The Golden Age Catwoman

Personal Data

Selina Kyle Wayne

Residence: Gotham City
Occupation: Professional Criminal, later reformed
First Appearance (Golden Age): Batman #1 (Spring 1940) 
First Appearance (Post-Golden Age): DC Super-Stars #17 (December 1977)

History

    Selina Kyle, who grew up to be the Catwoman, was born in 1920 in an undisclosed locale.  Little is known of the life of Selina Kyle before her marriage at 17 to a wealthy, but abusive, Gotham businessman.  Tiring of her physical and mental mistreatment, Selina quickly divorced her husband in 1938 but he was vengeful and ruined her financially and emotionally for her betrayal.  To get back at him (and obtain some needed resources), she broke into her former home and stole the gems he had bought for her but taken back, cracking a complex safe to do so.  In addition to recovering in gems, she got a thrill from doing it and learning she could do it led to her assuming the identity of Gotham's most famous cat-burglar (Revealed in Brave and the Bold #197).

    For two years, Selina operated under the name "The Cat", targeting wealthy individuals in her new identity.  One such target was wealth socialite Martha Travers, who was hosting an elegant yacht party to show off her $500K emerald bracelet.  Disguised as elderly Miss Peggs, the doddery acquaintance of Traver's nephew Denny, the Cat joined the party and coordinate the theft of the necklace with Denny.  Robin, sent by Batman to disguise himself as a steward, investigated the case and implicated Denny but was interrupted by the arrival of other crooks disguised as the coast guard.  Batman arrived soon after and the two defeated the crooks and recover most of the loot but not the necklace.  At the ball that night, Batman returned the goods stolen by the crooks but the necklace is not among them.  Robin sets off the fire alarm as a distraction and Batman notices Miss Peggs suddenly running like a much younger woman and pursues her.  There he has his first meeting with Selina Kyle who has the necklace taped to her ankle.  They return the emeralds and take the Cat into custody, but as they are heading back to shore, Batman, obviously smitten with the thief, allows her to escape (Batman #1).

    Weeks later, while Batman is following up on the recent escape of the Joker, he finds the Cat (sometimes being called Catwoman, which will become her eventual nom du crime) on the Joker's trail as they are both pursuing the same prize, the Pharaoh Gem owned by E.S. Arthur. Batman catches Catwoman after she spies and she tells her what she knows of Joker's plans in exchange for her freedom.  When she, the Joker and  the Batman converge on the Arthur Castle, a three-way contest emerged in which Selina gets her hands on the gems first but seeing Joker about to kill Robin, offers them to him in exchange for the boy's life. Batman arrives and thrashes the Joker, leaving him to die as the castle catches fire.  He snags Catwoman as they depart but she leaps into the water and escapes (Batman #2).  Shortly thereafter, Selina adopted a cat mask to fill out her role as a costumed criminal when she was hired to steal diamonds in an internecine plot among a diamond syndicate but when Batman breaks it up, she escaped again (Batman #3).  She was shortly thereafter hired by Ian Karkull as part of a scheme to murder future Presidents but she could not complete her mission as while she was an accomplished thief, she never committed murder (All-Star Squadron Annual #3). Months later, she adopted yet another costume as she masqueraded as a wealthy socialite sending her guests (along with her thugs disguised as Batman) on a criminal scavenger hunt. As always, she was thwarted by Batman but escaped with a kiss (Batman #10). 

