(Selina Kyle) is a fictional supervillainess
appearing in American comic books
published by DC Comics
, commonly in association with Batman
. Originally a supervillainess and often an antiheroine
, the character was created by Bob Kane
and Bill Finger
, partially inspired by Kane's cousin, Ruth Steel,
as well as actress Jean Harlow
. The original and most widely known Catwoman, Selina Kyle
, makes her debut in Batman
#1 (Spring 1940
), in which she is known as The Cat
. Although she is usually depicted as an adversary of Batman, Catwoman is known for having a complex love-hate relationship with him and has been Batman's most enduring love interest.
In her first appearance, she was a whip
with a taste for high-stake thefts.
For many years the character thrived, but from September 1954 to November 1966 Catwoman took an extended hiatus due to the newly 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. Since the 1990s, Catwoman has been featured in an eponymous series that cast her as an antiheroine rather than a traditional villain.
A popular figure, Catwoman has been featured in most 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
motion picture. Michelle Pfeiffer
portrayed the character in 1992's Batman Returns
. Halle Berry
starred in a stand-alone Catwoman film, 2004's Catwoman
, which was a critical and commercial flop, and bears little to no resemblance to the Batman character. Anne Hathaway
portrayed Selina Kyle in the 2012 film The Dark Knight Rises
and, most recently, a young version of Kyle is played by Camren Bicondova
on the 2014 television series, Gotham
Catwoman was ranked 11th on IGN
's "Top 100 Comic Book Villains of All Time" list,
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,
as well as 23rd in Comics Buyer's Guide's
"100 Sexiest Women in Comics" list.
In the comic books, two other women have dressed as Catwoman, apart from Selina: Holly Robinson
and Eiko Hasigawa.
Catwoman's origin—and, to an extent, her character—was revised in 1987 when writer Frank Miller
and artist David Mazzucchelli
published Batman: Year One
, a revision of Batman's origin. She works as a dominatrix
in order to survive and wants to break away from her abusive pimp
(and former boyfriend). She witnesses his crimes and, because of an event that occurs to her sister, fears for her sister's life and begins to study self-defense and martial arts
. Her teacher inspires Selina to become more than what she has been and she realizes that prostitution is no life for her, or for Holly.Holly Robinson
is a young runaway who idolizes Selina, but is much too young to be on the streets as far as Selina is concerned. Selina shares her home with Holly after she takes her in. As the story progresses Selina is led to a bit of burglary, she dons a catsuit costume that her now former pimp gave to her the day that she told him she was out of the business. After costuming herself so as not to be revealed, she gets a taste for burglary and begins to do it in more of a Robin Hood way than an actual thief. This is, however, how she runs into Batman. After a small confrontation, she begins to be inspired to stay in her costume and become the "Catwoman" after seeing Batman in action with others. Selina gets the idea that, if there is a "bat," why can there not be a "cat?"
The 1989 Catwoman
limited series, written by Mindy Newell
and with art by J.J. Birch, expanded upon Miller's Year One
origin. This storyline, known as "Her Sister's Keeper", explores Selina's early life as a dominatrix and the start of her career as Catwoman. The story culminates with Selina's former pimp, Stan, abducting and violently abusing her sister Maggie, who, in contrast to Selina, is a nun
. Selina kills Stan to save her sister, and gets away with it. Most of this is revealed in the former series, but is expanded upon in "Her Sister's Keeper."Catwoman
(vol. 2) #69, which provides details about Selina's childhood, neglects Maggie's existence. Maria Kyle is a distant parent who preferred to spend her time with cats, and commits suicide
when Selina is very young. Her alcoholic
father, Brian, is cold to Selina for resembling her mother (whom he resents for dying), and eventually drinks himself to death. To survive, Selina takes to the streets for a time before getting caught and sent first to an orphanage
, then juvenile hall
"where Selina began to see how hard the world could really be."
Maggie's fate at this point in the time-line is not alluded to. However, when Ed Brubaker
reintroduces her into the comic, he implies that Maggie may have directly entered an orphanage and promptly been adopted
When she is 13, Selina discovers that the hall's administrator has been embezzling
funds, and she confronts her. In an attempt to cover up her crime, the administrator puts Selina in a bag and drops her in a river to drown (like a cat). She escapes and returns to the orphanage, where she steals documents exposing the administrator's corruption. She uses these to blackmail the administrator into erasing "Selina Kyle" from the city's records, then steals the administrator's diamond necklace and escapes the orphanage.
Selina eventually finds herself in "Alleytown - a network of cobblestone streets that form a small borough between the East End and Old Gotham
Selina is taken in by Mama Fortuna, the elderly leader of a gang of young thieves, and is taught how to steal. Fortuna treats her students like slaves
, keeping their earnings for herself. Selina eventually runs away, accompanied by her friend Sylvia. However, the two have difficulty surviving on their own, and in desperation try to support themselves by working as prostitutes. The two drift apart afterward, with Sylvia coming to resent Selina for not inquiring about what had happened to her at the hands of her abusive first client.
In the Catwoman: Year One
Selina (now an adult) achieves some success as a thief. Following a disastrous burglary, however, she accepts an offer to "lie low" as a dominatrix in the employ of a pimp named Stan. They plan to trick men into divulging information that might be used in future crimes. According to this storyline, Selina trains under the Armless Master of Gotham City, receiving education in martial arts and culture. During this time, a client gives her a cat o' nine tails
, which Selina kept as a trophy.Batman: Dark Victory
, the sequel to The Long Halloween
, implies that Catwoman suspects she is the illegitimate daughter of mafia
boss Carmine Falcone
, although she finds no definitive proof. Selina's connection to the Falcone family is further explored in the miniseries Catwoman: When in Rome
. Though the story adds more circumstantial evidence
to the theory of Selina's Falcone heritage, establishing that the Falcones' secondborn daughter was put up for adoption in America, it also supplies no definitive proof. During The Long Halloween
, Selina (out of costume) develops a relationship with Bruce Wayne, even leading her to save Bruce from Poison Ivy. However, this relationship appears to end on the Fourth of July when Bruce rejects her advances twice; once as Bruce and once as Batman. She leaves him for good and also leaves Gotham for a while in Batman: Dark Victory
, after he stands her up on two holidays. When the two meet at an opera many years later, during the events of Hush
, Bruce comments that the two no longer have a relationship as Bruce and Selina.
Catwoman also appears in the Batman: Knightfall
saga, where she is approached by Bane
's henchmen while robbing a house. Bane asks her to work for him, but she refuses, as she is repulsed by the criminal who "broke" Batman. Later in the story, she boards a plane with Bruce Wayne
to fly to Santa Prisca
. She next appears in the Batman: Knightquest
saga, where Azrael
is masquerading as Batman. She is one of the few to recognize that Batman is an impostor, later being present when the true Batman returns to the fold as he struggles against his successor, his willingness to save even criminals confirming his true identity for Selina.
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 erstwhile sidekick, Arizona; aiding Bane, whom she later betrays to Azrael; and a stint as a reluctant government operative. The series also fleshes out more of 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, Selina becomes corporate vice president then CEO of Randolf Industries, a mafia-influenced company, 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.
Selina then 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. 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 in to 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.