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The strange loves of Catwoman

Contributed by
Nov 16, 2018

Catwoman has undergone quite a few retcons in her 78 years or so of appearing in comics, cartoons, and film, and there are many takes on the character that portray her as everything from a heartless killer to a cool antihero — with a lot of twist and turns in between. Most consistently, she's a cat thief with a heart of gold who overcame her traumatic early years to live the high life on other people's money.

While she is perhaps most famous for being the primary love interest of Batman, Catwoman has been around for quite a while, and Batman has always been a little hot-and-cold with his attention. So suffice it to say, Miss Selina Kyle has had a few strange loves of her own. Surprisingly, it turns out that the guy that dresses up like a bat to beat up criminals isn't her weirdest relationship.

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Slam Bradley Jr.

Although significantly less-known, Slam Bradley has a longer history in DC than even Batman and Catwoman do. He debuted in Detective Comics #1 in 1937, a concept by Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson executed by Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Shortly after this, their Kryptonian creation in Action Comics #1 would win the hearts of millions, but the Slam Bradley stories established some of the dynamic that would follow the creative team in their Superman years, including Slam showing up popping out of his shirt and roughing up criminals. Slam would never reach the heights of Superman, but the comics have never entirely forgotten him.

The origins of Sam Bradley Jr. are a little more difficult to track, as he appeared in Metropolis for a bit under the title of Slam, only to be revealed as Slam's son after Slam briefly returned to continuity in Detective Comics. Later, Sam Jr. appeared as a supporting character in the Catwoman series. Catwoman had a daughter after a one-night stand with Sam, although there is still some suspicion that Batman was truly the father. It doesn't particularly matter, though, because not only did Selina put her daughter up for adoption under the pretense that her life as Catwoman would endanger the child, but Sam and that version of Catwoman's child were retconned out of existence shortly thereafter with New 52.

Sam, like many ill-fated love interests of superheroes, was doomed to never possess too many defining character traits beyond “son of famous guy, side piece of Catwoman,” but he did apparently father one of the many versions of the Huntress. Across DC's many universes and retcons, one thing has remained consistent: when Selina Kyle eventually has a daughter her name is Helena, her alter ego is the Huntress, and she grows up to have all kinds of issues. A superhero tradition!

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Eiko Hasigawa

After many, many years of speculation, Catwoman was finally revealed to be canon bisexual when she shared an on-panel kiss with her rival, Eiko Hasigawa. Before that happens, Selina discovers herself to be the heir of the Calabrese family of Gotham, and takes over operations of their crime syndicate, thereby retiring as Catwoman. No sooner does she set down the cowl than does Eiko pick it up, and the two encounter each other as enemies several times.

Eiko only appears a few short times, so it's hard to say what she was really about. She is also an heiress to an infamous Gotham crime family, but we don't find out much about them. She and Selina ultimately ally with one another to do good for Gotham, but she vanishes shortly thereafter in one of DC's many universe-wide retcons.

Not surprisingly, her relationship with Catwoman was never really explored to its fullest, but it was interesting in concept, as the two saw much of themselves in each other, and had a necessarily intense dynamic due to all their family drama. We might never see Eiko again, but, honestly, if things don't work out with Batman, I think Selina should hit her up.

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Superman

Batman and Superman have a pretty strange friendship, and that friendship sometimes includes dating each other's girlfriends. Although Batman dated Lois on multiple occasions and even fake-married her at least once, Catwoman and Superman have quite a bit less in common than those two, so they've only interacted with one another on rare occasions.

However, one of those rare occasions just happens to be a short story in the Batman/Superman series that took place during New 52, featuring a slightly more villainous and manipulative Catwoman than we'd seen in recent years. Superman is stricken with amnesia and ruthlessly exploited by Selina, who aims to use his power combined with his confusion for her own benefit.

When Superman realizes that Selina has been manipulating him, she charms him by professing that she views Superman as a one-dimensional Boy Scout, and he doesn't exactly fit that role in his current state. He seems to agree and lets her tag along a bit longer before finally regaining his memories and calling it a day. Selina is thereby cast out, proving once again that she and Superman just might not ever really see eye-to-eye with one another. Still, it was fun while it lasted, and Selina's influence on Superman brought out his more playful side, which came as a great relief during the predominantly bleak New 52 stories.

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Moreland McShane

To set the scene, Catwoman's first solo miniseries had proven popular enough to grant the character an ongoing, which started out strong via writer Jo Duffy. After Duffy's departure, however, the series didn't seem to have much focus, and a lot of the time leaned too heavily on gender-specific tropes. Stories significantly improved when Devin Grayson took over for a criminally underrated run from issues #54-71, but the series had been meandering for a while by the time Moreland McShane as rogue-cop gone-serial-killer called the Headhunter made an appearance during this strange patch in Catwoman's history.

The Headhunter arc marked writer Doug Moench's departure from the series, and it's a very odd note to leave off on. McShane had only appeared a few issues earlier, so it wasn't exactly a shock when it was revealed that he and the serial killer that showed up roughly around the same time were one and the same. Besides that, Commissioner Jim Gordon and Selina both come off incredibly naive in their inability to put together what is essentially a puzzle that consisted of only two pieces.

Despite the fact that Moreland and Selina have less than zero chemistry, they are officially dating when she finally discovers he's a murderer that targets women, and we the reader are treated to some delightful misogynistic rambling before he dies. It's not exactly tragic. Catwoman is sad for about five minutes, and after that no one mentions Moreland McShane: Notorious Serial Killer ever again.

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Alfred Pennyworth

Not a typo! Alfred fell in love with Catwoman way back in Batman #22 and it was bonkers, as were most comic stories in the 1940s. At the time, Catwoman was pretending to be a maid named Belinda, which should have been a red flag right from the start. Isn't it commonly accepted canon that no one is actually named Belinda? Therefore, if you meet one you should be well aware of the fact that it is a secret identity. Nonetheless, Alfred falls head-over-heels for her and even writes her a very weird love poem comparing her to a cat, which is what tips Batman and Robin off to what Belinda's true identity might be.

This story is weird and only gets weirder when Alfred decides to put on Batman's costume to impress Belinda. When the team discovers that Belinda is in fact Catwoman, he even decides it's appropriate to give her a spanking before handing her over to the police. I'm not trying to ask questions I don't want to know the answers to, but why isn't Alfred the one getting spanked? He not only pursued Catwoman, but he also busted her, stole Batman's identity and costume, put Catwoman through some extreme public shaming, and saw her arrested — and then he's the hero of the story? What the heck? Even Batman is like, “Dude, are you sure you aren't being a little too intense about this?”

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