I meant to post about this here waaaay back when I first did it, but it totally slipped my mind. Oh well. With Catwoman's new solo series due to hit stands in a couple of days, and hype for The Dark Knight Rises really heating up, it seems like the perfect time to fix that. This post has already been linked to by Newsarama, DC Women Kicking Ass and The Mary Sue and a couple of other sites, so you might have seen it before. If not...enjoy!
"How did I get to be so brave?" Selina asks herself in a fear toxin induced haze above.
It's a fair question. But to answer it, we have to look at its deeper roots--roots that lie in a question of motivation. What compels a seemingly ordinary individual like Selina Kyle to don a mask and stalk the night?
For Bruce Wayne, it took seeing his parents murdered in front of him; Jonathan Crane, a lifetime of ridicule and pain; Harley Quinn, all-consuming obsessive love. All the best heroes and villains in every medium, from literature to film to comic books, have traceable motivations for their behavior. It humanizes them and makes them easier for us, the audience, to understand and sympathize with.
For Selina, there was no one defining moment--at least, not in the way that there was for Bruce Wayne. Instead, it took numerous experiences, some positive and some negative, conspiring to strengthen her, both inside and out. A series of misfortunes, teachers, mistakes to learn from and some very lucky twists of fate to put Selina Kyle in the position for the stars to align just right for her to become the Feline Fatale we all know today.
If you were to wander into a comic shop and ask the clerk behind the counter why Selina became Catwoman, chances are they wouldn't be able to tell you in great detail. Not because she doesn't have a detailed history, but because most of the comics that touch on her origin stories are out of print--and have been for a long, long time. In fact, this problem isn't limited to just the clerk in the comic shop; so little information is available online regarding Selina's origins that there is no way to get a complete picture of who she is from any source.
As a result of this, there's some very wrong info floating around. People remember events wrong, or misrepresent them, or misinterpret them, or they've heard it from a friend-of-a-friend. However the bad information is created, it then gets spread around until it starts to look like fact.
People who don't like Selina's origin as a dominatrix, for example, state over and over again that the events of Batman: Year One have never been confirmed by other sources, or that they've been contradicted by Catwoman: Year One. Others say that she never trained with Ted Grant, or that she couldn't possibly be as skilled as she is in the art of hand-to-hand combat because we never saw her training with anyone, or that it doesn't make sense for a dominatrix to suddenly have mad cat burglary skillz.
Up until now, there's never been any way to dispute these statements, no matter how incorrect they are. Personally, every time I see them, I get hopping mad because I know better. But, that's me. I've been collecting Catwoman's appearances for ages; I've been reading her stories for fifteen years; I can't expect everyone else to track down every single issue just to find out what really makes Selina tick.
One of the underlying reasons I started this blog was not just to spread love for Catwoman around, but to serve as an educational resource. About eighty percent of Catwoman’s post-crisis comics appearances remain uncollected, including all of her 90‘s solo-series (except four issues in ‘The Cat File‘--which is out of print). This means the only way you’ll find them is by scouring back issue bins--and even then, you might not know what to look for. If you ever want to read Selina’s complete origin story, it’d take forever to track everything down and piece it together.
Thus, after nearly nine months of preparation, searching, research and hard work, I have compiled the most complete post-crisis Catwoman origin in history. Since I own about four hundred of Selina’s four hundred-sixty comics appearances published since the crisis--indeed, I own EVERY appearance from 1986 to 1999 as well as her 1989, 1993 and 2002 series and am slowly filling in what few gaps are left--I was able to comb through every appearance, looking for mentions of her origin so that nothing would be left out.
Piecing together the timeline took a fair bit of doing and a fair bit of me pulling my hair out, but all in all, the result was worth it. The timeline draws from several different sources that contain information about Selina’s beginnings: Batman: Year One, Catwoman: Her Sister’s Keeper, Catwoman Annual #2, Catwoman #0, Catwoman: Secret Files and Origins, Catwoman #81 and Catwoman #94.
In the interests of clarity and conciseness, I had one rule while compiling the timeline:
Events must be either CONFIRMED by another comic or UNDISPUTED throughout continuity to make it onto the timeline as canon.
If part of an event is disputed, while another part of the event is confirmed, then only the confirmed part makes it onto the timeline. Also, with the exception of a couple of pages from Selina's Big Score (still found in Batman: Ego and Other Stories), all of these comics are out of print.
This post is most definitely NOT dial-up friendly and is VERY, VERY image heavy. But I swear it'll be worth it.
Please be advised, this post contains violence, domestic abuse, self harm, suicide and mentions of rape.
(Follow the fake-cut to Selina Kyle's own Year One origin story...)
(x-posted to cat_scratches, batmanvillains & batman_fans)