Lauren Myracle and Isaac Goodhart reimagine an iconic Batman antagonist-slash-love-interest in Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale, and in the process, introduce a completely new origin for the anti-heroine offering an unconventional look at what drove Selina to her life of crime. In a recent interview with Ink Spots, Myracle explained why it was so important for her to respect her audience and not shy away from the harder things in life. It's something that she makes incredibly clear in her take on Catwoman and the experiences that helped a young girl shift into an iconic villainess/unconventional hero.
For those who aren’t deeply familiar with the classic character who originally appeared in Batman #1, she's been everything from a nifty jewel thief to a straight-up hero, and in one universe she even had a daughter with Bruce Wayne. In the often male-dominated world of comic books, it can be hard to get a real handle on the women in their pages, mostly because they weren't written to stick around very long. But with Under the Moon, Myracle and Goodhart present a complex and thoughtful new background for Catwoman.
In the blue-hued world that Goodhart brings to life, Selina is a fierce young girl who, from the very first page, makes one thing clear: her life sucks. They're literally the first words that come out of her mouth and it's nothing less than a statement of intent. It almost acts as a warning for what's about to come. This remarkable creative team is committed to crafting an authentic and sometimes tough to read portrayal of an abusive and neglectful household and the impact that it has on the 14-year-old girl who lives there.
When we see these stories in comics, they aren't usually told from the perspective of the victim but rather the perpetrator. Here, though, we get to see Selina's brutal life with her mother and the selection of abusive men that she introduces into their house. It can be hard to read comics that feature upsetting topics like this. That's why it's good to go into Under the Moon knowing that the beginning of Selina's story is hard, like those of so many real young women who have to face scary things and abusive people, and yet despite that, are still incredible, strong and brilliant.
The book begins with Selina being pinched and hit by her mother's boyfriends. Eventually, Darnel—the one who sticks around the longest—hurts a stray kitten that Selina takes in so badly that it dies. It's this horrible act of violence that sparks the future Catwoman’s choice to finally leave home, a decision that was key to Myracle, who wanted the book's hero to leave the cycle and abusive space on her own terms. It's this freedom that connects Selina to the spirit of the cat that she will become. It's here that her story shifts, with the chapter titles moving from Dark to Light.
From here on out, Selina is on a journey of self-discovery where she gets to redefine her own narrative, from her home to her friends and eventually to a found family that she chooses. Under the Moon is a reminder of the importance of family units that don't fit our usual idea of what that constitutes. Here, Selina finds that family in her group of friends, as well as a mission to protect young people so that they don't get hurt the same way that she has been. It's a powerful message and one that gives a thoughtful edge to Selina's anti-heroism.
The key thing here, though, is that Selina isn't strong because of the abuse that happened to her, but in spite of it. It's her strength, spirit and resilience that get her through and make her the heroine that she comes to be. You don't have to experience something horrific to be a hero, that's just what happened to Selina. Although we go on that journey with her, readers also get to see her triumph as she crafts a new life away from the people who hurt her.
Rosie Knight adores the whole DC superhero roster but her absolute favorite is Swamp Thing. When she's not poring over a comic, you can find her reading YA books by her favorite authors like L.L. McKinney and Justina Ireland! Look for Rosie on Twitter @rosiemarx and find more of her work at rosieknight.journoportfolio.com.