    Selina Kyle was at times a reluctant criminal and early on, decided to try a more traditional life as a beautician.  Adopting the identity of Elva Barr, she entered a beauty contest for salon operators that brought her into contact with Bruce Wayne and society wealth.  In the former case, she was smitten and in the latter, her avarice was re-awakened.  She used her skills in disguise to appear as a known social figure and staged a job at a socialite's wedding where Bruce Wayne was in attendance.  Quickly changing into his Batman uniform, he cornered Catwoman as she tried to escape.  She pleaded for mercy, confessed her love for Bruce Wayne and how she was trying to go straight.  Batman was moved and took pity on here but when Catwoman returned to her gang to announce her retirement, they ridiculed her with the news that Wayne already had a girlfriend that was not Kyle. Again deploying her disguise skills, she masqueraded at a lunch with Wayne as Linda Page, his socialite girlfriend. There Wayne revealed that Batman had asked him to court Catwoman as part of a plan, breaking Selina's heart.  Afterwards, the Catwoman went on a crime spree, committing theft after theft.  At point she robbed a pet show and was intercepted by Batman and Robin.  When she again tried to flee, she became tripped up in a mass of scurrying cats releases by the robbery and this time, Batman's only resolve was her arrest.  Selina Kyle became an inmate in the Gotham Penitentiary for the first time (Batman #15).

    Over the next several years, the Catwoman staged an extensive series of crimes and was in and out of prison.  She continued an obsession with Bruce Wayne, getting a job as a fake housemaid to stake out his home (Batman #22).  She often engaged in crimes with cat-themes such as a scheme based on nine lives (Batman #35), a series of high profile cat-nappings (Batman #39) or crimes based on famous cats of fiction such as Alice in Wonderland's Cheshire Cat (Batman #42). She also used her plunder to upgrade her criminal operation, maintaining a small army of informants, operatives and criminal muscle to effect her crimes on the outside and insure her quick escape whenever she ended up in prison.  Her arsenal including trained animal companions, including her loyal black cat Hecate (Batman #35) and the Kitty Car, a rocket-powered parallel to the Batmobile (Detective #122). Additional capers included a series of crimes based on famous women (Batman #45)  and fashion trends in high society (Batman #47).

   In 1950, Selina was thirty years old, single and with an extensive criminal record.  Depressed and disenchanted with her life, she decided it was time to end her Catwoman identity.  When an emerging Gotham ganglord known as Mister X facilitated her escape from prison, she agreed to participate in a series of robberies on his behalf.  When a change encounter with Batman and Robin caused a crumbling wall to fall, a blow to the head rendered her unconscious.  When she came to, she started reciting distress announcements for Speed Airlines, a plane which had crashed some years before.  She told Batman that she was a stewardess that had been injured in the crash and remembered nothing over the past decade.  When Batman revealed her history, she feigned surprise that she had led a criminal life and begged to atone.  She assisted Batman with the capture of Mister X and agreed to become a police informant and lead a civilian life (Batman #62).

The transition to civilian life was not without challenges as the reputation of the Catwoman was well known.  When she tried to start a pet shop as a civilian career, she was coerced by the enormous criminal Whale Morton into a series of robberies but unbeknownst to either Morton or the pursuing Batman, Selina was acting in her role as a police informant and leaving an easy trail for them to follow and ultimately arrest Morton (Batman #65).  Another wrinkle occurred when her brother Karl Kyle adopted the criminal identity of the King of Cats. Staging a series of brazen robberies and attracting the attention of Batman, the new Cat King attempted to get Catwoman to join him before her selfless efforts to rescue Batman and Robin from one of his traps caused him to re-think his plans and turn himself in (Batman #69).  While Catwoman is thought to have committed no further crimes, she was eventually tried for past robberies and sentenced to a minimum-security prison outside of Gotham.

In 1955, a crime spree by the Scarecrow resulted in Batman being afflicted with autophobia, a fear of being alone and  the delusion that everyone close to him - Robin, Alfred, Superman - had vanished.  Needing a partner to assist his hunt for the Scarecrow, he arranged for Selina Kyle to be released from prison.   The two pursued the criminal as the effects of his fear toxins infected and worsened in both.  They ultimately broke through the effects by unmasking and confessing their feelings for one another, which ultimately led to Selina's final reform (Brave and the Bold #197).  They married the following summer (Superman Family #211).

