In Under the Moon, Lauren Myracle and Isaac Goodhart imagine a new backstory for one of DC’s most beloved morally gray characters, Selina Kyle. Unlike other Catwoman origin stories that occasionally veer into magical realism, Under the Moon finds Selina’s feet planted firmly in the real world, even when they’re not literally planted—parkour features heavily in the book and explains a lot about Selina’s eventual cat-like skills. Also featured: a familiar orphaned teenage billionaire named Bruce Wayne who wants nothing more than to help Selina with her issues, regardless of whether she wants him to or not. (Seems like a familiar dynamic, doesn’t it?)
Let’s break it down!
There’s something kind of old fashioned about the cover of Under the Moon, and although the story inside is dark, the image of Selina (and a cat) staring at the moon, sitting high above Gotham, is a hopeful one. It’s a good bit of foreshadowing for both Selina’s future and the story itself.
Additionally, Selina’s pose—and her flowing hair—is a lot more casual than one might expect from a Catwoman story. Typically, you see her poised and posed (and cat-suited). This ties in nicely with the younger, less jaded Selina we meet in Under the Moon, and makes her character easier to connect with for those of us who’ve maybe been a teenage girl (or boy or nonbinary youth), but never a Gotham City super-villain.
Tell Me a Story:
Selina Kyle’s home isn’t where her heart is. Instead, it’s a place she sleeps while trying to avoid her mother’s many deadbeat boyfriends. Especially Dernell, the absolute worst of the bunch, and—unfortunately—the one who’s stuck around longest. After an incident reminiscent of THAT scene from John Wick, Selina finally runs away, living on the streets with little but her snark to keep her warm at night. Eventually, she meets Ojo, another street kid who introduces Selina to parkour and his found family, including a little girl named Rosie who might be even more damaged than Selina is. But Ojo and his family aren’t solely interested in jumping from dangerous heights and surviving—they’re also interested in stealing a near priceless book and selling it to the highest bidder.
Let’s Talk Art:
With his use of blues and blacks and occasional sound effects punctuated in a very moon-like light yellow, artist Isaac Goodhart gives Under the Moon a moody feel that’s perfect for this sometimes harshly realistic Catwoman origin story. Even when the action takes place in the daytime, the use of the dark colors evokes a somber melancholy—perfect for the way Selina feels for much of the book. (It also invokes night, which is when a cat burglar does her best work...)
Goodhart only breaks from the blue and black palette in a few flashback or daydream panels, then turning instead to shades of purple. It keeps with the moody theme nicely, but definitely makes it clear that these events are out of time.
The Selina Kyle most know as Catwoman is an antihero who exudes confidence and charm. The Selina Kyle of Under the Moon is, however, very much a teenage girl. She’s well-spoken and street smart, but she’s a teenage girl nonetheless—with self-confidence issues, boy troubles, and a home life that would drive anyone to a life of crime. Lauren Myracle gives pre-Catwoman Selina a naivety and softness that makes it easy to root for her, even while realizing that she’ll one day grow into a character who’s more likely to act like Robin Hood than Robin the Boy Wonder. Myracle deftly lays the groundwork for Selina Kyle’s eventual transition to a gray character who some might see as a villain, while the author’s portrayal of Selina’s childhood makes her a sympathetic character, even with the stealing and bending the rules we all know is to come.
Most Crushworthy Character:
If you paid close attention early on in this Book Breakdown, Reader, you might be wondering how Bruce Wayne comes into play in Under the Moon. Bruce is Selina’s childhood friend who drifted away from Selina as the two got older. Selina sees him around school, but neither gives each other the time of day, and Selina definitely doesn’t notice his glossy black hair.
For me, the appeal of playboy adult Bruce Wayne has always been in his suavity and self-confidence, and although teenage Bruce has both, it’s his vulnerability that makes this iteration super appealing. That and his stubborn need to help Selina, even when she throws his good intentions back into his face. (The fact that he curses also does something for me, but that’s not a topic we need to investigate here.)
Most Embarrassing Moment:
The day after Selina leaves home for good, she goes to school like nothing’s happened...even though she spent the night sleeping in an alley, under the cover of some ratty cardboard. When she gets to school, she tries to play it off like nothing’s the matter, but then she finds A ROACH in her hair. It’s dead—THANK GOODNESS—but it gave me a massive case of the heebie jeebies for the entire rest of the book. I’m really not a giant bug person.
What Would You Most Like to Ask?
If I had the opportunity to ask Selina one question now that I’ve finished Under the Moon, it would have to be: What are your plans for getting back at Dernell? Vicious, sure, but that guy’s the absolute worst, and he definitely deserves a little righteous comeuppance. It might take her a while, but I really hope Selina comes up with a diabolical plan to make him feel the same kind of mental anguish that he put her through. (We all know Catwoman’s really good at that sort of thing.) I want to know how it’s gonna go down!
When Mandy Curtis isn’t reading books by Leigh Bardugo or Sarah J. Maas, she’s dreaming of busting bad guys with Wonder Woman—if Steve Trevor’s there, too, she won’t complain—and writing about YA fiction and pop culture at Forever Young Adult. Follow her on Twitter at @mandyannecurtis.
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