We're gearing up for a big summer at the movies, and with The Avengers breaking records and The Amazing Spider-Man on course to make gobs of money as well, it's time to start getting ready for another big film this summer, The Dark Knight Rises. The film promises quite a finish to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, due in no small part to Anne Hathaway's much hyped performance as Batman enemy/love interest/anti-hero Catwoman! To get ready for the big event, and to celebrate the character's iconic status in comic book and pop culture legend, let's take a look back at some of Catwoman's greatest and most memorable moments in comic book history; I promise not to "purr-loin" to many bad puns from other sources along the way. Hey, I had to get at least ONE out of my system in the opening paragraph!
10. Catwoman debuts as Batman's chief female adversary Some people are surprised as to just how far back Catwoman's history goes, all the way back in fact to 1940. Appearing in Batman #1, alongside fellow super villain The Joker, Catwoman made her debut as The Cat, a whip-loving high class burglar. She had a certain charm and sophistication to her even then, and that early adventure would make her a presence in Batman's life for years to come. In the beginning she was most directly a sort of enigma for Batman, part witty adversary, part flame for his proverbial moth. Funny how even all these years later, some of those fundamentals have stayed the same. No matter what incarnation of her exists, it all started here in these Golden Age pages. The origin of this character, like a lot of Golden Age characters, would see some change when Earth 2 popped up decades later, but her origin here remains all the more important.
9. Catwoman gives up her daughter, Helena In 2006, many things changed in the DCU, as the action of the major characters and titles jumped a year ahead after the events of Infinite Crisis. Many were stunned to see that Selina Kyle had become , of all things, a mother. She conceived a child with Sam Bradley, naming the daughter Helena. For awhile Selina tried to step away from her life as a thief, with Holly Robinson stepping into the role as master thief. Like so many times in Catwoman's life though, trouble found her. Super villains began targeting Selina and her daughter, making life very difficult for this new mother. In a surprising turn of events, Selina goes for help from Batman and Zatanna, and the duo stage an explosion to make it look like Selina and Helena died. Selina allowed Helena to be adopted by a new family, and she set out for a brief period as one of Batman's Outsiders. It was a glimpse into a very different side of Catwoman that had not bee seen before.
8. Rome sees adventure in Catwoman: When in Rome Catwoman's origin has seen several variations and ups and downs over the years, with some layers getting peeled back and others swept under the rug. One of the more intriguing mysteries has been Catwoman's connection to the Falcone crime family of Gotham City, one that has been explored in other stories such as Batman: The Long Halloween. In this six-issue, 2004 mini series, Catwoman searches for the truth as to whether or not Carmine Falcone is indeed her father. This story also paralleled the events in Batman: Dark Victory. With the Riddler by her side, Catwoman embarked on one of her more introspective, adventure filled stories, which focused on a mystery of her past in a way that had never really been touched on before. She also got a Gotham-sized dose of battle, with weapons from villains such as Mr. Freeze and the Scarecrow appearing, even a battle with the Cheetah. While Catwoman may not have gotten the results and answers that she was hoping for, this 2004 adventure gave a spotlight on Catwoman and showed some of her innermost fears and insecurities, as well as her power and wit in equal measure. And of course there was the whole Catwoman-breaking-into-the-Vatican thing!
7. The Silver Age return of Catwoman! After a long dormant period in comics lasting over ten years (thanks heavy-handed Comics Code!), Catwoman made her bold and triumphant return to relevance in an unlikely comic book title. Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #70 marked the return of the character to comics, and it was from there that she set her sights on returning to relevance. She began appearing in Batman and Detective Comics from there, and she faced off quickly with Batgirl, building on her successful appearances in the television show of the same name. She made several other appearances well into the Bronze Age, even tangling with Wonder Woman during this time and appearing in the history-making Joker series. She reestablished herself as one of Batman's chief nemeses wit these appearances, which saw the character return to her roots as a formidable adversary for the Dark Knight. Several covers from this and the Bronze Age show her tangling with DC's finest heroes, a far cry from her diminished role prior to the late 60s.
6. Batman television series brings Catwoman a new level of fame! The 1960s were a banner decade for Catwoman, as not only did she return to the pages of DC Comics, but the campy 1966-1968 ABC television series Batman brought Catwoman and her seductive evil to a much wider audience, due in no small part to the curvy and hip-hugging costume worn by Julie Newmar and Eartha Kitt in the series and Lee Meriwether in the film. While each actress put her own unique stamp on the character, Newmar the sexually powerful yet deadly femme fatale, Kitt the famous "purrrr" in her voice and the ferocity of the character, each appearance of her was an event. The character was always looking for ways to make Batman her own while simultaneously causing havoc and mayhem throughout Gotham. In one of the more famous lines from the series when Batman asks Catwoman what they'll do about Robin if she joins his side, Newmar quips, "Robin? Oh I've got it. We'll kill him."
