Selina Kyle is on the prowl once more in DC Comics’ “Catwoman,” penned by writer Judd Winick and drawn by “Gotham City Sirens” cover artist Guillem March. Taking Selina back to her cat burglar roots, the new series is due out in September, one of the 52 titles being relaunched by DC. While recent comics continuity has cast Selina as a good guy sticking to the straight and narrow, the new “Catwoman” series puts the character squarely back on the wrong side of the law, similar to the 1993 “Catwoman” series, which featured the talents of artist Jim Balent.
A gleeful Winick was more than happy to talk to CBR News about his new comic book series, professing his love for the character in all her criminal glory. Below, Winick dishes out the details on his version of Catwoman, the Batman/Catwoman relationship, and what fans should expect from Selina Kyle’s Gotham.
CBR News: All right, Judd, not only are you writing the brand new “Batwing” series, you are also the writer for the new “Catwoman” series.” This is a busy time for you!
Judd Winick: Oh yeah! I’ve got two very, very different books here; with “Batwing” there’s been a lot of research and thought, testing it out and figuring out where it’s going to go. “Catwoman,” on the other hand, I just jumped in there and started running! [Laughs] She’s a character I’ve never had the chance to do at all, to be honest. I don’t think I’ve written her in any way in anything I’ve ever done. Maybe I’m forgetting something but I don’t remember ever putting her in a comic, and it’s a character that I love. She’s a very, very mainstream character folks are very aware of, so I’m trying to take advantage of that. I’m concentrating on the aspects people know and I’m running with it. This is a fun, over the top, sexy, edgy, violent comic, which was part of the discussion. It’s everything Catwoman is supposed to be.
Even from the first cover image of Selina lounging on the Gotham skyline, it’s apparent you guys are going for a much sexier, sleeker tone.
The best way I can describe it is that it’s going to be a lot of dark fun. Again, it’s pretty damn violent! I won’t lie to you, there’s some pretty tough stuff going on there. But she’s a very, very particular character, which we are allowed to go many places with. As far as women characters in the DCU, she’s not Wonder Woman and she’s not Supergirl. She’s someone who is very aware of her sexuality, and we’re letting her stay aware of it! [Laughs] On top of that is the fact that’s she’s not actually a superhero, nor is she a bad guy. She’s a thief. She steals things. As we said in some of the copy floating around, she’s addicted to danger. She’s addicted to spontaneity. When she steals, she steals for the thrill of it. She doesn’t steal so she can sock the money away and one day wind up on some tropical island retired. She blows through the money pretty quickly; she can’t help herself, that’s who she is.
She’s also quite brilliant. She’s not ripping off liquor stores, she’s smart. There’s a little bit of [an] “Ocean’s 11” bent to this. She is not unlike a detective who has to do a bit of research, a bit of recon, she’s got to find out where she’s going and how and what tools she needs to have so she can get in and steal the thing she needs to steal. Along the way some people will get in her way that might deserve a little something, so that’s become the anti-hero aspect.
Is this series getting back to her roots as a morally ambiguous cat burglar and thief?
Oh yeah. She steals things! The gray line for her is day in and day out she’s thinking about stealing things. That’s what she likes. That, if you pardon the expression, is what she gets off on. So we are getting back to her core roots as Catwoman the cat burglar.
There have been so many different versions of Catwoman over the years, are you pulling from a specific era of Catwoman for the comic or are you pulling parts from every era?
I’d say it’s a little bit of everything, but most importantly it feels modern. I’m striving for keeping it really real, and less technology. I don’t think you’ll ever see Selena pull something out of her belt and do a scan of the entire building in an instant and whatnot. It’s more hammer and nails, it’s a little more low-tech which is, we feel, a little more interesting for the character. It’s not about her being a computer whiz and finding this out — if she’s breaking in someplace she going to cut through a window and crawl through a vent because that is, for me, more interesting than her doing things with lasers and infra-red schematics. It should be fun! I think in general DC Comics and all comics have gotten a little too darn high-tech. Somebody can pull something off their belt and do anything, and that’s no fun. It’s too easy. So I guess what I’m saying is I want to make it hard for us. It makes the story better to challenge ourselves that way.
I think it’s safe to assume this amoral Selina is going to come into direct conflict with Batman and some of the other Gotham villains?
Oh yeah! [Laughs] Boy howdy, yes!
