Catwoman and her costume have gone through many transformations during the character's history at DC — from villain to vigilante, from thief to wife, and from vixen to mother.
In the two-issue Convergence: Catwoman by writer Justin Gray, readers are getting the chance to revisit the purple-clad, early-'90s Catwoman — and the domed cities of the DC event will force her to fight Kingdom Come Batman.
In our latest discussion with the authors behind the Convergence tie-in series, Newsarama spoke with Gray to find out more about his approach to this Convergence mix of Catwoman versus Batman.
Newsarama: Justin, we've already talked a little about your story for Convergence: Action Comics, but what's your approach to Catwoman for Convergence: Catwoman?
Justin Gray: I’m not sure if people are aware of the basic premise, but we’re collectively revisiting certain eras in these characters' lives and with Catwoman, I’m going back to the early '90s. Catwoman is the thief with a heart of gold and a purple cat suit.
Nrama: Where do we pick up her story under the dome?
Gray: Because I wasn’t sure how much information about Convergence would be available going into the story, I thought it would be a good idea to open before the dome and move forward from there. I want people to be able to read Catwoman even if it is the only Convergence book they elect to pick up.
Nrama: What's this Catwoman like? And what's unique about her experiences and about this time period that's influenced your portrayal of her?
Gray: Realizing this Catwoman is not the most recent incarnation doesn’t subtract from the character’s appeal. In fact she’s an iconic figure regardless of what era she’s viewed in, so I only took that into account for how she is represented.
That said, I had some fun with the time period.
Nrama: What's the setting under the dome like and how does it affect Catwoman?
Gray: It is a radical shift in her perception of the world and who she is. Trapped under the dome, a lot of things have changed, and stealing jewels becomes largely irrelevant.
Instead I looked at who she was and how she might evolve from the characterization Jo Duffy introduced. I wanted the story to have a lot of action and keep it very grounded in who Catwoman is and what she’s capable of.
Nrama: Why do you think Catwoman is so often pulled toward doing good? What is it about this villain that makes her so often open to that type of switch?
Gray: In this particular case, I think her choice to become a vigilante is a logical one. For a long time Catwoman has leaned toward helping the less fortunate. She tends to represent a spectrum of male perspective representations of femininity and characterization. What I mean by that is she’s portrayed as sexy and aloof or motherly, which are trademarks of male perception of female super heroines. The idea of a bad girl doing good things can be very appealing, or a bad girl who needs a man to save or correct her wrong ways. There’s that Film Noir vibe that’s always been at the root of the Batman universe. There’s also that dynamic of a woman who can be both vixen and mother that often surfaces in pop culture, but it happens a lot with Catwoman.
Nrama: Who else might we see in the comic? Does she have any sidekicks or friends/enemies or supporting cast under the dome?
Gray: This is largely her book; there’s no real need to bring in a back-up cast. For one thing there isn’t a lot of room in the story for it.
Nrama: That's true — you only have two issues. Let's talk about what happens when the Kingdom Come characters become entangled with the folks in this dome. Which Kingdom Come character did you pick to go up against Catwoman?
Gray: The logical answer is always going to be Batman. They have a unique relationship across the gamut of styles and eras.
I also wanted the conflict to have more than one layer to it. With Batman and Catwoman, there’s always going to be some variation of personal history involved.
Nrama: Surely Kingdom Come Batman is much more experienced and powerful than Catwoman… isn't he?
Gray: It doesn’t matter how big and strong your opponent is. I think Mister Miyagi said that.
Nrama: Like you said, there are layers to this relationship. But what's Catwoman's history with Batman at this point, in the era you're writing, and how does that influence her approach to fighting Kingdom Come Batman?
Gray: I have to credit Frank Tieri with part of it because we were talking about the characters and he mentioned that we never really knew what happened between Kingdom Come Batman and Kingdom Come Catwoman, but she ultimately sits at the table with Lex and the others. To that end it seemed logical that the two would hate each other. Therefore when Kingdom Come Batman meets '90s Catwoman (a sentence you can only write in comics) there is uncertainty and drama.
Nrama: Anything you can tease about their confrontation?
Gray: It takes an unexpected turn.
Nrama: What's it been like working with Ron Randall?
Gray: It's been great. Ron is a professional dedicated to his craft who brought everything and more to the story. He did a lot of heavy lifting and I think, based on the beautiful work he did, that he enjoyed it.
Nrama: How did you end up writing this story? Was this a pitch, characters you picked, or something DC suggested?
Gray: It was a mash up of a lot of things, circumstances and happenings where in the end, DC said Catwoman and I said great! I love Catwoman.
Nrama: You do? What's your history with Catwoman? Any stories you remember as influences on your portrayal of her?
Gray: I’ve always enjoyed the character as a foil to Batman and later as her own woman. The Loeb, Sale, Brubaker, Darwyn Cooke stories are some of my favorites, and to be honest, I loved playing her avatar’s storyline in the Arkham game.
Nrama: Then to finish up, is there anything else you want to tell fans about Convergence: Catwoman?
Gray: I just hope they give it a read and enjoy the story and portrayal of Catwoman, because it was a joy to write.