JLA Profiles: CATWOMAN Brings Villainous Slant To Team

exclusive art from

Catwoman #17

Among the lesser-known heroes in the new Justice League of America is one character that's practically a household name: Catwoman.

"I think if you grabbed 100 people on the street and asked them about Catwoman, they'd not only have heard of her, but they could probably tell you a lot about her," said Judd Winick, who launched the character's new title in 2011.

Yet when DC created its "New 52" universe, Catwoman got a revamp, giving her a new origin and starting her over as a younger, more inexperienced thief.

Over the next few weeks until Geoff Johns and David Finch kick off Justice League of America on Feb. 20th, Newsarama is spotlighting the heroes who make up this "other" Justice League. Who are these characters? Where did they come from? And what's their story within the JLA?

As we turn the spotlight on Catwoman, we talked to Johns, Winick and Finch about the character, as well as current Catwoman writer Ann Nocenti , to get the story behind this character and her role in the DCU of the New 52.

The Basics

Catwoman's real name is Selina Kyle, and she's currently an acrobatic and cunning cat burglar operating out of Gotham City. "She's a thief. She lives a sort of migrant, nomadic existence throughout Gotham City. Sometimes she has to go where things take her. She's hand-to-mouth in the sense that she'll steal a bunch of stuff, the blow through the money and have to find more," Winick said.

exclusive art from

Catwoman #17

An orphan, Selina was raised in various foster homes and ended up in a group home where she was taught to steal. She grew to love the shiny things she was taking, as they comforted her when she was sad.

After a few mishaps as a young thief, Selina was recruited to be part of a "Second Chance" job program that gave her a position in the mayor's office. After a year in that job, she decided to use the computer system to find her alleged long-lost brother, but she instead found out the Second Chance program identified her with a Russian name.

When she tried to further investigate her Russian identifier, the computer server crashed and the man who recruited her showed up to kill her. What happened next is much like the origin of the Catwoman character from Batman Returns, because she was thrown off the roof of a building and, after an awning broke her fall, she landed in an alley, surrounded by cats. She used the material from the awning to make her first catsuit.

The Visual

Justice League of America artist Finch told Newsarama he's looking forward to portraying the body movements of Catwoman.

"She's always graceful and confident, and that's very different from, say, Stargirl," he said. "Catwoman is just really, really confident and maybe overly sexual. So she'll have a different stance."

Character Quirks


Launched by Judd Winick and Guillem March in September 2011, the new Catwoman series gave Selina Kyle's series a markedly more sexy look.

"If there's any character who leads with her sexuality, who leads with her sense of self, it's Catwoman," Winick told Newsarama. "But also think intelligent...Being a thief is hard work when you do it right. You've got to plan it out. You have to know where you're going. And Selina's smart."

Her intelligence and skill at stealing is one of the reasons she's recruited to be part of the Justice League of America, according to Johns.

"Catwoman was able to break into A.R.G.U.S.'s Black Room in her book and escape," Johns said. "And they need somebody like that on this team. Catwoman can get anywhere and get out before anyone knows it."

Her book has also established that the character can be a little reckless in her determination to steal. "She is a character who is addicted to danger. That's the key to her character. She's not stealing because she needs the money, and when she steals something, she blows through it really quickly. She enjoys the rush," Winick said.

"I also think she has something that's a little bit more like kleptomania, you know?" Nocenti said. "It's the compulsion to snatch something when you already have lots, and it's a really strange compulsion."

Catwoman also has an established relationship with Batman. The two had a sexual relationship when the New 52 was first launched, but have cooled it more recently.

Team Role


And although her thievery usually has her playing villain, the character sometimes plays the role of hero, particularly when lives are endangered. In fact, during the Catwoman "Death of the Family" tie-in issues, she hurried to save the lives of some innocents who were targeted by The Joker (something for which he ridiculed her).

Why she's on a heroic team like Justice League of America isn't clear yet, but Johns has said that it's because Steve Trevor has something she wants, "and it’s not at all what you’d expect. It’s not a big diamond, it’s not a get out of jail free card, it’s something she’s been searching for that’s going to lead to a whole exploration of a side of Selina Kyle we haven’t yet seen," Johns said.

"There's a very strategic reason Catwoman is on the team. And she's somebody that doesn't want to be a part of this team. Obviously Catwoman wouldn't want to be part of the JLA," Johns said. "But there's something that's offered to her that reveals a little bit more about her that makes her decide to agree to this.

"She is not in the public spotlight for the team. She's a member that's off to the side. Yet she's actually the most integral character to the first arc of the series," he said.

Johns was asked by a fan at New York Comic Con whether the addition of villainous characters like Catwoman and the new Green Lantern will cause the Justice League teams to splinter, to which Johns simply replied, “I think you’re right on track with that.”

Check back with Newsarama during the next few weeks until the launch of Justice League of America on Feb. 20th for more character profiles from the JLA team.

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