25 August 2007

The Friends and Foes of Batman - Catwoman

The original Catwoman, Selina Kyle, first appeared in Batman #1 in 1940 and was known as "The Cat." As an adversary of Batman, she was a whip-carrying burglar with a taste for high stake thefts. Her look over the years has morphed quite a bit as has her M.O. More recently, Catwoman has transformed into an anti-hero, gaining her own comic book series. The character has been one of Batman's most enduring love interests, and has occasionally been depicted as his one true love.

Catwoman has appeared outside of the comics in the silly 60's Batman show, as one of the finest parts of Batman Returns depicted by Michelle Pfeiffer clad in spandex, and in animated form in Batman: The Animated Series and The Batman. There is also a terrible Catwoman solo movie with Halle Berry, based on a different character, that I would prefer never existed. Hopefully, Selina will find her way into the new series of Batman films.

The original incarnation of Catwoman was an amnesiac flight attendant who had turned to crime after suffering a blow to the head during a plane crash. She reformed helping out Batman until she decided crime suited her better. Eventually, she rereformed, married Bruce Wayne, and gave birth to their only child, Helena Wayne (the Huntress).

It was revealed that Selina Kyle never had amnesia. She had been the wife of an abusive man, and eventually decided to leave her husband. However, her husband had kept her jewelry in his private vault, and she had to break into it to retrieve the jewelry. Selina enjoyed this experience so much she decided to become a professional costumed cat burglar, and thus began a career that would repeatedly lead to her encountering the Batman.

This version of Catwoman eventually died after after being blackmailed by a criminal into going into action one more time (But of course all of these events were on a parallel Earth).

The current version of Catwoman has a more twisted backstory. Selina is the older of two sisters born to Brian and Maria Kyle. Maria Kyle was a distant parent who preferred to spend her time with cats, and committed suicide when Selina was very young. Brian Kyle, a drunken layabout angry at his wife for killing herself, disliked Selina for resembling her mother and eventually drank himself to death.

Selina took to the streets for a time before being caught and sent first to an orphanage, then Juvenile Hall, where Selina began to see how hard the world could really be. Maggie, Selina's little sister entered an orphanage and was promptly adopted. When she was thirteen, Selina discovered that the orphanage's administrator was embezzling funds and confronted her. In an attempt to cover up the illegal activities, the administrator put Selina in a bag and dropped her in a river to drown (like a cat). Selina was able to escape and returned to the orphanage, where she stole documents that were sent to the authorities to expose the administrator's corruption as well as steal money on which Selina would use to live on now that she was back on the streets.

When the money she stole from the corrupt orphanage administrator ran out, Selina found herself in "Alleytown - a network of cobblestone streets that form a small borough between the East end and Old Gotham." Selina was taken in by "Mama Fortuna", the elderly leader of a gang of young thieves, and was taught how to steal. Fortuna treated her students like slaves, keeping their earnings for herself. Selina eventually ran away, accompanied by her friend Sylvia. However, the two had difficulty surviving on their own, and in desperation tried to support themselves by working as child prostitutes. Sylvia attracted at least one client; Selina apparently never did. The two drifted apart afterwards, with Sylvia blaming Selina for her negative experiences; she hated Selina for not inquiring about what had happened to her at the hands of her abusive first client.

Selina achieved some success as a thief. Following a disastrous burglary, however, she accepted an offer to "lay low" by posing as a dominatrix in the employ of a pimp named Stan. Their plan was to trick men into divulging information that might be used in future crimes. According to this storyline, Selina trained under the Armless Master of Gotham, receiving education in martial arts and culture. During this time, Catwoman was given her trademark cat-o-nine tails whip by a client, which Selina kept as a trophy of her time posing as a hooker.

Selina eventually reformed, thanks to a little mindwiping from Zatanna. Currently, Selina has retired as Catwoman after having a baby named Helena. She has passed the Catwoman mantle on to Holly Robinson.

Holly and Selina were childhood street friends, but when Selina became Catwoman, Holly was left behind. The two eventually reconnected and Holly was trained by Selina. After the baby came, Holly took over as Catwoman, though she still has a lot to learn.

Friend and Foe Profiles:

Ra's al Ghul
Talia al Ghul
Baby Doll
Bat-Hound (Ace)
Black Mask
David Cain
Calendar Man & Calendar Girl

The Dark Knight returns in 328 days!

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