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If Selina Kyle went to your high school, you'd hate her. She'd be the kind of girl who skipped English class to shoplift at the Gap, and not because she wanted to wear the clothes -- God forbid she'd be caught dead in something so boring -- but because it made her feel kinky.Catwoman

Selina taught you what "kinky" means, and the verb "to slink," and probably "bitch," too, all by example.

And gym class was the worst. While on you, the standard-issue gym shorts bunched up your rear end and the t-shirt drowned your barely-blooming chest, on Selina the shorts perfectly offset her gazelle legs and the t-shirt stretched across her ample, perky bosom. She'd lope past the boys, ignoring them completely, which just drove them crazier. And when she tossed her hair, that brooding, mysterious James Dean-type you'd swooned over for the past two years, even he smiled. Smiled!

God, how you hate her.

Unless, of course, you're a guy. Then you'd sell your T-Bird, your Spiderman collection, and your parent's house just for the chance to clean out her gym locker.

But unless you're from an alternate universe, you probably didn't go to high school with Selina Kyle. Then again, Selina Kyle didn't even go to high school. She grew up in a fractured home in Gotham City; her mother was cold and distant, loving only her myriad cats and her dreams of wealth and luxury. She committed suicide when Selina was young. As Selina grew up, she became more and more aloof like her mother, much to her father's chagrin.

He, an alcoholic, died a few years later, when Selina was twelve. She became a street kid, learning how to steal for her survival. Within a week she was caught and thrown into a home for delinquent girls. But instead of enjoying the safety and guidance a home should provide, she suffered physical and verbal abuse from the women who ran it.

Her life on the streets and in the girls' home drilled two things into Selina: one, she could only trust  herself; two, stealing is the quickest and easiest way to live.

Perhaps because of her destitute childhood, Selina inherited her mother's insatiable taste for wealth and luxury. Theft became her career of choice, and even as a girl in the orphanage, she'd slip out her window at night to hone her beloved gymnastics and speed on the rooftops. After she finally escaped the home (setting the other girls free in the process), she made her living on the streets, stealing full-time.

A close call early on nearly made her reconsider her career choice. She stopped for a time, working instead as a prostitute in Gotham's East End. But even then, she used her, er... unique position to grill her seedy customers for information that would be valuable for heists, which she still pulled in her off-hours.

Selina decided that she shouldn't rely on weapons alone for her work. She trained her body to be a weapon instead, studying kick-boxing under boxing great Ted Grant (Wildcat), and even followed a ninja to his dojo and learned various martial arts there. From the influence of her sensei, Selina began to develop a greater awareness of her own moral principles, including her dislike of hurting innocents and her refusal to kill.

One night, Selina witnessed a mysterious new vigilante called "Batman" flitting over the rooftops. This inspired her to incorporate a costume into her own night-time prowling. She'd always loved cats, feeling an affinity with their solitude and independence. So she became one: Catwoman, cat burglar and Bat-worrier par excellence.

Since then, Catwoman has had some wild adventures in her career as the Feline Fatale -- not just in her criminal exploits, bbut occasionally as one of the "good guys," too. She's been manipulated into missions of mercy by Batman, with whom she shares an on-again, off-again sexual tension; and she has even helped out the Justice League of America, for reasons she keeps close to her chest. But mostly she's a creature of stealth and shadow, like her namesake (and like Batman). She tries to avoid attention, unlike the flashier members of Gotham's Most Wanted, which is why she's so successful.

A few years ago, though, she ran for mayor of New York City as Selina Kyle -- and then, to hide her secret identity when her hand was forced, as Catwoman "killed" Ms. Kyle. And the year 2000 brought a tremendous shock to Miss Kitty and her legion fans: for the first time, Catwoman was caught and thrown in jail. In a sordid plot from which I will spare you the details, Selina went loco, was accused (falsely) of trying to kill Jim Gordon, and lost all fashion sense. After a few months' rest (for the Feline Fatale as well as her readers), Selina returned to her tumble-down roots in Gotham's East End, resolving to pick up the shattered pieces of her identity and forge -- perhaps -- a kindler, gentler Cat.

Still, she's considered the DC world's greatest thief. Certainly she's the most stylish one; Catwoman has a mix of class and edge that comes, no doubt, from her exposure to the heights of snobbery as a jewel thief and the dregs of the streets as a homeless orphan. She's got one of the most fabulous costumes in comics, and just drips sex appeal when she wears it. An adamant loner, she has none of the melancholy that we expect to go along with it. For someone who's had such a tough life, Selina often sports this crazy, gleeful grin, like she's about to swipe someone's Porsche and drive yee-ha across the American Midwest, just for kicks. That's my favourite part about her.

But officially? I don't like Catwoman. I don't have much respect for people -- fictional or no -- who base their lives around getting money any way they can, with scruples optional. Unofficially, I must admit a tremendous fascination with her. Style and edge and independence seem to come so easily to her. And I really wonder what's under that "All I care about is money" surface... what makes her tick? Why is her character so popular, so iconic, with men and women? Is it because she's the ultimate, untameable seductress? Or because we sense there's more to her than meets the eye?

In her devotion to a solitary life, I sense a mystery. And there's nothing I love better than a good mystery -- so long as it is never fully solved. I think Selina would agree that one should always leave a little something in the dark.

Want More Info?

Who wouldn't? Good thing Catwoman has her own newly relaunched series, available anywhere fine comic books are sold! And here are some websites I found fun and useful in my prowling:

  • Catwoman A fun site with oodles of amusement (check out the gallery and the top ten lists) that uses even more purple than this one. Who could ask for anything more?

Catwoman and related characters are copyrighted by DC Comics . I know how much you'd love to be Miss Kitty, but please do not steal anything from this site without my permission . If you want to emulate Catwoman, don a purple catsuit and meow a lot.

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