Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale by Lauren Myracle & Isaac Goodhart
I’ve been going through these YA graphic novels for a while now, each one in the series focusing on a famous DC heroine (Harley Quinn, Raven, Princess Mera, Selina Kyle) and exploring what her adolescence might have been like. They’re not canon-compliant with any other comic books, television shows or films, but usually have the aesthetic you might expect from the character’s history.
In this case, you can expect Selina Kyle to be involved with cats, living on the streets, and a heist.
Catwoman has always been one of my favourite characters, so I was interested to see how her story would play out here in Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale. It’s about what you’d expect from a future cat-burglar: she doesn’t get on with her mother’s abusive boyfriend, and when he ends up killing her pet kitten (trigger warning for animal abuse) she takes to the streets.
Living homeless isn’t as easy as she initially expects, but she finds a way to keep clean and ensure a roof over her head. She learns parkour from a fellow street-kid called Ojo, and eventually ends up joining him and a genius hacker in a mission to steal a priceless book from a Gotham City mansion (no prizes for guessing who lives there).
But there’s something dangerous roaming the streets: a terrible killer known as the Gotham Growler, which is widely believed to be a giant, bloodthirsty dog.
Highlight the text below to view spoilers:
The biggest problem with Under the Moon is that it starts a lot of storylines and never brings them to any satisfying conclusion. I didn’t expect any closure between Selina and her mother, but there’s a whole subplot about a mute little runaway girl called Rosie that only leads to an oddly anticlimactic finish. By the end of the book we’re still not completely sure if she’s safe.
Selina spends time hiding out in a stranger’s disused shed, but when he reaches out to her with a note and warm blankets, she disappears and we never hear from him again. Why Ojo and Yang wanted to steal a book from the Wayne mansion is never explained, and — worst of all — that deadly dog killer that’s stalking the people of Gotham? Never gets explained, apprehended or brought to justice. Weird, right?
A young Bruce Wayne also features in this story, as a quasi-love interest who tries to help Selina with mixed results. I like that she was too proud to take his offer of a room at his mansion, and (unlike inMariko Tamaki’s Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass) all of the book’s problems aren’t solved by a rich kid just throwing money at them.
But Lauren Myracle’s depiction of Selina is very well done: this is a girl that plays by her own rules while still maintaining a moral compass; who gets worn down by the hardships of being homeless, but still hanging onto her dignity and sense of self.
Isaac Goodhart’s artwork is very good, depicting Selina’s life in shades of blue-purple, giving off a perpetual sense of night and darkness. She’s cute without being a complete beauty-queen, and he captures her physicality well when it comes to her skills in parkour.
I enjoyed reading Under the Moon, though it tackles some tough issues regarding homelessness and domestic abuse without providing any satisfying conclusions. Perhaps there’s a sequel on the way?
What you describe under the spoiler is so weird, like it’s half a story–I wonder if it runs alongside another comic that tells the rest of it, and they made the mistake of not actually telling readers you need both.