Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale
Deron Bennett (letterer), Isaac Goodhart (artist), Jeremy Lawson (colourist) and Lauren Myracle (writer)
DC Ink (a DC Comics imprint)
May 1, 2019
Content Warning for mention and depiction of child abuse.
In March 2015, I hosted a Gotham Academy roundtable featuring five book bloggers. We discussed their limited experience with comics, if the series was great for newbies, and if they would go on to read more comics. The purpose of this exercise was to prove that DC Comics could reach a larger audience by making their comics more accessible. It’s been almost three years since that roundtable, and DC Comics is publishing graphic novels under their new middle grade and young adult imprints: DC Zoom and DC Ink. This ongoing series on WWAC, DC Youth, will follow these fledgling imprints and see how they do with reaching a new group of comic book readers.
Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale is the second title to come out of DC Ink, and it follows a fifteen year old Catwoman, Selina Kyle, before she dons the famous catsuit. This version of Selina Kyle is used to her mother’s revolving door of terrible boyfriends until Dernell. Dernell has been the one boyfriend to outlast the others and is crueler than the rest. A terrible pet-related incident causes Selina to run away from home and live on the streets as Catgirl. She meets a street kid named Ojo who teaches her the art of parkour and the two of them join the rest of Ojo’s found family, Yang and Briar Rose, to pull off a big heist.
I didn’t enjoy reading this story, and a lot of it came down to the depiction of abuse and the book’s colouring choice. This is the second DC Ink title to go with a single colour scheme, and like the Mera book, it doesn’t work. There are roughly 63 pages dedicated to Selina’s home life, and the constant barrage of the different ways in which Dernell is horrible felt excessive. This might have been different if it was prose—although it would still come across as a bit too much—but when you translate these scenes into panels where the medium is mostly visual, it’s a lot. Then you throw in the blue colouring and your entire mood is dragged down.
The rest of the book is fine, but there are missed opportunities. Rather than focus so much on the multiple instances of abuse, it would have been nice to dedicate more pages to the heist and the relationships Selina finds herself forming despite her need to be alone. The side story of a monster dog terrorizing Gotham wasn’t necessary and could have been removed entirely. Selina calling herself Catgirl felt forced, and it was weird that the death of a kitten was the reason for that moniker. The relationship she has with Bruce Wayne could have been executed a bit better. I’m finding that the books I’ve read so far in the imprints need to consider the pacing and balance of their stories. Like a friend of mine said, 200 pages seems like a lot in prose, but it’s not a lot to work with in comics.
After the announcement that there will be a sequel to Teen Titans: Raven, it’ll be interesting to see if Mera: Tidebreaker and Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale will also get sequels. If so, I hope both writers will benefit from having written at least one comic under their belt.