Catwoman: Where Do I Start?

She’s a villain. She’s a hero. She’s one of the first comic characters to operate on both sides of the law, and Catwoman wouldn’t have it any other way. Created in 1940 by Batman co-creators Bill Finger and Bob Kane, Selina Kyle is all about the heist – carrying them out and in some cases preventing them. She’s considered both a hero and a villain, ranking #11 as IGN’s top villains and #20 as the website’s top heroes. She’s become one of the most metamorphic characters in super-hero comics when it comes to costumes, from the original 1940s design to her appearances in the 60s Batman show and on to the Jim Balent years and into the now-definitive catsuit design by Darwyn Cooke. She’s carried a complex love-hate relationship with Batman going back decades, and her numerous series, minis and graphic novels prove fans can love her as well.

With the her ongoing title set to return later this month after a three year absence and Anne Hathaway tapped to portray her in the upcoming flick The Dark Knight Rises, we’re seeing just how many lives Selina Kyle can have. Although DC has yet to put out a definitive “best of” collection of Catwoman capers, iFanboy is giving you the low-down on the four books to get you up to speed.

Catwoman: When In Rome: Originally published in 2004 as a six-issue limited series, Catwoman: When In Rome takes DC’s cat-burglar to Rome to uncover the identity of her father. Created by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale during a string of Bat-related hits for DC, the story puts Selina Kyle up against the Riddler and an assortment of purloined weapons from Batman’s rogue’s gallery. Sale’s art takes inspiration from classic fashion illustrator Rene Gruau, and Loeb’s story shows Catwoman coming out from Batman’s shadow and trying to put together the pieces to her life.

Catwoman: The Dark End of the Street: This book has proved to be the definitive text for Selina Kyle both visually and literally, with Ed Brubaker & Darwyn Cooke’s take on this carried out on the character through all her appearances and even translating into the Batman stage show and movies. This one shows Catwoman coming back from a presumed death and re-entrenches herself in the seedy side of Gotham City as a detective trying to play on the side of the angels for once. The inclusion of salty private dick Slam Bradley in this is an eye-opening addition to Catwoman’s supporting cast as well.

Catwoman: Selina’s Big Score: Described as a prequel to Catwoman: The Dark End of the Street, this volume stands on its own and strikes a different tone that balances the crime noir aspects with campiness and melodrama. Set up as a heist comic similar to Ocean’s Eleven, Selina and a group of criminals including ex-boyfrriends and mentors to snatch a payday out from under the nose of some Mafiosos. It’s one of Darwyn Cooke’s early spells as both writer and artist, and shows some whip-smart dialogue and drawings that he would continue on in DC: The New Frontier and the Parker graphic novels.

Catwoman: Nine Lives of the Feline Fatale: Although DC has yet to a publish a definitive “best of” for Selina Kyle, this is the closest thing to it. This collection balances historical stories like her first appearance as “The Cat” in Batman #1 with a sampling of stories from different era in the ever-changing life of Catwoman. Most of the stories show her acting a partner or adversary of Batman, but later ones show Selina Kyle standing on her own. Watch out for the cameo by Lyndon B. Johnson and the one-time headquarters for Catwoman, the Catacomb.


  1. I was wandering the library shelves with my daughter this weekend and happened upon Brubaker’s Catwoman purely by chance. I remembered it getting some praise many moons ago, so I picked up and had a great afternoon plowing through it. The rest of the volumes are on their way to me now. He didn’t get to be an industry big shot by accident.

    (The Gotham Central guest stars didn’t hurt, either.)

  2. There’s also a Brubaker/Cooke Catwoman omnibus (softcover) headed our way in early 2012.

  3. That one page from Hush.

  4. Those Brubaker/Cooke issues of Catwoman are some of my favorites. As I recall, that may have been the book I most looked forward to coming out. Slam Bradley is that great example of the tough as nails detective with the heart of gold that makes noir stories fun.

  5. Wait, wasn’t the reboot supposed to make this question moot? Start with the new #1 and don’t worry about previous continuity! Oh, wait, that’s right, Batman gets to keep his history.

  6. Starks from Selina’s Big Score is totally Parker in his late 50’s. He even looks like Lee Marvin. He also shows up in “Deja Vu”, Cooke’s remake of “Night of the Stalker” which is awesome sauce.

  7. Also calling Selina’s home base “the Catacomb” is either very genius or vastly retarded. Or both.

  8. think i’ve like every version of Catwoman. Jim Lee’s is my favorite. I like the short hair

  9. i would say Batman Year One is also a good place to start with Catwoman.

  10. Brubakers run on Catwoman is definitely the best work anyone has ever done on the character. And while I love Cooke, his Big Score story just seemed flat and did nothing but provide lay seeds for what Brubaker had already done BEFORE, its definitely his weakest work by far.

  11. I agree with everyone else’s priase for the Brubaker’s run on Catwoman as first rate, and that the inclusion of Slam was wonderful. Overall, I think that Selina has a well-developed supporting cast around her. I would also add that I was a big fan of the team Pfiefer/Lopez later in the series. I’m really hoping that the new Catwoman book will be great once again . . .

  12. Surprised not to see Batman Year One on this list. It seems to me it was a quintessential and inspiring expression of the character. Selena Kyle really was the sheroine of that mini.