Do you think making Selina more dangerous and more amoral brings the Batman/Catwoman relationship away from just being lovers and back to that antagonistic relationship they originally had in the comics?
Yeah, I think from Selina’s perspective, if you are a thief the dumbest thing you can do is be involved with Batman in any way shape or form, and there she is. I think Batman and Catwoman make for a very interesting pairing, let’s say.
What is Selina Kyle’s Gotham like, and how does it differ from Bruce Wayne’s Gotham or the Gotham presented in some of the other relaunched Bat books?
Think of it like this: it’s one person’s perspective of what it’s like to live in New York City to another’s. Batman is a billionaire who fights crime. Selina is pretty much routinely, on a regular basis, dead broke and sleeping where she can break into or establish herself, and steals things. She doesn’t associate with cops or superheroes; she is not trying to fight crime or chase down bad guys. Hers is a much smaller and — not more dangerous, but a different level of danger — than Batman’s world. They will both go looking for trouble, I’ll say that’s where the similarity is the greatest.
The words reboot and relaunch have been thrown around a lot as some titles retain their creative teams and some seem to be getting new continuity. Does this “Catwoman” comic erase parts of her continuity, such as palling around with the “Gotham City Sirens” and being a good guy?
There’s been a lot of discussion and worry about this, about what used to be as opposed to what is. I don’t think I’m erasing much of anything. That said, Catwoman is still Selina Kyle and she still puts on this cat suit and she steals things. Beyond that, how she got here, what she’s done before is less of a concern than the stories we are telling right now. But I don’t think anyone is going to read, not just mine but any of the books, and truly feel like we’re undoing everything. That’s not what we are trying to do. We’re trying to move forward and it isn’t a reboot. It’s a first take on everything. Some things have been rejiggered and some things have been re-clarified as we go through; some things will be eliminated, but for the most part I don’t think anyone is going to come in and say, “Oh no, it’s a whole different thing!” Selina is not 50 years old and blonde and living in Russia and an alien — she’s Selina Kyle. She’s Catwoman, she’s stealing things in Gotham City. Again, I don’t think anyone will feel that we’re taking a big departure from what was. And not just me, for any of the books.
What has it been like working with artist Guillem March?
Awesome! He’s great! He is a really sensational artist. The work is vibrant, the acting is phenomenal, he draws sexy people all the way around and he also draws really terrific ugly people. For me the mark of a good artist is that it doesn’t look like every single person in the comic has spent seven months working out in the gym — make people look like regular people, and the ones who don’t need to look like regular people certainly do not look like regular people. The action pops and the acting pops, which is very important to me. He gets it and is simply doing the best work of his career. And we’ve got Ben Oliver over on “Batwing,” and Ben’s stuff looks crazy great too. I invite everybody to go see the stuff he’s done. He’s done a lot of stuff for Marvel and now he’s on our side of the street, but he really has a stunning realistic style and approach. He can really draw. With both of them it’s a real, real treat to know your words are going to pop up on paper with these guys drawing it.
Because Guillem has been drawing Gotham and Catwoman on “Gotham City Sirens” for such a long time, did you guys have a lot of conversations about the specifics of how you wanted the character to look and act?
There isn’t anything that wasn’t talked about! [Laughs] There isn’t anything that hasn’t been talked about at DC Comics a whole lot, more so than ever before. So, yeah! We talked about everything from costume to hairstyle to shape of people’s heads, everything, you name it! Everybody is rolling up their sleeves and doing the absolute level best they can. When it comes to talking to the artist, what I’ve always done is lay my scripts out like letters to the artists. I’m talking directly to them, trying to translate everything in my head so they can get it out on the page. Once we get to know each other better it becomes a matter of saying, “OK he knows what I’m talking about when I talk about this.” Its always a constant education, it’s a big thrill to work with these guys.
To wrap it up, anything you want to say directly to the fans?
I don’t think anyone at DC has worked this hard on DC comics, ever. We’ve simply been given the marching orders to make the best comics of our entire lives. That’s all, and nothing less. [Laughs] The truth is that we’re hoping nothing less is coming out, that we’re all delivering the goods. So be patient and keep in mind that nobody wants this to be good more than us. We’re hoping that when the books are out in September you will be beyond satisfied, you’ll be thrilled like we all are!
“Catwoman” #1 breaks into stores this September.