Review – Under The Moon: A Catwoman Tale (DC)

Publisher: DC Ink
Writer: Lauren Myracle
Artwork: Isaac Goodhart
Colours: Jeremy Lawson
Lettering: Deron Bennett
Release Date: 1st May 2019

Hot on the heels of Danielle Paige and Stephen Byrne’s Mera, Under The Moon: A Catwoman Tale is the latest offering from “DC Ink”, the new young adult graphic novel line from DC.

In a story entirely removed from existing continuity, New York Times Bestselling Author Lauren Myracle and talented artist Isaac Goodhart introduce us to 15 year-old Selina Kyle, a troubled high school kid dealing with an equally troubled mother and an endless succession of deadbeat stepdads.

After a particularly harrowing situation with a stray cat Selina decided to adopt and her mother’s latest abusive boyfriend, she runs away from home, turning her back on her family and resigning herself to a life on the streets.  She shows remarkable resilience and ingenuity in surviving as long as she does, and bids a symbolic farewell to her old life, casting off “Selina” and starting to calling herself “Catgirl.”

The story is very much a teen drama for the most part, with young Selina trying to continually overcome the adversity that the world keeps throwing at her, before meeting up with a group of similarly homeless teens and stumbling into her first full-blown “heist”, but man if things don’t go full ‘Gotham City’ in the final act.

Under The Moon is very much a reimagining, and with the exception of a particularly dashing young classmate (whose identity you can probably guess), the familiar Catwoman lore is dialled way back for the most part.  This is definitely a wise move, and allows us to focus on the young protagonist herself rather than constantly comparing her to the established comic book version.

Myracle’s writing is sharp and well observed throughout, adding a resilient charm to the young Selina as she tries to condition herself to a life of independence and isolation, more out of necessity than anything else. Delicate matters like domestic abuse and self-harm are handled respectfully and confidently, and the story resonates on a mature level that a lot of readers will definitely appreciate.

The artwork fits the tone of the story beautifully, all soft edges, heavy shadows and expressive characters, but Goodhart also shows us that he can cut loose when the story requires it, particularly during the aforementioned final act.  The character designs themselves are impressive, Selina in particular, and the panel layouts ensure things flow smoothly throughout.  Jeremy Lawson’s colours also do a great job of establishing the tone of the story, utilising a stripped-down, monochromatic palette while still adding a real richness to the pages.

It’s definitely more ‘young adult’ than ‘all ages’, with several moments of violence, abuse and profanity along the way, but there are some real fun moments here as well.  The sequence where Selina gets her first taste of parkour from fellow street kid Ojo is lively and energetic, and the relationship she strikes up with silent youngster Rose is packed with heart and emotion.  The conclusion does a great job of cementing Selina’s character, and wisely leaves the door open for more stories to potentially be told in this universe somewhere down the line.

Alongside DC Zoom, DC Ink has been set up as a gateway to the wider comic world for a new generation of readers, and I’m absolutely loving the approach the creators have taken here. This is an accessible, stand-alone tale that confidently tackles the kind of issues teenagers can relate to, and does so without any unnecessary schmaltz or sugar-coating.  If I had a child, this is exactly the kind of book I’d love for them to be reading.

Rating: 4/5.

The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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