Catwoman Vol. 1: Trail of the Catwoman

Catwoman has always played jump rope with the line between good and evil or, as she puts it, she “lives in shades of grey.”  Most of the time though, she’s favored the unlawful side of that line, with her conscience winning out occasionally as she reaches out to help those in need.  Still, much of her time was spent on the run, looking for her next big score.

With  this new incarnation of the Catwoman series, we begin to see a shift in Selina’s actions.  After having faked her death, Selina is drifting, unsure of who she is or what she’s doing with her life.

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With the help of Doctor Leslie Tompkins, Selina tries to take a little time to herself and allow for some self-reflection to figure out her next move.

Of course, right around that time is when her old friend Holly shows up on her doorstep and tells her that someone’s been going around brutally murdering local prostitutes.

So much for her time off.

Remembering her own life on the streets and knowing that the police and the rest of society won’t do anything to help these girls, Selina takes it upon herself to step in.  She creates a new, updated Catwoman costume and returns to the masked life she knows so well.

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Selina hunts down the killer, but learns that he doesn’t mean to commit the crimes. He is afflicted with some sort of rare condition which allows him to change his appearance, yet has caused him to be horribly disfigured as well. Although this man fights Catwoman and even tries to kill her, she shows him mercy and hands him over to Batman so that he may receive the help he needs.

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Here we see a shift in Selina’s personality.  She has always been most concerned with herself, but she has a certain weakness for helping others.  That weakness has always been present, but it is now manifesting itself as the main drive behind her actions.  Along with Holly (whom she’s hired as an assistant of sorts) Selina decides to become a savior to her little corner of the world, righting wrongs as she learns about them.  Of course, she has no qualms about breaking a law or two now and again, and instead uses her own skewed moral judgement to decide when doing so is necessary.

The stories collected here deal with a variety of issues, from prostitution to drug smuggling.  This version of Catwoman reminds me a bit of Green Arrow, with a very clear idea of what’s right and what’s wrong. Selina simply doesn’t obide by the same judicial code as her peers.  She’s not a true villain, but she’s not a true hero either.  Anti-hero might be an accurate description, but even that doesn’t seem to fully encompass what she is.  Her opinions on justice differ greatly from most, yet in her mind they are very clear-cut.

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She has no grand illusions about changing the entire social structure of the city.  Instead, she focuses on helping individuals, people who have no where else to turn.  It’s an admirable cause, truth be told.  While Batman may claim the same motivation, he isn’t as in touch with the streets as Selina, making her actions a bit more effective for individual cases.

I really enjoyed this comic, primarily because we see a new side of Catwoman without her character completely changing.  She’s still a bit selfish, and she almost always has her own goals at the forefront of her mind, but she’s actually doing some good in the world.  Watching this slow transformation unravel is fascinating, and creates a far more intriguing character than if Catwoman was just a simple thief.  I’m curious to see how this new Selina Kyle interacts with others, particularly Batman, and I hope the “criminal with a heart of gold” element lasts.

Catwoman’s a great character, and it’s awesome that you can finally root for her in these stories.  She may not be perfect, but she’s doing the right thing most of the time, which is a huge step in the right direction.

-Jess

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