The latest character to receive her own DC Ink original graphic novel is Selina Kyle in Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale by Lauren Myracle and Isaac Goodhart. Retelling the origin of Selina' transformation from teenage runaway to master cat burglar, the young adult tale is an earnest and beautifully rendered, if somewhat uneven, story packed with both genuine emotion and several head-scratching narrative decisions.
Under the Moon follows Selina's unhappy childhood with her single mother and long line of abusive boyfriends as she tries to balance surviving her hellish home life with the trials and tribulations of attending high school. It mixes usual teenage drama with her attempts to get the attention of a certain future Caped Crusader, who happens to be a classmate with his own troubled past. Divided across three major acts, Selina's story sees her go from put upon young girl to runaway to aspiring thief, all while overcoming adversity and proving herself the ultimate survivor, time and time again.
Where Myracle's scripting really excels is in founding her story in emotion while grounding it in instantly recognizable conflict. Everything this incarnation of Selina Kyle goes through all comes from a real, often times ugly place, and much of the first half of the story has her endure much just to get through every single day, both at home and school. Where it falters, unfortunately, is in its execution, which can come off at times as heavy-handed, clumsy and with excessive repetition of several narrative elements. There are questionable storytelling decisions in choices that characters make, and some sequences will leave readers scratching their heads and wondering what just happened, much less how it drives the story and informs the characters moving forward, including a certain recurring bloodthirsty creature stalking victims through the streets of Gotham City.
Young adult fiction is not particularly known for its subtlety, and that is especially apparent here, but Myracle never presents the abuse and violence in the story as unsavory or off-putting. Working outside of DC's main line, Myracle is given free rein to employ unfiltered profanity in service of her characters, which can catch readers used to traditional mainstream DC Comics off-guard. Ultimately, though, it further adds to the overall verisimilitude of the characters and what they're going through. They feel grounded, though the situations that develop around them are oddly mismatched.
Visualizing this new origin for Selina Kyle is Isaac Goodhart, joined by colorist Jeremy Lawson. Goodhart gives the story a fresh sense of vibrancy, even in its darker moments, capturing both intimate, quieter sequences as well as kinetic action, beautifully. Visually, the teenage Selina is instantly recognizable, and yet Goodhart makes the character all his own, conveying her inner turmoil and that of the supporting cast admirably, thus helping the story move along during its shakier moments. For sequences set at night, the visuals are effectively moody and atmospheric giving Selina her preferred time to operate.
A bold reimagining of one of DC Comics' most iconic antiheroes, Under the Moon isn't afraid to hold back in terms of content as it repositions Catwoman for the teenage and young adult audiences. Packed with genuine emotion and gorgeous visuals, it falters in its execution with clumsy dialogue and narrative decisions as it moves further into the story it's trying to tell. And with the original graphic novel serving as the introduction to a much larger story, hopefully it will even itself out as it continues to find its voice moving forward.