08th Mar2019

‘Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale’ Review (DC Ink)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Lauren Myracle | Art by Isaac Goodhart | Format: Paperback, 208pp | Published by DC Ink

under-moon-catwoman-cover

Once upon a time DC Comics were quite the innovators. Usually at the forefront of advances in the industry, be it the first limited series, prestige format comics, mature theme material, even web comics. They’ve usually dipped their toes in the pond before everyone else. In more recent years that all died away somewhat as the industry has become increasingly conservative, publishing only books that, to their mind, will sell to their primary audience. So, when DC announced it was attempting to again increase that audience by creating two new imprints, it felt like the old DC again. Everything needs new blood once in a while, or it will just wither away, and that’s why we have the two new DC imprints, DC Ink and DC Zoom.

The first book I have taken a look at is Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale from the DC Ink imprint, which is aimed at the 13-17 year age group, and a primarily female one at that. Reviewing these titles is obviously a tad trickier, as I am trying to read them as their target audience would , not as the curmudgeonly middle aged man I really am. So, Under the Moon is an origin tale of sorts for a Selina Kyle that most will not really recognise. This is a 14 year old Selina, living at home with an uninterested mother and abusive stepfather, and going to Gotham High. Yep, in mainstream comic continuity this certainly isn’t, but more an attempt to build a Selina that is relatable to today’s kids. She’s angry, alienated, weary of her life, and searching for something better. If that doesn’t hook today’s teens I don’t know what will.

Under the Moon is divided thematically into three sections, the first being ‘The Dark’. This is where we first meet Selina and appreciate her situation, and where we get to see the first time she develops that connection to, and affection for, cats. It takes a tragedy to start her down a certain path. Also worth noting is a certain teen Bruce Wayne pops up in a sort of guest star capacity as a fellow student at Gotham High. His presence never overwhelms the book but is certainly always a strong background player. By the end of ‘The Dark’ Selina has decided to run away from home, and gives herself the runaway nickname of Catgirl.

The real meat of the book comes in the second chapter titled, as you would expect, ‘the Light’. We see Selina transition from a homeless runaway and amateur thief thinking she can get by on her own, to a strong young girl who finds friendship and companionship, but at the cost of setting her on a certain path. Her friends are street kids, though all have their own reasons for being there, but criminals too. Selina ends up helping out with the theft of a priceless book, and only too late realises it is held at Wayne Manor, and she is stealing from Bruce. Not so easy to switch off morality after all a guilty Selina finds. The final chapter, ‘Under The Bright White Moon’, provides a resolution of sorts as Selina continues to evolve into Catgirl, but is the weakest chapter of all for me. A little too rushed, with too little resolved to be a satisfactory ending.

On balance, not a bad entry into the Young Adult Market. I know Lauren Myracle is an established author in that field, and I imagine she was writing to a certain brief from DC, so the book is probably a mish mash of author and company combined, leading to the feeling of unevenness. I think Myracle did a good job of trying to establish a very well known character as something new, someone relatable, and she made Selina feel as though she was made to be written as that disaffected 14 year old. I found some plot points a bit of a stretch, such as a teen Bruce Wayne at a public high school, and some dialogue seemed almost amateurish as though the author was trying a little too hard to be hip. The washed, two tone artwork by Isaac Goodhart was very good, easy to follow layouts and nice, clean lines. Slightly vanilla to my eyes, but perfect for the market the book is aimed at.

I would say Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale was a good read, rather than a great one, but I also think it does the job both publisher and author wanted, to establish a teen Selina as a relatable character for the Young Adult market, and keeping the superhero aspect of her character firmly in the background. A costume doesn’t define her, her fight and spirit does. Who can’t identify with that?

I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more of Lauren Myracle’s Selina.

*** 3/5

Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale will be available from DC Ink on May 7th 2019. You can pre-order it now on Amazon.

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