The intervening years were idyllic ones for the Waynes.  Selina completely abandoned her identity as Catwoman and Batman moved into semi-retirement, allowing Robin to take his place as Gotham's most prominent defender.  Their daughter Helena was born in the late 1950's and grew to adulthood with her mother's beauty and her father's detective mind.  Bruce Wayne became more of a social activist, ultimately being elected commissioner of the Gotham Police when James Gordon retired in the early 1970's.  Tragically, this happy period ended in 1977, when former Catwoman hireling Silky Cernak claimed to have evidence that Catwoman - whose criminal sentence was lightened on the grounds that she had never committed murder - had in fact killed in police officer in the later stages of her career.    Cernak agreed to burn the evidence if Catwoman would assist in one final job, to which she reluctantly agreed.  With Robin out of town, alarms tripped at the robbery site lured Batman to the scene and to his horror, he found Selina there instants before a stray bullet hit her and knocked her off a balcony, plunging four stories to mortal injury.  She died begging Bruce's forgiveness as Cernak escaped.  She was buried in the family plot and her daughter Helena assumed the role of the Huntress and ultimately tracked down Cernak and brought him to justice (DC Super-Stars #17).  Her husband joined her in death two years later when he was killed by Bill Jensen atop the Gotham towers (Adventure Comics #462) and Helena went on to become a prominent member of the Justice Society of America, carrying forward the legacy of both of her parents.

Multiversity

Prior Earth-1 = The origins of the Silver Age Catwoman are thought to largely resemble that of her Earth-2 counterpart with some modest differences.  On this Earth. Catwoman is a thief with an international reputation, bringing her into conflict with super-heroes like Wonder Woman (Wonder Woman #201 and 202) and Black Canary (Adventure Comics #419).  She has a lengthy career before partially reforming and becoming an ally of Batman (Batman #310).  She was subject to experiments by Dr. Moon that resurfaced her criminal side and led her to ally with the Joker (Detective Comics #569-70).  She eventually returned to less criminal bent working with Batman until the Crisis on Infinite Earths.  Her ultimate fate is unknown.

Prior Earth-0 = The origins of Catwoman on the post-Crisis earth are drastically different from her Earth-2 counterpart in that Selina started a life of crime from beginning as a prostitute and thief in Gotham's seedier sections.  Also unlike Catwoman of Earth-2, the Catwoman of this earth is willing to kill to obtain her objectives.  She is known primarily as a somewhat neutral party mixing her criminal behaviors with periodic acts of considerable heroism.

Current Earth-1 = The Catwoman of this earth is also a thief who has transiently crossed paths with Batman but little of her backstory is known (Batman: Earth One #2)

Current Earth-2 = The Selina Kyle of this Earth is also the wife of Bruce Wayne and the mother of Helena Wayne who is Robin, not the Huntress, in her initial career.  She is killed by agents of Apokolips (World's Finest #0).

Earth-6 = The Catwoman of Earth-6 is not Selina Kyle but Joanie Jordan, a model who is caught in a lightning blast with her cat, linking their minds and giving her the physical abilities of a human feline  (Just Imagine: Catwoman #1)

Earth-11 = While no version of Catman has been revealed on this gender-switched earth, the existence of Sylvester Kyle on the Dark Multiverse Earth -11 implies the existence of one on Earth-11.

Earth-21 = The Selina Kyle of this earth is similar to her Earth-2 counterpart but she is aware of Bruce Wayne's identity as Batman and helps him on occasion (The New Frontier LS).

Earth-22 = The Selina Kyle of this earth is similar to her Earth-1 counterpart and has achieved a matronly age by the turn of the new millennium.  She is a member of Luthor's Mankind Liberation Front (Kingdom Come LS) and is known to have outlived this world's Batman (Justice Society of America Vol. 3 #22).  A subsequent individual had assumed a Catwoman identity but was killed in the nuclear blast at the gulag in Kansas.  The links of this Catwoman to Selina Kyle are unknown (Kingdom Come LS).

Earth-29 = A version of Catwoman was glimpsed at the Arkham Amusement Park where Bizarro-Criminals are punished but nothing is known of her history (Action #857).

Earth-31 = The legacy of Catwoman on this earth is carried by a Spanish noble turned pirate Capitana Felina, captain of The Cat's Paw and ally and lover of Captain Leatherwing (Detective Comics Annual #7)

Earth-32 = The Selina Kyle of this earth is recognized by a Star Sapphire gem and becomes the Catwoman/Star Sapphire hybrid Binary Star (Batman: In Darkest Night LS).

