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Catwoman Then and Now: How Different Is She Really?

How much of Catwoman's personality has changed since DC's revamp, and is it for the better?

I'm a big believer in allowing the writer, once they get an opportunity to write a character, to actually write that character. I think that once a creator takes over a book he should be able to take some creative liberties with the characters, story lines and what have you; and tell the story through his own eyes because (lets face it) everyone sees and reads characters differently.

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The voice I have for Batman when I read Batman (which happens to sound a lot like Kevin Conroy) might be very different than the voice you have for Batman when you read Batman. Maybe your Batman laughs a little bit more, whereas mine doesn't laugh at all. Anyway, my point is, we all have different perceptions of what a character should sound and act like, and not all versions of a character should sound and act the same.

Different writers and artists have different perceptions of the same character, which is why when their version of said character differs from the one we envision, we (as readers) might not be so crazy about the characterizations. That's exactly the issue I think a lot of people have had with the relaunch of the CATWOMAN series by Judd Winick, for example. How much has her character changed? What has changed, and is it blatant? Subtle? Have the changes made to Catwoman been good?

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A few days ago, Tony wrote an 'Off My Mind' where he discussed whether DC should have taken bigger risks with the relaunch of their comics. I don't know about you, but I think they have already made some pretty bold moves ranging from altering some of their character origins to significantly increasing the amount of violence and sexual content in their books. Particularly in CATWOMAN.

Readers have been very vocal about the changes that have been made to Catwoman's character, and while I don't necessarily think the changes have been altogether bad (the first two issues did have some redeeming qualities), her current incarnation is still incredibly different from her previous portrayals. If you were to compare Winick's current CATWOMAN to Darwyn Cooke's CATWOMAN: SELINA'S BIG SCORE (2002), for example, you'll see that while the character is still Selina Kyle, she's very different.


The first two issues of Winick's CATWOMAN have portrayed Selina as reckless with one goal in mind: revenge. If you've been reading the story then you already know that Selina has been hot on the heels of a Russian mobster who violently attacked and killed a friend of hers, and she has made it her mission to make him hurt. This is very different from the portrayal of Kyle in Cooke's book, CATWOMAN: SELINA'S BIG SCORE. In that series, Selina's goal was not to enact revenge on an adversary who did her wrong, but to get her hands on a huge sum of cash. In fact, robbing people has generally been Selina's primary motive over the years in most of her stories, so the fact that Winick relaunched her book with a "revenge theme" is rather interesting. Does this mean that this version of Selina will be more compassionate now then she was then?


Winick's Selina is seemingly reckless in her behavior, something that the character absolutely isn't in Darwyn Cooke's BIG SCORE. Cooke's Selina is more self aware, a little (ok, maybe a lot) more materialistic. She knows exactly what she wants, and she has a solid understanding that while it may not come easy, she's ready (and rather willing) to suffer the casualties to get what she wants. The above panel is pulled from Cooke's series and serves as an example of how emotionally detached Selina is. Her focus is to "get the gold," something starkly different from her goal in Winick's CATWOMAN.

In fact here, Selina seems incredibly thoughtful and cautious. She's tactful and mindful about who she brings into the fold and maintains an understanding that not everyone will get out alive. But she's also sort of okay with that. In Winick's CATWOMAN, however, Selina is far more reckless; visiting her friend's home and putting her in danger. She doesn't quite realize that her actions can have some really serious repercussions, and that her choices aren't only putting herself in danger but that she's endangering the lives of the people closest to her as well.

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Romantic detachment is evident in both books. In Winick's first two issues Selina has a very close relationship with a friend of hers (who you can see in the panel above), and she is also clearly (albeit "casually") involved with Batman. In Cooke's BIG SCORE, however, Selina gathers a group of people she is completely detached from -- with the exception of "Stark," who basically taught her everything she knew. Although she says she doesn't love him (above) many of the scenes in the book contradict that statement, and the reader will likely see right through her "tough" exterior.

One thing that has been consistent with nearly all of the "New 52" titles is how much DC has upped the ante on the amount of violence in their books. In the first and second issue alone, Catwoman is seen getting beat up, beating people up, and the only friend of hers that we've met so far has been murdered. Needless to say, the creative team behind this book has been anything but subtle when it's come to the content and gratuitousness amount of violence in the current CATWOMAN series so far.

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Darwyn Cooke mastered the art of subtlety in his CATWOMAN: SELINA'S BIG SCORE, and that's what made so much of that book interesting. The fact that Cooke forces the reader to use his or her imagination when it comes to reading adds something very special to the story. The panel above, taken directly from the book, is a good example of that. Yes, the scene is very violent, but Cooke captures the element of suspense and you can almost feel what the character is experiencing panel by panel.

There's no question that one of the characteristics that makes Selina stand out is this element of sexuality that she possesses. She's sexy and provocative, but it's depicted in two very distinctly different ways in both series. Winick's CATWOMAN is very much in your face, and some of the scenes are no holds barred -- it's pretty obvious what is going on. Cooke's Catwoman is very different, however. Yes, she's attractive and provocative and sexy but again, it's subtle. Cooke is all about subtlety, and he leaves a lot of the the scenes and character interactions up to the reader's imagination. It's obvious that the relationship between Selina and Stark was a romantic one at some point, and may even have been rekindled to an extent during the Cooke's BIG SCORE. While this relationship is implied through the dialogue and the characters' body language, it's still something left up to the discretion of the reader. This makes it one of those stories that you could go back and read over and over again because Cooke allows the story up to be interpreted in a variety of different ways.

Needless to say, CATWOMAN: SELINA'S BIG SCORE is a completely different from the current CATWOMAN series we have now. Not only does Cooke's Catwoman have a definitive "crime noir" feel, but it's more subtle in both the amount of violence and sexuality that the reader is exposed to. Winick's current Catwoman series is very different. His Selina seems inexperienced, reckless and the violence and sex is very prevalent in the story. On of my concerns is that the latter elements my only concern is that may overshadow the evolution of Selina's character. These stories are coming from two very different places and have two very different styles. What do you prefer as a reader? Are you enjoying DCs current CATWOMAN series, or would you prefer that the character return to more subtle, crime noir roots?