After 12 issues on the series–including one very controversial first issues–writer Judd Winick is leaving Catwoman. To replace him, DC Comics has brought in industry veteran Ann Nocenti, who is most known for her time on Daredevil, and who has most recently been brought in to right the ship at Green Arrow. We sat down for an exclusive chat with Nocenti about her new gig.
iFanboy: Is Catwoman a character that you’ve always been interested in?
Ann Nocenti: Oh yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. She hits a chord with me, for sure.
iF: Catwoman has been portrayed in a lot of different ways over the years, both in comics and in other media. How do you see Catwoman? What’s your take on Catwoman?
AN: A part of her feels almost like Audrey Hepburn or like an “It Girl.” The Selena Kyle persona is, to me, a lot lighter, a lot more fashionable. And then the Catwoman side of her is compulsive. She’s unstoppable. She’s really unstoppable, you know? It’s a compulsion. There’s a schism between the two sides of her.
iF: How do you approach a character like Catwoman who rides a very thin line between hero and villain? She’s a thief but she’s also been portrayed as a bad guy, but she’s also been a good guy. Where do you see her fitting in, in that spectrum?
AN: That’s a really good question because it’s difficult to write a [lead] character that is not heroic. Yes, she has the heroism of a damaged person. You know, maybe she’s more human? Most people I know don’t run around devoting their lives to saving other people; although I do know people like that. But most humans just kind of take care of their own stuff and they don’t feel particularly heroic. I mean, the heroism of the ordinary person is more like, they’re getting food on the table for their kids, you know? Or helping their neighbors a little bit or something. So she’s not driven by heroism she’s driven by something so compulsive. It’s heists but it doesn’t feel like the kind of thing you’ll see in, like, an old French film about a heist. It’s more like almost a kleptomania. It’s like something that she cannot stop.
iF: Does that struggle between being good and bad make her more relatable?
AN: I mean, I like the characters that have that pure heroism, you know? That have this unerring moral compass. There’s just something so gorgeous about them, like, so exciting. But of course there’s just so much more turmoil inside somebody [struggling between good and evil]. It’s almost like—I don’t really know my Arthurian legend very well—but wasn’t it like, Galahad was born good and Lancelot kind of had to struggle and a leap to be good? So I think there’s more juice inside somebody that isn’t innately heroic, but somehow she does find herself in positions of conscience and regret, and finds herself sometimes even doing something, surprisingly, good.
iF: So do you see Catwoman, ultimately when all is said and done, as a good guy? As a hero?
AN: No. [Laughs] You know, we throw around the word “anti-hero”… I don’t even know what that means. Anti-hero is sort of like “not quite villain”, you know? It’s not like she’s trying to dominate the world or hurt people intentionally, you know? She’s an “anti-hero”, but that term is thrown around so much that you don’t even know what it means. I mean, when she gets up in the morning she might have a certain amount of intentionality to live a normal life but at some point something overcomes her and she’s just got to go get something that glitters, and get it away from someone else, and have it in her own little pocket, and put it in her nest. She’s just gotta do it.
AN: I see him as someone that she has to know that he’s there for her. She doesn’t need him, she doesn’t want him totally, but she has to know he’s there. I mean, it ‘ain’t a healthy relationship. [Laughs] It’s like on Facebook when someone writes, “It’s Complicated.” [Laughs] It’s very, very, very complicated. They obviously have oodles and oodles of sexuality, but I think their sexuality is a really strange battle between him trying to get her over to his side and her kind of trying but not quite able to make it.
iF: Will Batman be appearing much in your run or will he be someone in the background, always lurking but never in the story?
AN: I think he’s gonna move back to the background. In the run that [Judd Winick] did there was that culmination, you know, they had sex. So it’s good to pull back and just say, okay that arc was really cool and really exciting but now we pull back a little bit. We want to miss him a little bit. We want to want him back, you know?
iF: So does that mean that there might be other romantic possibilities for Catwoman other than Batman?
AN: Yeah. I think that she seems to surround herself with Type-A personalities. Risky people. She seems to like that. And maybe the thing is that it would be good to explore why. Are they already broken and she can’t break them (because she knows she breaks people)? There’s something that could be fun to explore there.
iF: Is your story going to be a clean start or are you going to be building on or continuing anything that was established in Judd Winick’s time on the book?
AN: Well, I think I’m going to do a clean break, do some new stories and then go back and look at what was established in the first 12 issues. It’s almost like, if you want to bring something back that’s been in a story, you want to have a new angle on it, you want to have an interesting twist on it. Actually, to a certain degree there’s not a lot of threads dangling, you know? She has this wonderful friend Lola but now she’s dead, and she has this relationship with a car thief but then he turned on her, so there’s like a beginning, middle, and an end to those storylines, so you don’t really want to rush into pulling something out of there until the time feels right.
iF: Catwoman’s been portrayed in the past as a loner, but also in certain runs—notably the Ed Brubaker run—she had a very robust supporting cast of friends. How do you see your Catwoman? Does she have a lot of friends or is she by herself?
AN: Well, you know, one flaw in my little house here is that I haven’t read a lot of Catwoman stories. Which I think is okay at first, you know? Kind of do your own take on her. But at some point I will talk to my editor Rachel [Gluckstern] about what I should read. Because when a character has 50 years of stories, you don’t want to go down those roads again, you know? But I kind of just want to trust my instincts first and come up with some new stuff and then ask to be lead to this cool series or that cool series. But as to your question, I see her as alone even in a crowd. So, you know, if she makes friends they’re disposable. There’s a certain innate thing in having a double identity: you are guarding. When you’re Catwoman, is that the real you? When you’re Selena Kyle, is that you? So when she’s making friends as Catwoman or as Selena they’re two separate things. She’s always gotta be, to a certain degree, very guarded about her life.
Interesting to note that Catwoman will now not only have a female writer but an editor as well. Ann Nocenti takes over the book with Catwoman #0 and her first “regular” issue, Catwoman #13, hits stores October 17. The new artist for the book has not yet been announced, but we should know on Monday.
UPDATE! The new artist, according to the October solicits, is Adriana Melo. That means the book will be edited, written, and drawn by women.