Earth-37 = Selina Kyle of this earth is an exotic dance with a cat thematic and informant to Gotham Police until she is murdered by this Earth's Joker, Bianca Steeplechase (Thrillkiller LS).

Earth-43 = On world of horrors, this version of Catwoman is a were-cat that transforms into a feline form.  She is an ally to the vampiric Batman before she is killed by the Joker of Earth-43 (Batman: Blood Storm). In a world where nothing stays dead for long, it 's unclear whether her fate is sealed.

Powers/Skills

Selina Kyle had no known super-powers but was a superb athlete.  She employed a number of weapons where she had elite expertise including sharpened claws and her signature Cat O' Nine tails whip. She used her ill-gotten gains to upscale her criminal operations including a network of secret lairs called Catacombs and tricked-out racecar called alternative the Catmobile or the Kitty Car.

Weaknesses and Limitations

Selina Kyle was a normal human female with mortal limitations and aged at a normal rate. Without her implements, she could be overwhelmed and injured as any other woman her age.

Appearances 

Issue Comment Reprinted in
Batman #1 1st Appearance, vs. the Batman The Dark Knight Archives #1, Famous First Editions #F-5, Catwoman: Nine Lives Of A Feline Fatale TPB, Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told Vol. 2,  Millenium Edition Batman #1, The Batman Chronicles #1, Catwoman: A Celebration of 75 Years,  Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 1,  Batman: The Golden Age #1, The Bat and the Cat: 80 Years of Romance
Batman #2 vs. the Batman The Dark Knight Archives #1, The Batman Chronicles #2,  Batman: The Golden Age Vol. 1, Batman: The Golden Age #1
Batman #3 vs. the Batman, adopts a mask The Dark Knight Archives #1, Catwoman: A Celebration of 75 Years, The Batman Chronicles #2, Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 1, Batman: The Golden Age #1,The Bat and the Cat: 80 Years of Romance
All-Star Squadron Annual #3 Employed by Ian Karkull to kill future presidents but thwarted by Batman  
Batman #10 vs. the Batman The Dark Knight Archives #3, The Batman Chronicles #6, Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 2, Batman: The Golden Age #3
Batman #15 vs. the Batman, arrested for the first time The Dark Knight Archives #4, Batman in the 40's TPB, The Batman Chronicles #8, Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 2, Batman: The Golden Age #4, The Bat and the Cat: 80 Years of Romance
Batman #22 vs. the Batman The Dark Knight Archives #6, Batman #255, Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 3, Batman: The Golden Age #6
Batman #35 vs. the Batman Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #123, The Dark Knight Archives #8, Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 4
Batman #39 vs. the Batman Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 5
Detective #122 vs. the Batman Batman Archives #6, Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 5
Batman #42 vs. the Batman Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 5
Batman #45 vs. the Batman Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 5,  Limited Collectors Edition C-37
Batman #47 vs. the Batman Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 6
Batman #62 Origin revealed, becomes police informant The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told  Vol. 2, Batman #208, Limited Collectors Edition C-45, Batman in the Fifties TPB, Batman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told Vol. 1, Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 7
Batman #65 vs. Whale Morton as a police informant Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 7,  Catwoman: A Celebration of 75 Years
Batman #69 Engages Batman and the King of Cats, revealed to be her brother, who she helps reform Catwoman: A Celebration of 75 Years
Brave and the Bold #197 Flashback to the 1950's, vs. the Scarecrow, pledges to marry Batman The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told  Vol. 1, Catwoman: A Celebration of 75 Years, Tales of the Batman: Alan Brennert, The Bat and the Cat: 80 Years of Romance, Dollar Comics: Brave and the Bold #197
Superman Family #211 Flashback to the 1950's, marries Bruce Wayne
DC Super-Stars #17 dies in this story The Huntress: Dark Knight Daughter Vol. 1, Batman in the Seventies TPB, The Huntress Origins, Catwoman: A Celebration of 75 Years

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