WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Catwoman #16, by Joelle Jones, Laura Allred and Saida Temofonte, on sale now.
Across her entire history, Selina Kyle has straddled the line between hero and villain, serving as a clear moral gray streak in Batman's often starkly black and white view of the world. An unabashed master thief who has skirted the line into outright villainy on more than one occasion, Catwoman often places her own priorities first, though has also taken on the role of reluctant hero, more than a little influenced by her long-standing association and romance with both sides of Bruce Wayne's double life. However, a development in the latest issue of Catwoman may have just pushed Selina significantly further into the dark side.
Across writer and artist Joelle Jones' entire run on the title, Selina has been opposed by the powerful Raina Creel, an aging socialite who murdered past husbands to accumulate her wealth and become a major influential figure across the state of California. If Selina has spent her entire life toeing the line between altruistic heroism and her own compulsively selfish interests, Creel represents a woman defined by an insatiable avarice, completely willing to kill anyone that would guarantee her further wealth and power as she ascended the social ladder.
While the issue itself plays with time across the story, the underlying crux of Catwoman #16 has Selina beaten within an inch of her life by Creel's zombified minions in a deep, dark cave by the shores of a Lazarus Pit. Commonly associated with iconic Batman villain Ra's al Ghul, Lazarus Pits have kept the ancient antagonist alive and virile for centuries, mysteriously drawing power from the Earth itself to bring those that immerse themselves in its waters back from the most mortal wounds and even death itself.
However, immortality always comes at a price, with those that rise from the Lazarus Pit emerging darker than before; not unlike those that rise from Stephen King's Pet Sematary. It is theorized to have driven Ra's and his daughters insane from continued use, while Jason Todd rose from his own use of a Lazarus Pit more violent and willing to use lethal force than ever before, taking on the antihero persona of the Red Hood. Faced with her own possible death after enduring the beating from Creel's henchmen, Selina plunges herself in the Lazarus Pit and emerges fully healed, mirroring her own rebirth as Catwoman at the start of her career.
Selina's constant back-and-forth morality play was foreshadowed by a visit from Lex Luthor before her fateful encounter with Creel and immersion in the Lazarus Pit. Resurrected himself and upgraded by the omnipotent villain Perpetua, Luthor has quietly been traveling around the DC Universe recruiting other villains into the Legion of Doom, significantly upgrading them with his newfound powers as an added incentive for pledging their loyalty to him and Perpetua. Before battling Creel, Selina received a similar offer from Luthor, reminded of her villainous past before rebuffing his indecent proposal.
The immediate effects of Selina's use of the Lazarus Pit are still unknown but, with a sinister look on her face as she bursts forth from its waters, the antihero may have embraced her more antagonistic side as DC's Year of the Villain continues; a major development for the character over three years into the DC Rebirth era. How this will impact Selina's rekindled romance with Bruce has yet to be seen but Catwoman will likely be doing very bad things as she continues her feud with Raina Creel.