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Hello, I became a huge fan of Cat-Tales before I'd really read any batman comics and I adore your portrayal of catwoman. My problem is that any list or collection of Batman comics for newcomers to read seems to start with Batman: Year One, closely followed by Catwoman: year one. I did try to read them, but their Catwoman didn't compare at all to the one you wrote. I wondered if you could recommend any comics or arcs where Catwoman is more like your Catwoman? Thank you.
Thank you for the kind words about the Cat-Tales Selina. There are a number of comics where you can find her antecedents.
Most strikingly, the Doug Moench run immediately before and after Crisis on Infinite Earths is first rate. It begins somewhere in the Batman 389/Detective Comics 556 area and goes back and forth between the two titles. You’ll meet the models for the drama queens of all time, Natasha/Nocturna and Anton “looks rather like a potato” Thief of the Night. You will have to put up with the original Jason Todd (and you’ll see why so many of us paid 99-cents a minute to have the whiny little pest bumped off). The story really peaks in Batman 392: A Night on the Town, and there’s a nice few stories that follow with them working together after that. Then “Crisis” kicked in. You will, regrettably, see the point where editorial meddling clearly took the Bat/Cat relationship out of Doug’s hands. You can feel his frustration, as when Selina actually says on panel that she is behaving out of character. However, you can pretty much see how that pre-Crisis relationship should have progressed in
The Nail by Alan Davis. The word here is Quality, not Quantity. This is a DCU story, not a Batman or Gotham story, so Bruce and Selina’s role isn’t that large. I don’t care. Here we have their relationship as it should be. It’s perfect and it’s powerful. (Aftermath is touched on in String Theory)
You can also get more of Doug’s Selina in Catwoman* #38 – 40 Even though it has that sad Year One hanging over it, you can see that Doug Moench always went as far as he could giving us a Selina we could relate to and admire, within the constraints of the editorial mandates hanging over him. Since you mention Cat-Tales, those issues will give you the foundation for Alfred’s early take on the Bat/Cat relationship (Normal, Do No Harm) as well as events referenced in Armchair Detective and Trophies.
For Elseworlds with more than a little of a Cat-Tales-esque Selina, check out Batman: The Last Angel. Despite the title, which is about as misleading as it can be, it’s a Catwoman story involving a Pre-Columbian mask of a Bat-God. She is a superb thief, as she should be, informed and educated, as she should be. And the dynamic with Bruce and Batman is such that it will leave you wishing there was more to come in this continuity.
Also Leatherwing by Chuck Dixon, it is a fantastic pirate adventure that is exactly what an Elseworld should be: It’s Batman, it’s Catwoman, the essence of what makes them what they are is there, but it’s 19th Century pirate ships. There is a sequel, Bride of Leatherwing. Also pretty good, but I think it was a back up in a Batman Chronicles or something. I wouldn’t have any idea how to locate it. (Leatherwing was a ‘Tec Annual sold with that title, so it shouldn’t be hard to find.
Speaking of Cat-Tales influences, World’s Finest: Year 8 by Karl Kesel I think I have referenced this more often than any other story in comics. Catwoman robbing LexCorp, Batman happens to be in town, Lois is on the scene, zany hijinx ensue.
Also Photo Finish and Desire by Devin Grayson. This is a case of Less is More. Both are one-shots. Desire is a dialogue-less series of vignettes. Catwoman appears in both but isn’t a major character. But they pick up on something more nuanced than the big brassy Catwoman-centric comics did. One was in Batman Chronicles 9 and the other was a Batman 80-Page Giant No 1 from Aug 98 but I don’t know which is which.
Catwoman* # 63-65 to see what Selina was talking about waaaay back in Reputation about the last time Joker spoke to her and why he was so pissed. It’s also referenced in Wayne Rises.
Catwoman* #77 Disregard the way she speaks to Batman and make allowances for dialogue like “Payback is a witch.” Look on it instead as a case study in why you should never, ever cross someone smarter and more resourceful than you. Because payback is not a witch, it is an art, and the lady is an artist. Meow.
Batman 339ish – While Selina herself is not involved, if you’re interested in reading the episode referenced in Blueprints where Ivy greened the Wayne Foundation Board, it begins, I think, in Batman 339. I don’t know off-hand when it resolved. (As a matter of Cat-centric interest, the one way Selina is referenced in this story, Ivy approaches Bruce in disguise, her disguise is almost identical to the way Selina was always drawn in a previous arc where Bruce was dating her. Best way to approach him and kiss him before he can stop you…)
Detective 27 – This is an Elseworld, sort of a Ragtime thing, working in as much historical detail as it can. As I recall, there is nothing wrong with the depiction of Selina and Catwoman, which at the time was the best we could do. It’s not a bad story, just not particularly memorable.
Hitman: Ace of Killers – There is a gun that kills demons, so Hitman, Jason Blood and Etrigan are all involved, and seeing that interaction is the chief attraction here. I’ll be honest, Selina is not as smart as she should be in this, but if you can read Year One, you can certainly overlook her describing the smell of sulfur as that stuff from high school chemistry and not knowing its association with demons. (Now, full disclosure, there isn’t any Batman, so if Bat/Cat is your only interest, give it a pass. I personally think Tommy and Jason are fun, and it’s nice to have her interacting with men who are not romantic prospects and know it.)
Terror by Doug Moench. Again, as a general rule, if it’s Doug Moench, it is going to treat Selina and the Bruce/Selina relationship as well as it can given the editorial constraints and the climate of the time. I think Doug always did the best he could, but too often after Crisis on Infinite Earths, it wasn’t good enough. Terror is the sequel to Prey, which was written a little too close to Year One when the grittiness was their new toy. It’s not a good depiction of Selina, but it’s not offensive, which at that time was the best we could get.
*Since you’re asking me, it’s probably obvious that all the Catwoman comics I would cite are the series with the purple-costume which ran 1993-2001 and, up until a few months ago, was called Volume I. Now somebody has changed the nomenclature calling that series “Volume II.” I’m not suggesting anyone is deliberately trying to create confusion, because that would be the act of one who knows they’ve backed a loser and needs to keep the waters muddy as long as they can.