Doug: Back again with some more haute not-necessarily-couture. Up this week -- Miss Selina Kyle, the Catwoman! To your left is a fine illustration by longtime DC cover artist Brian Bolland. Said illo is also available as a poster, by the way!
Doug: Working clockwise from the lower left corner of the image, we have the purple catsuit popularized in the 1990's by artist Jim Balent -- I'd argue that this version of Selina would certainly give Power Girl a run for the money in the "busty" category! Above is Frank Miller's interpretation from Batman #404-407, the Batman: Year One arc (the first of it's sort, and some would argue still the best in the genre -- although certainly controversial). Selina's first, non-costumed appearance as The Cat from the Golden Age precedes the Batman: The Animated Series version. At the top is one of the first versions I ever saw, primarily because it's the costume in which Mego outfitted Catwoman's The World's Greatest Super-Heroes action figure in the early 1970's. Continuing to the right is the more common Golden Age costume -- one of my favorites. I'm uncertain of the time period for the green costume, but the subsequent purple/green suit hails from the All-Star Comics revival -- this was the Huntress' mother's costume. And lastly, at center stage, is the modern catsuit.
Doug: I've always liked Catwoman. The male/female dichotomy between her character and the Batman, the sexual tension, the more-naughty-than-nice angle of her character -- I've just always thought she was a great foil for the Dark Knight. Throw in the 1970's Earth-2 characterization as told by Gerry Conway and Joe Staton in the pages of the aforementioned All-Star Comics revival, and the revelation that the Huntress was the daughter she shared with the Earth-2 Batman and it's a great story.
Karen: She's one of the best Batman villains, simply because she's one of the few that Batman holds any reasonable hope of redemption for. The mutual attraction between the two has always been fun to watch. I also agree that the concept that her Earth 2 version was wife to Batman and mother to Huntress was especially appealing.
Doug: Let's also not forget a couple of versions of the lady, as appearing on the silver screen. Fans (even detractors) of the 1966 Batman film and television series cannot forget the sultry Julie Newmar, Lee Meriwether, and Eartha Kitt in the catsuit. In the 1992 film Batman Returns, it was Michelle Pfeiffer's turn to get into the leather in a dominatrix version of the costume. I hate to even mention Halle Berry's turn, so purge it from your memory and assume I didn't just do that.
Karen: I have to say, even as a child, I knew there was something terribly naughty about Julie Newmar as the Catwoman! My god, she looks like she was poured into that suit!
Doug: So, which of those outfits above are winners, and which are litter box fodder? My "likes" are the aforementioned "dress"-like outfits, as opposed to the infinitely more conventional and practical catsuits. That might seem odd, since much of the character is built around sex appeal. I don't know -- maybe I like the color scheme (works for the Hulk, doesn't it?). I think the best thing is the flow of the skirt and cape -- it jibes with Batman's scalloped cape and adds some real dynamism when they are "on camera" together in a panel or series of panels.
Karen: The Julie Newmar version beats all others in my book! That super-sleek, simple yet elegant outfit just blows everything else away. For the comics though, I like the purple and black, followed by the Batman Year One outfit. I just think a character based on a cat should be very sleek, and these one piece suits achieve that.
Doug: My dislikes would be the two very early-1970's get-ups -- the green deal with the cat-o-nine-tails and the formerly-mentioned Mego outfit. I don't think the latter has anything to do with a cat -- you might argue that neither does the purple/green dress w/ cape costumes I mentioned above. But at least those have the cat motif working with the mask. These other two are just silly, and part of DC's redesigns that also saw Wonder Woman in civvies. Not a good change!
Karen: I really don't care for that funky blue and red ensemble. Weird colors, and what's with the buccaneer boots?
Doug: And the mask is just wrong for the character, too.
Karen: All in all, I would give Catwoman a thumbs-up. She's had a couple of whacky looks, but for such a long-running character, she's done pretty good!