Last summer DC Comics revealed new imprints to help widen their options for audiences. One of which was DC Ink, a young adult line of graphic novels with new interpretations on some of their most popular characters. The latest from DC Ink is Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale by Lauren Myracle with art by Isaac Goodhart. This is a great character drama and at its core an important work that could change lives.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
When fifteen-year-old Selina Kyle, aka the future Catwoman, becomes homeless, she must confront questions of who she is and who she will become.
She rejects human cruelty, but sometimes it seems as though brute force is the only way to “win.” And if Selina is to survive on the streets, she must be tough. Can she find her humanity and reconcile toughness with her desire for community … and love?
From Lauren Myracle, the New York Times best-selling author of books like ttfn and ttyl, comes a new graphic novel that tells the story of a teenage Catwoman, as she struggles to find her own identity while living on the streets of Gotham.Age range: Teen
Why does this matter?
This is a good read for young adults, duh, but it’s also a good read for folks who want a deep and meaningful story without heroes in tights. It’s a more realistic look at a possible Selina Kyle.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Running 208 pages, this is a story that sneaks up on you. Speaking as a person who reads a lot of superhero comics I read this wondering, “Okay, but when does she get the costume?” Spoiler alert, she doesn’t, or at least doesn’t get the costume you might be imagining. As I was wondering this, Myracle’s dialogue and well-paced story drew me in and made me feel for Selina. She’s your typical high school girl, but underneath it all, we find out her mother has had a rotating number of men who have entered and left her life. Many of them were dirtbags. There’s a cycle of abuse that Selina’s mother can’t get away from and that abuse spills down on Selina. Eventually, her mother takes in a rough and burly man who may be the worst yet. This man makes Selina’s life a hell as he bullies her and torments her.
Things get worse from there. Myracle puts the work in to make Selina a believable and well-rounded person. She has one major friend and she’s a defender against bullies. You get the sense that if her life didn’t spiral out of control, she wasn’t forced to escape her abuser, and she stayed in school she’d end up being a person to enact positive change. She’s a tragic hero, and what I’ve described is only the first third of the book! From there Selina meets interesting friends (watch the trailer above for more on that), takes on a cat-persona of sorts, and has a certain Bruce Wayne always there on the outskirts of her life. By the end, you’ll feel inspired by this character who is a survivor of abuse, self-harm, and homelessness. I could see young boys and girls reading this and be sucked in by the character and also learn something.
The art by Goodhart is sharp and above average for a comic series. Backgrounds and environments are well rendered, clothes are stylish and realistic looking, and expressions are sharp. More importantly, characters look their age, which is a common issue for many artists. The colors by Jeremy Lawson use utilize a mostly blue palette with purple and red popping in only briefly to enhance the effect of a scene. That gives the book a cooling look that enhances the sad state of affairs. The letters by Deron Bennett keep the dialogue even-keeled as if to hang moments on the dialogue moreso in a story with so many sad moments.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
I wish I had known superhero stuff was not going to be part of this story. The story is a good one, but expectations for a character like this are set. The back cover has Selina throwing on a cat-eared hoodie which made me think she’d go down that crime fighting path. I might have liked the story even more if I had known this was a very heartwrenching and realistic look at a girl’s life with an ever so slight reference to Catwoman. One could see this as a “What If” story but that Selina and Bruce are in high school and both are definitely not superheroes.
My only other gripe was how Goodhart drew a key kitten. The kitten might be the most unrealistic thing in this book, everything is so true to life, and that pulled me out of a portion of the book.
Is it good?
I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from this book nor did I expect what I got, but I highly enjoyed it. This is a huge recommend for anyone in the mood for a young adult character drama. You will get sucked into this story and learn something from Selina Kyle’s life.