Moving into the East End: Pfeifer talks "Catwoman"

The residents of Gotham's City's East End needed a hero they could believe in. Many East Enders couldn't turn to Gotham's champion, Batman, for help out of fear that he might hunt them down to. When writer Ed Brubaker took over DC Comics' "Catwoman" he gave the people of the East End a hero they could identify with, one who also happened to be a villain. With Brubaker signing an exclusive contract with Marvel Comics, a new writer has moved into the East End. CBR News spoke with new "Catwoman" writer Will Pfeifer about the character and what new challenges await her in her continuing role as protector of the toughest neighborhood in Gotham City.

Pfeifer got the "Catwoman" job at last year's Wizard World Chicago. "When I was at Wizard World I was hoping I could talk to a couple of DC guys and maybe at least get some stuff lined up," Pfeifer said. "Matt Idleson, who is the editor of 'Catwoman,' called me behind the big DC display and said, 'How would you like to write 'Catwoman?'' It completely came out of the blue, but obviously I was pretty excited about it. The more I thought about it the more I really liked the character. I always liked what Ed Brubaker's done on the book. I was really excited to do it."

Brubaker's highly acclaimed run will be difficult to follow, but Pfeifer is enthusiastic. "It's tough because he's had a hell of a run," Pfeifer told CBR News. "I think he has struck just the right tone of doing a book set in the DCU, but also taking sort of a more down to Earth approach on things, mixing in mystery and film noir influences and that kind of thing. So it's a tough act to follow, but I'm excited about it. I think we got a good book. Ed's been real supportive on the message boards."

Pfeifer sees two core characteristics that define Catwoman. The first is her cunning. "I think she's always sort of the smartest person in the room," Pfeifer explained. "She's got a grasp on the situation and she's always like four steps ahead of everybody. She doesn't have super powers. She doesn't have the gadgets. She doesn't have the resources that maybe Batman has, but she's really smart and very witty."

The other core trait is Catwoman's sense of fun. "Even in tense situations, she's always sort of having a good time," Pfeifer said. "She has some fun with things. She sees her life as an adventure. She's not one of those grim and gritty people."

Gotham's grim and gritty defender will make an appearance in "Catwoman." "That guy with the Bat suit will definitely drop by as he tends to," Pfeifer said. "He's the only hero that's going to appear in the first arc. It's going to be sort of an unusual appearance. They're going to have a serious sit down, talk about the state of crime fighting in Gotham right now."

Batman and Catwoman's romance cooled at the end of the "Hush" story line in "Batman," but the two have recently started up again, slowly exploring their feelings for each other. "She and Bruce are pretty well matched," Pfeifer said. "They're both smart, both dedicated. They both sort of seem to be operating at a level above everyone else. So, I always thought they made a good couple. I kind of like the way that it's played at a certain level where Bruce keeps a suit over at her apartment and she shows up every so often at Wayne Manor, but they're not seriously committed to each other. It's more playful that way."

One person that wishes he were romantically involved with Catwoman is her ally, private detective Slam Bradley. "It's interesting with Slam because he clearly carries a torch for her and I think she loves him, but not in the same way," Pfeifer explained. "It's almost to me like a classic film noir kind of thing. Where the detective is obsessed with the femme fatale that he can never really have. Over the years they've drawn Slam Bradley to look like Robert Mitchum. Not too long ago I was watching one of Mitchum's best film noirs, 'Out of the Past,' where he is obsessed with this woman and it really does kind of have that feel of a good 'Catwoman' comic."

Slam won't play a large role in Pfeifer's first story arc, but he and the rest of the supporting cast that Brubaker helped establish will be part of Pfeifer's "Catwoman" run. "She's got a good supporting cast. Holly's definitely in it. Slam Bradley is not in it for the moment, but his son is going to play an unusual part in the first story arc we're doing," Pfeifer said. Slam's son, Sam has entered the family business of crime solving, but as a public servant. "Sam Bradley, he's on the police force. We're going to sort of explore Catwoman's relationship with the cops and the East End's relationship with the cops."

Like Batman, Catwoman's relationship with the law in Gotham City is not a good one. "While she doesn't have the sort of horrible reputation maybe that Batman has with the cops, in a way hers is even worse because she's a flat out villain in a lot of ways. That's sort of the public persona of her and definitely the police persona," Pfeifer explained. "She's definitely wanted by the cops. To Commissioner Akins, she's one of the big names he'd like to bring down."

Pfeifer plans to continue having Catwoman serve as guardian of Gotham's East End. "Our big over arching theme for now is Catwoman as the champion of the East End," Pfeifer said. "The first six part story arc is going to be all about what she does to protect the East End. She takes some unusual and some would say extreme measures to do so but I think she sticks true to her character."

Catwoman must protect the East End from other villains who see the neighborhood as easy pickings. "People see the East End and they say, 'Oh, one normal woman is protecting it.''" Pfeifer said. "So, she's not the only villain in the East End and it's sort of what she does with the other villains and to the other villains to protect herself and her city."

One of the villains hoping to exploit the East End will be very familiar to readers of "The Flash." "Captain Cold is going to appear," Pfeifer said. "He's worked with her before. So, they've got a relationship, but they've worked together. They know each other."

Two other villains appearing in "Catwoman" will be familiar to readers of the original "Outsiders" series. "I'm bringing back two oddball villains from…I think they were in 'Batman and the Outsiders' way back when; Russian villains named Hammer and Sickle," Pfeifer explained. "This is going to be sort of a different take on them. Any villains named Hammer and Sickle are just a little silly and Catwoman is going to view them as, 'Who the heck are these clowns?' But they're not entirely a joke and they'll prove pretty formidable. It's after the fall of The Soviet Union, what did these villains do? It's interesting taking Selina's personality and bouncing it off these other personalities. To me that's the real fun of writing the book."

Pfeifer's Catwoman won't be a grim and gritty crime book, but it also won't be a lighthearted superhero story. Pfeifer compared the tone of the book as a balance of Ross Macdonald, one of Brubaker's favorite crime writers, and the caper novels of Elmore Leonard. "I have heard some people on the Internet say it's going to be a return to the old days of Catwoman joking around and the thief having fun all the time," Pfeifer said. "It won't quite be that. The tone will be somewhat like Ed's stuff. It will be serious. It will be film noir, but you always get the feeling that Catwoman, she's having some fun doing what she's doing. I want the book to be not light hearted but to just have a good spirit of adventure about it."

As the "Countdown to Infinite Crisis" continues the DC Universe will be rocked by some powerful events that may not resonate in "Catwoman" at first, but will eventually affect the book. "Because I'm kind of operating in a side corner of the DCU right now, I don't know of any definite impacts there will be on 'Catwoman' yet," Pfeifer explained. "I'm sure there will be some and I do know how she'll tie into at least one event. At least for our first six issues there's not going to be too much of an effect."

Pfeifer praised the artwork of new "Catwoman" artist Pete Woods, saying he's doing a "bang up job on the art" and added he's having a great time exploring Gotham's East End. "Each comic I've done 'Hero,' 'Aquaman,' and 'Catwoman,' they've all been so different," Pfeifer said. "But this one, this really lets me sort of play in an area I really enjoy, the urban setting. I hope people pick it up because I think it's going to be a fun book."

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