You are either going to love the main story in this comic, or hate it. It is a mash up that would not normally occur, and it is quite funny. But you have to be in the mood for it.
The plot is basically an excuse for groups that do not normally fight, to fight. Because the destruction of Tweety or Sylvester will result in the death of all cats or birds. If you embrace the idea, you will love it.
There are some wonderful digs at character design and DC plot points.
I have no idea what continuity this is in, but it was a good story. That it was another iteration of Catwoman is just gravy. There are some problematic elements - namely the language - but it shouldn't get in the way.
Selina Kyle is 14 and is driven to leave behind a hostile home environment. She can't bear to go to Gotham High anymore and leaves everything behind. Cutting is an element to the story, too. Be warned. On the street she's befriended by other kids getting by on their own terms, but it may mean hurting the one person she didn't want to lose.
This is about Selina getting the courage to stand up for herself, but its primarily about Selina's relationship with a young, mute homeless girl. Its a nice story, about surviving abuse and remaining a good person, but I don't have too much to say about it. I'm not sure where this fits in to the larger DC universe. Is there a series of young adult graphic novels coming out focusing on more real-life issues?
Life pretty much sucks for Selina Kyle, at least for as long as she stays living at home with her mom and the endless stream of boyfriends she brings home. None have been as bad as the latest guy, Dernell, who’s cruel and will even lock Selina up in a closet when he wants to teach her a lesson. When something happens to Selina’s new cat, she can’t take it anymore; life on the streets will surely be better than staying where she feels so unhappy.
Selina joins a small ‘pack’ of street kids, learns parkour, gets close to an old friend and takes on the new name and persona ‘Catgirl.’ Usually more of a loner, she begrudgingly learns she has to trust others if she is going to survive. And she also plans to carry out some not-so-small heists in gritty, crime-addled Gotham City.
This YA graphic novel is fresh from the DC Ink line and is written by author Lauren Myracle, who is no stranger to teen and tween lit, writing the bestsellers ttyl, ttfn, l8r, and g8r. This also means some pretty high expectations, because of Myracle’s familiarity with her audience and her success.
‘Under The Moon’ also happens to be about probably one of the coolest female comic book icons, Catwoman, although here we really have a version of her unlike any that has been seen before. Since this Selina is only fourteen years old, she really is a girl, and so calling it ‘A Catwoman Tale’ is definitely a bit of a stretch. And so begins the problems, because if anyone has read or seen any incarnation of this character before, it’s really hard to remove that image or knowledge (only just recently Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas came out as #3 in the DC Icons series).
In previous comics and the novel I just mentioned, we see an older Selina, who takes care of her younger sister and is trained under Carmine Falcone, as well as a past that included her mother dying, being a prostitute, as well as training and living in Europe.
‘Under the Moon’ gives us a Selina with a wealth of issues: she’s a runaway, she stops going to school as a result (making her a high-school dropout), and resorts to cutting to relieve her emotional pain. While I understand the notion of presenting a teen character who has the inclination to run from her home situation (abuse in the home is a pretty valid reason), or has a problem with self-harming (I will warn readers now about this, because it’s a big trigger), since these may be relatable issues for some readers, I also take issue with that being done in a responsible manner. I feel like these are risky, BIG topics to so lightly insert into a slim 96-page graphic novel, with very little insight. It’s irresponsible to add in a topic like self-harming so casually.
Since this is aimed at teens who are 13 to 17, I also feel like the flagrant use of foul language was wholly unnecessary. Unlike another teen DC graphic novel coming out soon after this, Kami Garcia’s ‘Teen Titans: Raven,’ that doesn’t have expletives and talk about things like penis size thrown in, this probably will be the reason for reconsideration for libraries (especially school libraries) carrying this book. I am not naïve about the use of swearing in YA lit, but it seems excessive in ‘Under The Moon’ and distracted me from the story, being used in a way that seemed like it was used to pander to young readers (who may think it’s ‘cool’ to talk like this).
I also got a very mixed notion as to who Selina is because of the swings in her characterization. Her portrayal is quite inconsistent, at once dismissive of the few friends she has, then she acts the opposite way soon afterward (although her compassion towards Rosie in the latter part of the novel is heart-warming). The self-harming comes out of nowhere. She is sometimes self-assured and then not remotely confident. And her connection to Bruce Wayne, which apparently starts in preschool, feels more confusing than it ever is in most literary and cinematic portrayals of Catwoman so far. Him being at public school is yet another diversion from his own origin story.
Something else that irritated me, is Selina’s inconsistent connection to CATS. I wasn’t convinced entirely by the way she came to call herself ‘Catgirl’ despite the event that preceded this juncture.
I wanted so much to love this graphic novel: the sentiments of her being a stray and her loneliness are powerful, with these being reasons for her ‘cat-burglar’ behavior, but I found too many problems that I couldn’t look past. Fleshed out and with paying more attention to the deeper issues in this story I would maybe go along with Selina’s backstory, but I can't recommend this, as it is right now (*as always, edits may be made before publication), to the targeted reader group.
**Points/extra star for cool artwork.
Selina Kyle is a very strong character, but I didn't expect her to be quite so kind and driven to help those she loves. I'd say she is a kinder softer Catwoman in this version. She is driven by her love and need to protect and care for her sister who has cystic fibrosis, which is different than the way she is normally portrayed.
I was also expecting a bit more of a villainous, morally grey, independent Catwoman. I was a bit surprised to see her team up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. I enjoyed the team up, especially Catwoman and Ivy's friendship. I liked Harley, but she tended to stay focused on breaking Joker out of the asylum, even hurtfully referring to him as "her man," completely oblivious to Ivy's feelings.
Catwoman and Batman are usually the ones we see romantically linked, but in this book Batwing is the love interest while Batman is off on a mysterious mission. Now Batwing (Luke Fox) was an okay character with a lot of potential, a marine who suffers from PTSD and dons a suit to help fight crime and clean up Gotham's streets. I just felt like he wasn't all that much of a challenge. Catwoman frustrates, outsmarts and humiliates him a little too easily. I kind of felt bad for the guy.
In comics, movies and tv series, Catwoman tends to be a bit more sassy, saucy, and flirty than she is here. Selina's back story was a good deal different in this book, she grew up caring for her sister, learning to fight and winning match after match in Falcone's arena located in the sewers beneath Gotham in order to pay for food, rent and hospital bills. She is very serious and focused which is great, but I would have loved to see more of her fun, feisty side as well.
The bittersweet, emotional turn the book takes toward the end certainly took me by surprise. It was a very pleasant surprise. I enjoyed this version of Selina and I would recommend it to others, but I wouldn't recommend it to die hard fans of the comics because Maas does take quite a few liberties with the characters and doesn't stay entirely true to their original versions. I myself enjoy seeing different takes on my favorite characters. They don't always work, but in this case, it wasn't purr-fect, but I think Maas did a nice job.