Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale is the second in the DC Ink series of graphic novels. Written by Lauren Myracle and illustrated by Isaac Goodhart, the book is a reimagined origin story of Selina Kyle, whom most know as Catwoman, one of Gotham City’s most infamous antiheroes. (You can read more about the book in our Book Breakdown, and make sure to check out our interview with Myracle.)
Under the Moon is a powerful portrayal of a young woman with a brutal home life and a childhood that would turn the best of us toward a life of crime. Myracle’s Selina is far from a stereotype, however. Perhaps the most nuanced aspects of Under the Moon are the various things that get through Selina’s rough exterior—even when she doesn’t want them to. (Girl’s got a huge heart, regardless of how hard she tries to hide it.)
One of those things in particular happens to be named Bruce Wayne.
Now, most of us know Bruce—or, at least, we think we do. He’s a billionaire. He’s a playboy. He. Is. Batman. He’s a human who can hold his own fighting alongside superhumans, goddesses and aliens. His superior intelligence and genius-level ingenuity give him an edge in a world that’s filled with the unbelievable. But he, too, was once a young man, with all the worries and stresses that come with being a teen.
At the start of Under the Moon, Bruce is Selina’s ex-friend. The two had a friendship when they were little, even if they were very different people. (Bruce was a nerd. And Selina, well…Selina didn’t much appreciate being talked down to.) But as teenagers, they’ve drifted far apart, and Selina absolutely doesn’t notice him and his glorious, shiny hair, which “is as dark as the night, as glossy as the wings of a crow.” He’s the Big Man on the Gotham High campus, and all the ladies—and likely more than a handful of the guys—swoon over him on the reg. He’s got nice clothes and probably smells like a breeze blowing off a secluded mountain lake. (Side note: YA guys always smell like something super appealing and wholly unrealistic.)
Honestly, I can’t blame Selina for her “non-interest” in Bruce. Sure, he’s attractive, suave and rich—all traits which he continues to use to his advantage well into his adult years. But for Selina (and me), his appeal is less about his outward appearance and personality, and more about what lies underneath.
Eventually, Selina and Bruce have an interaction during which Selina expresses her hurt at Bruce having essentially ghosted her. He opens up in return, revealing his deep pain over his parents’ death, and the fact that he shut himself off from everyone, not just Selina. His vulnerability rackets his appeal up a whole handful of notches, and his willingness to share that hurt and pain shows that he has layers.
Later, Selina tells a new friend about Bruce, and how he was a hero even when little (though way less suave). Again, it’s Bruce’s inner character, his genuine need to stick up for the people he cares about, even if that means putting himself in harm’s way, that stands out and has stuck with Selina through the years. And when Selina has yet another run-in with the guy who eventually becomes the Dark Knight, this time through a situation that’s not entirely on the up-and-up, Bruce is more concerned with her well-being than material things. His overwhelming need to help and protect vastly outweighs his sense of self-preservation. (This is evident in many later Batman incarnations, too. He is Gotham’s protector, after all.)
Myracle never pushes the love interest idea too hard in Under the Moon, but it’s obvious to see why Selina and Bruce continue to have a connection throughout their lives and throughout their various comic and pop culture incarnations. He’s a man with many secrets, but Selina’s one of the few people who knows the Bruce behind the facade. She knows that the billionaire playboy superhero has a soft side and does what he does for others, not to make himself feel powerful or important. And those are the qualities, above all, that make him daydream material.
Plus, the Bruce in Under the Moon curses, and there’s a level of bad boy-ness to this that really does something for me. Seeing such a buttoned-up, rule-following character seemingly lose that little bit of control is, well...*fans self*
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.