Try as I might, I couldn’t stay away from the DC Comics booth at BookCon in New York city this past weekend. There was so much to see and so many good books available! One of the purchases I carted home last night in my carry-on bag is the new graphic novel Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale written by Lauren Myracle and illustrated throughout by Isaac Goodhart. The story and art are quite beautiful and perfect for the YA audience in search of a new, relatable origin story for Catwoman.
Warning: spoilers ahead!
The story wasn’t what I expected from a Catwoman book. I grew up with an adult Catwoman confident in her independence and abilities, aware of and using her sexuality to manipulate others. This Selina grows into her independence, but we see she has a ways to go. It’s a neat take on the character, and I found myself enjoying the little Easter eggs throughout. This is much more narratively interesting than sexy socialite stealing for thrills or the Frank Miller approach where every woman is a prostitute.
This Selina is tough because she’s been dealt a cruel hand and has learned to cope (sometimes badly). It’s a welcome change for the character. The story starts a little slow, but it build pace quickly and I found myself lost in it.
Selina, or Catgirl as she insists others call her, is a teen on the edge, rejected and in poverty, homeless and without resources, who has the guts to forge her own path and moral code in the face of cruelties. There is a content warning for domestic violence, self-harm, and abuse, and the publishers call attention to it with hotlines and resources for young readers at the end.
Yes, young Bruce does appear! But, this story isn’t about him. Catgirl stands on her own, though Bruce does play a role. Don’t expect this to mimic Gotham.
The illustrations are expressive and deceptively simple, and Isaac Goodhart does an impressive job of balancing introspection and action without making either feel out of place in their style. It’s a manga-inspired style, meaning the comic itself is in a monochromatic color scheme, only this one shirks black and white in favor of a blue or violet palette to convey different situations. It’s a clever approach and made a big impact on the story.
The character designs are fluid and clearly distinct, and I loved the outfit and setting choices they made throughout. Goodhart’s line work is smooth and clean, with beautiful intricacies that show how much care they put into each panel. There are a few awkwardly drawn moments, but this is overall a beautiful book I’m glad to have in my Catwoman collection.
Personally, I loved this book. It took a bit for me to get into at first because I was afraid it would take a romance route, but it (thankfully) never really did in an explicit way. I wish it’d been around for me as a young reader, and I know plenty will seek this out. It may not go far enough for some Catwoman fans — she’s Catgirl after all, not Catwoman, despite the title — but it’s a story that deserves attention as it stands on its own.
Find it anywhere comics are sold.