it has been manipulated by the Riddler and Hush. This is the second story to establish that she knows Batman’s true identity. In an early 1980s storyline, Selina and Bruce develop a relationship. The concluding story features a closing panel in which she refers to Batman as “Bruce”. A change in the editorial team at that point, however, brought a swift end to that storyline and, apparently, all that transpired during the story arc.
In the Justice League story arc “Crisis of Conscience”, Catwoman fights alongside Batman and the Justice League against the old Secret Society, of which she had once briefly been a member.