Let’s Call Her ‘CatGirl’.

Under The Moon 1

Lauren Myracle’s Under The Moon – A Catwoman Tale from last Spring was positioned as a YA graphic novel, and certainly speaks to that audience, but just as surely can be enjoyed by us grown-ups. As much as I revere the man in the cape and cowl, the Bat-Universe’s most intriguing characters clearly have been revealed to be the women of Gotham City, whether in the comics themselves, on film or the small screen.

Beautifully illustrated in a fluidly drawn black/grey/blue duotone style by Isaac Goodhart (Postal, etc.) Under The Moon’s book-length tale tells an alternate origin story for Selina Kyle, here a high school student living with an inattentive single mother’s horrible succession of increasingly abusive boyfriends, the current one a violent, sadistic drunk. A loner by nature, Selina finds little solace at school where a bestie-wannabe is a little too clingy and childhood playmate Bruce Wayne seems lost in his own world. Selina flees, living by her wits on the streets till she hooks up with a trio of misfit runaways and becomes embroiled in a high-stakes heist…at Wayne Manor no less.

Under The Moon 4

Myracle’s story is a poignant and plausible alternate vision for Selina Kyle/Catwoman’s origin (make that ‘CatGirl here) and the building blocks of a pre-Batman and pre-Catwoman relationship are smartly put in place. When released, this title came with retailer warnings about rough language and edgy content, and that’s in there, all right, but it never felt forced and only the most close-minded could object. A (I suppose) necessary subplot about a grisly Gotham City serial killer seemed intrusive, but with everything else done so well, I even went along with that.  I mean, how can you not fall in love with a hoodie with cat ears as the beginnings of an iconic costume?

Under The Moon 3

I grabbed this one at the library when I popped in to pick up a reserved book, and blew through it over a Saturday afternoon coffee break (a break that went a little longer than planned. Okay…a break that went way longer than planned). If Myracle and Goodhart have a sequel up their sleeve, I’m in. More CatGirl for me, please!

Under The Moon 5

Mario’s Mara & Bruce

mara corday by mario chavez

Actress, showgirl and model Mara Corday above (who I believe is still with us at age 89, and who I got to see being both fetching and wicked in an old 1959 Peter Gunn episode rerun Saturday night ) and below, Bruce Wayne by artist and illustrator Mario Chavez. Sorry, but the rather prominent ‘gams’ Wayne’s ogling aren’t actually identified by the artist.

bruce wayne by mario chavez

The Dark Knight At 80.

Detective Comics No. 27

I think today’s the day. March 30th. Eighty years ago, Detective Comics No. 27 introduced the world to the Bat-man with the May 1939 issue, released at the end of March. Not that I was around then, of course. You either, I assume.

A Bat!

Still, Batman was my introduction to comics, and I was immediately hooked. No superpowers, magic rings or intergalactic hijinks. Still a fellow in a cape and tights, but a driven, dark, vengeful fellow, born from unspeakable tragedy. The character’s gone through many different evolutions, from downright silly periods in the 1950’s to the campy mid-60’s ABC television series, then reimagined some years later in a homage to Bruce Wayne/Batman’s original roots, though driven still deeper and darker.

Used bookstore shrink-wrapped bundles of older late 60’s-early 70’s era Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams stand-alone story issues were what really lured me in, and even if they were already dated, the lonely detective-warrior of that era got to me. Still does. Time-Warner-DC marketing mavens turned everything into ‘events’ at some point in the late 80’s and early 90’s, with instant collectible alternate covers, mini-series, spinoff’s and other manipulative nonsense.  And now I enjoy other denizens of Gotham City a bit more — Selina Kyle/Catwoman and various incarnations of Batgirl – when I buy superhero comics at all.

But it’ll always be The Batman for me, ‘cuz that’s where comics first hooked me, and there’s just no suitable way to thank Bob Kane and Bill Finger, then Neal Adams, Jim Aparo, Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino, Frank Miller, Irv Novick, Denny O’Neil, Jerry Robinson, Marshall Rogers, Dick Sprang, Bruce Timm and so many other writers and artists for eighty years of dark and brooding thrills with The Dark Knight.

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