Posts Tagged ‘Selina Kyle’

Remembering Len Wein, and his Reinvention of Catwoman

September 11, 2017

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Legendary comic book creator Len Wein passed away yesterday at the age of 69. “Legendary” is no exaggeration either; the man co-created Wolverine, one of the most famous superheroes of all time. And if that wasn’t enough, he also co-created the bulk of the new X-Men that revitalized the franchise in the 1970s, including Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Storm. Plus he co-created Swamp Thing, edited Alan Moore’s brilliant run on the book. He then edited Moore again on Watchmen, the most famous superhero graphic novel of all time. Over the course of his career, Wein wrote or edited nearly every major superhero at both DC and Marvel, leaving his mark on all of them. He was a fan made good, who used to tour the DC offices as a teen in the 1960s before finally landing a writing job there, and his love for the genre led to decades of great stories.

Wein is also remembered for one dark moment in the Batman universe. In the late 1980s, as an editor he okayed the shooting of Barbara Gordon, formerly Batgirl, in an attack that left her paralyzed in Batman: The Killing Joke. However, most fans are unaware of his important role in revitalizing a different female character in the Bat-mythos, Catwoman. Throughout the 1970s, Catwoman was adrift at DC Comics. Her popular turn on the Batman television show in the 1960s had ended a decade-long hiatus for the character, but no one at DC was able to figure out what to do with her after that. Her depictions varied wildly, different costumes were used, and she had no sustained runs.

Then Len Wein brought her back in Batman #308 in 1979. He was the regular writer on the book, and reintroduced the character via her alter ego, Selina Kyle. She’d gone straight, leaving her criminal past behind, and she wanted Bruce Wayne’s help with her investments:

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Bruce was suspicious and had his business manager Lucius Fox, another character created by Wein, investigate her. Selina found out and was angry, but Bruce apologized and soon the two began dating.

Selina became a regular part of the book for the next year or so. Her relationship with Bruce seemed doomed from the beginning, though; in a bit of foreshadowing, the duo dressed as Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon on one of their earliest dates:

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When Selina started acting erratically, Bruce got suspicious, especially when someone in a cat costume stole valuable items from the Gotham Museum. He even came after her as Batman, and refused to believe her as Bruce when she said she wasn’t involved. It turned out her behavior was due to a mysterious illness and that the real thief was Cat-Man. She’d been telling the truth the whole time. Selina donned her Catwoman outfit again to help Batman nab Cat-Man, but afterward she broke up with Bruce because he didn’t trust her, then left Gotham City:

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It was an excellent arc, one that successfully reintegrated Catwoman into Batman’s world while, in a clever twist, making Batman/Bruce the villain of the piece. His inability to believe in her reformation doomed their relationship, though Wein made sure not to end it too badly that she would never return.

And return she did. Over the next several years, new writers brought back Catwoman again and again. While some of the stories weren’t as good, with one even turning her into a crazed stalker when Bruce started dating Vicki Vale, she nonetheless remained a regular presence across the Batman line, raising her profile considerably. The changes in continuity following Crisis on Infinite Earths and Batman: Year One resulted in a new take on Catwoman in the late 1980s, and a solo series followed after Michelle Pfeiffer’s wildly popular take on Catwoman in Batman Returns in 1992. But I think it’s fair to say all of this might not have happened without Wein bringing Catwoman back into the fold. She was pretty near forgotten over the course of the 1970s, and her prominence in the early 1980s played a key role in setting her up for her future successes.

Wein will be remembered for his splashier additions to the superhero world. I mean, the guy co-created Wolverine. That’s a big deal. But for me, as soon as I heard about Wein’s passing I remembered the way he reintroduced a character that I love dearly, captured her proper ferocity and spirit, and made her relevant again. It’s a small thing in the lengthy list of his many achievements. However, after such a prolific career, I’m sure there are innumerable small moments being remembered fondly today, though with a tinge of sadness.

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The Many Lives of Catwoman Moments, Week Nine: Distress, Décolletage, and Dinner

July 3, 2017

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My new book The Many Lives of Catwoman: The Felonious History of a Feline Fatale is now officially available across various formats, including paper, ebook, and audiobook, and I’ve been highlighting key moments from Catwoman’s history on Tumblr for several weeks to celebrate its release. Even though the book is out now, the online Catwoman fun will continue for a few more weeks yet as I continue to showcase randomly assorted panels and film stills from her fascinating career across a variety of media. It’s a mix of fun and informative moments that offer a sneak peek at what’s covered in The Many Lives of Catwoman and showcase what makes Catwoman such a great character.

Last week, the ten moments that we looked at included:

And finally, my favourite Catwoman moment of the week is from Batman: Dark Victory #2 by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, published in 2000. Loeb and Sale’s major Batman stories, Long Halloween and Dark Victory, featured a massive cast of Gotham’s citizens, and while the mysteries were sometimes a bit convoluted, they were gorgeous, enjoyable tales. The books are especially great because they include a delightful take on Catwoman, who romanced Bruce Wayne in her civilian identity while toying with the Dark Knight on her nocturnal outings. She was always flirtatious and fun, and so much more than a standard, simple love interest. Selina knew what she wanted and went after it, and this scene captured that very well. At this point in the story, there was a lot of emotional distance between Bruce and Selina, which was represented by them enjoying a Thanksgiving dinner at opposite ends of a lengthy table. Selina bridged this distance literally and metaphorically, dragging her chair down to Bruce’s end to share his plate and cozy up to her beau. It’s a cute scene from a wonderful series that did wonders in changing how Catwoman was depicted in comics moving forward.

You can catch up on all of the previous Catwoman moments here, and follow along for more fun twice a day! The Many Lives of Catwoman is available for purchase in a variety of formats now as well, so be sure to check it out and read up on this fascinating feline fatale!

The Many Lives of Catwoman Moments, Week Six: Secretaries, Sidekicks, and Schemes

June 12, 2017

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In advance of my new book The Many Lives of Catwoman: The Felonious History of a Feline Fatale officially coming out on July 1 (and already available now at several stores and online retailers!), I’ve been posting key moments from Catwoman’s unique history on Tumblr. It’s a random assortment of comic book panels and film stills, some fun and silly, some important and significant, and many that are both. Each offers a sneak peek at all of the different, intriguing incarnations of Catwoman that the book covers. And this week, with the book’s release date so near, we moved from daily posts to two a day, doubling our Catwoman fun!

Last week, the ten moments we looked at included:

And finally, my favourite Catwoman moment of the week as shown above, is Michelle Pfeiffer as Selina Kyle in Batman Returns. Her Catwoman was phenomenal, of course, but a big part of what made that villainous turn so good was how well Pfeiffer played Selina as a mousey wallflower as the film began. In just a few short scenes, Pfeiffer captured the secretary’s lonely, downtrodden nature perfectly, added just enough hints of charm to make her later transition into Catwoman a believable change. It was a brand new take on Selina Kyle, and one that could have come off clichéd or tacky in the wrong hands, but Pfeiffer made it work spectacularly, grounding her in a string of sorrows while adding a bit of camp to fit the odd tone of the Burton films. Everyone remembers her fantastic take on Catwoman, but her Selina Kyle was marvelous as well.

You can check out all of the Catwoman moments here, and follow along for more Catwoman fun! Two a day posts will continue for the next few weeks, so be sure to check that out. And you can order the book now as well to learn all about this fascinating feline fatale!


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