Something Special – Catwoman #39

This post will contain spoilers for Catwoman #39.

This year, Catwoman turned seventy-five. Along with the other anniversaries of major characters at DC Comics, she slots right in there; she first appeared in the same issue that introduced the Joker. Catwoman is an icon. My non-geeky friends and family know Catwoman. She’s been in almost every iteration of the Batman story (if not every; I haven’t done exhaustive research). Everyone. Knows. Catwoman. You can’t have Gotham without Catwoman.

Right, ladies?

I don’t know my first brush with Catwoman, but I know the first time she really made an impression on me: in Batman Returns, when Michelle Pfeiffer donned the latex suit and flipped her way through Gotham. I was enthralled. I was also a twelve year old girl with a giant crush on Michelle Pfeiffer, dating back to the first time I saw Grease 2 (shush). It was a formative experience for me.

Last year, when the current Catwoman title changed direction and got a new writer, I decided to give it a shot. In it, Selina Kyle, the most well-known woman to wear the cat ears, is running the Calabrese crime family. The book has been really fantastic; the art perfectly suits the story, and that story perfect fits Gotham. It’s dark and dangerous, and Genevieve Valentine bookends each issue with actual quotes by and about historical women with power.  Oh and also, Catwoman – the one in the suit – is currently a woman of color: Eiko Hasigaway, the daughter of Gotham’s Yakuza leader. It does the crime of Gotham the way I wish Gotham would. Needless to say, I’ve been talking up this book whenever I can.

And now, in the latest issue, Selina Kyle kissed a lady (Eiko). There were no guys present and she wasn’t under the influence of any mind control, chemical, magical or otherwise. It was a small moment on a roof top in the calm before the storm at the end of the first arc, before the title takes a break for Convergence. It clearly took both women by surprise, and obviously there’s going to be some processing in the future.

I’ve been wondering, as I’ve been reading, what’s going on between those two. Certainly since the reveal that Eiko took over as Catwoman. But I never ever get my hopes up with this kind of thing. Even though we’ve had some new LGBT characters added to the roster of the Big Two, it’s so unlikely that an iconic character will be revealed to be LGBT that I would absolutely never expect it to happen (sorry, Alan Scott).

And then it actually happened.

So yeah. It’s canon. Selina Kyle doesn’t kiss only dudes. And it was supported by DC Comics and plays a part in the next arc. It was supported by DC Comics. Do we know exactly what it means yet? No. But neither does Selina, and that’s great. We get to take this journey with her.

As grateful as I am for the queer characters that are starting to show up in the Big Two (and I am!), they aren’t characters that have the cultural resonance that Selina Kyle does. This was an amazing thing for me to read. I sat up in my chair, I flipped back and forth over the pages, I got a little teary.

For those of us who grew up invisible in media, seeing characters we’ve known all our lives be represented as like us isn’t just cool… it’s powerful. And today, Catwoman delivered that powerful moment. This is big. So thanks, Ms. Valentine, and thanks DC Comics. I can’t wait to find out what’s next.