For more than seventy-five years, Catwoman has forged her own path in a clear-cut world of stalwart heroes, diabolical villains, and damsels in distress. Sometimes a thief, sometimes a vigilante, sometimes neither, and sometimes both, the mercurial Catwoman gleefully defies classification. Her relentless independence across comic books, television, and film set her apart from the rest of the superhero world. When female characters were limited to little more than romantic roles, Catwoman used her feminine wiles to manipulate Batman and escape justice at every turn. When male villains dominated Gotham on the small screen, Catwoman entered the mix and outshone them all. When female-led comics were few and far between, Catwoman headlined her own series for over twenty years. True to her nature, Catwoman stole the show everywhere she appeared, regardless of the medium. But her unique path had its downsides as well. Her existence on the periphery of the superhero world made her expendable, and she was prone to lengthy absences. Her villainous origins also made her susceptible to sexualized and degrading depictions from her primarily male creators in ways that most conventional heroines didn’t face. For good and ill, Catwoman serves as a stark counterpart to the typical evolution of the history of women in comics, and in popular culture generally. The standard tropes rarely applied to Catwoman; instead, her adventures have charted an inimitably varied journey of empowerment and exploitation. Exploring the many incarnations of this cultural icon offers a new perspective on the superhero genre and showcases the fierce resiliency that has made Catwoman a fan favorite for decades. Many Lives of Catwoman explores that history. (via Goodreads)
I received an eARC of this book from Edelweiss, courtesy of the publisher, Chicago Review Press, in exchange for an honest review.
The first superhero I remember loving was Batman. Throughout my childhood, Batman was one of the few heroes I actually liked. I’m not very into violence or y’know, murder, so I loved that Batman wouldn’t murder people. However, I never really read the comics. They don’t tend to work visually for me, which is fine, but I never got into them.
That being said, I really enjoyed this history book about Catwoman. Catwoman is a chameleon-like badass of a character, and Hanley does a great job showing his love for the character and talking shit about some of the worst aspects of the comic industry when it comes to her.
My favorite part of Many Lives of Catwoman was definitely the footnotes, though. I highly recommend you read them all. Overall, this was a four star book for me. You can pick up a copy on Amazon or Indiebound!