5. Catwoman chosen as a champion of the DC Universe While Catwoman has certainly done her share of defending the innocent in her days, it might be fair to say that few would choose her as a "champion" of the world. Someone saw something different in her though, as she was chosen as one of the champions of the Marvel Earth in the 1996 crossover event DC vs. Marvel. In a bizarre set of circumstances, the "keepers" of the respective universes, brothers as it turned out, saw each other and each selected champions to fight against each other to see which universe prevails. Catwoman was one of the chosen few, which saw her fighting against another character not usually known for heroics from the Marvel universe, Elektra. While it was Elektra that ultimately prevailed in battle, Catwoman held her own, and here presence in the mini-series was a nod to her staying power and her emerging place in the DC universe.
4. Catwoman's own ongoing series One of the big reasons this is on the list at all is because of the nature of her status in DC Comics. Not every villain turned anti-hero/hero gets their own series, especially one that maintains a lasting run and is resurrected as part of the new 52. Catwoman did just that. After appearing in her own limited series and one-shots, Catwoman finally earned her own ongoing series in 1993, which subsequently ran for almost 100 issues. That wasn't the last of her though, with 2001 seeing Catwoman getting another crack at a regular series, this one lasting over 80 issues and seeing some of the biggest moments in her history, some of which are featured on this very list! Adding even more to this achievement is the fact that a Catwoman series was part of the first wave of the new DC 52. This new version of the noted thief sees a much more mature subject matter and a Catwoman who has a VERY personal and complicated relationship with Batman. She's racked up more issues of an ongoing series than some of the more well-known DC heroes. Not a bad distinction, and with the attention and success of her most recent series, those previous two numbers could be surpassed!
3. Batman reveals his identity to Catwoman Batman's secret identity has been a highly coveted piece of information amongst the citizens, police and chiefly the villains of Gotham City for years, so anyone who is given that information is entrusted with a great deal of responsibility. During the major Batman storyline "Hush", Batman and Catwoman begin a relationship that results in Batman revealing his identity as Bruce Wayne to her. The confession was a major one, as Bruce/Batman has opened himself up that way to very few people. It was a pretty shocking turn of events, and one of the major complications that arose from this is just how manipulated was the relationship, considering the larger manipulations involved due to the Riddler and Hush's involvement in orchestrating the entire plot of the story. Still, not many people can say they know the identity of the Dark Knight. Readers were left wondering how this would affect future plot lines, and it did keep some threads going for awhile, especially when Hush goes after Catwoman later on. Sadly, it appears that in the new DC continuity, Catwoman has no idea who Batman may be, but we certainly see that their physical relationship has not outlived its nine lives!
2. Michelle Pfeiffer defines Catwoman for a new generation If you take a look at the history of Catwoman's costumes alone, you'll find a closet a mile wide. Her looks have varied, sometimes going back forth in the span of a few years. It takes a certain combination of elements however to radically alter the direction a character's image takes in not only comics, but the pop culture public at large as well. Enter Michelle Pfeiffer and the smash movie Batman Returns in 1992. After the success of Batman in 1989, Batman Returns had a lot riding on it, the villains being one of the chief focal points in Tim Burton's Gotham. With the Penguin and Catwoman chosen, attention was high, and both Danny Devito and Pfeiffer delivered. Pfeiffer's Catwoman was a whip-wielding, skin-tight leather wearing, ass-kicking force of nature, and the public was immediately taken with her. The imagery was so powerful and this version of Selina so popular that the acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series used a more, shall we say, "child-friendly" version of the character. This particular character design has morphed into the way Catwoman is depicted today, along with a lot of the grit and street smarts that the film got from the character's origin. The film may be 20 years old now, but Pfeiffer's portrayal still resonates.
1. Black Mask dies at the hands of Catwoman For decades, Catwoman has had a strict code that shielded the little guy from harm, allowed theft only to those who could afford to lose a little, and above all, no killing. All that changed in a dramatic and jarring storyline from the second volume of Catwoman's self-titled series. Several years before,in the original run, Catwoman and her family had a gruesome and tragic run-in with Black Mask, which resulted in her sister being forced to cannibalize parts of the love of her life. After a rooftop battle with Catwoman, Black Mask seemingly falls to his death. This being comics, that is certainly not the case. He pops up years later in the latest run of Catwoman, crazily attempting to make Selina his nemesis, promising harm and misfortune to those closest to her, all in the name of making himself stronger. In a shocking turn of events, Catwoman turns the tables on Black Mask, points a gun at his lower jaw, and pulls the trigger. Readers were surprised, and with that the code that Catwoman had so long kept up was gone. Even this wasn't the last of the villain, as he resurfaced during Blackest Night to terrorize Catwoman and her family again. This may not be the most honorable or noble event in Catwoman's history, but it certainly stands out for its shock value and turn from so much of the character's past.
So what did I miss? Any gaps? Did I get it right? Let me know!