The Catwoman Annual comes out today! It’s written by me, with art by Patrick Olliffe, Tom Nguyen & John McCrea, and a Garry Brown cover.
And yes, there’s some Batman in this issue. (One scene with him is a favorite moment of the issue, actually – a Batman/Catwoman standoff that’s about 110% awkward, a saturation that can only be achieved when Batman’s around.) But at the risk of spoilers, at heart this Annual is Eiko Hasigawa’s origin story: it offers a glimpse of her life as an increasingly nontraditional member of a traditional yakuza family just as she begins to realize the benefits of a vigilante identity.
In the Annual, we see her struggling to make her first big decisions as her father’s heir apparent, we see her trying to draw on the more traditional influence of her family without becoming trapped in their plans for her, and we see what first makes her take up the ears. (In keeping with the tone of Catwoman, there are quotes throughout the book; Eiko’s father and mother have very different expectations of her, and the childhood literature they give her reflects this. Eiko’s mother even gives her a book that’s really a warning: the Gotham underworld has always been waist-high in double meanings.)
There’s also Selina. From her catsuit to the suits we know now, once Eiko becomes aware of her it’s pretty hard for her to let Selina go. And as Eiko watches Selina’s rise through the ranks, she becomes more and more aware of what the future holds for her, whether or not she gives in to her father’s hopes. For Eiko, Selina is somewhere between an oracle and a cautionary tale. Over the course of the Annual we see a slightly younger Eiko, whose main goal is to be underestimated so she doesn’t have to take over, become someone who needs to be underestimated because she’s realized it’s not enough merely to avoid harming – she wants to prevent harm. Of course, there are always sacrifices.
There will probably be a separate post about her costumes, which start at drapey carelessness and get more studied the more she studies the nature of a double life. Though, it would be worth it if for no other reason than because I so rarely get to talk about ski goggles in life; I’d like to take advantage.
The length of an annual made it a great place to dig a little into Eiko’s progression as a character before we meet her in Catwoman. When we meet her here, she’s been a little insulated from the worst of what she knows her family can do, and a lot of this issue is about her realizing she can’t pretend not to be part of it. (There’s also some deliberate parallel between the sorts of losses Eiko suffers while trying to get away clean, and the sorts of sacrifices Selina knows have to be made.) It was great to be able to show how Eiko was aware of Selina long before Selina was aware of her, and show Eiko learning to play a game she’d spent her life trying to avoid. It’s a deliberate opposite of Selina’s upward rise, which Selina tackled here with a sort of blunt-object determination. And while it makes sense given her determination to prevent a drawn-out war in all this, it’s also all the proof Eiko needs to take up the mask, one set of ski goggles at a time.
This issue was a lot of fun to write; if you read it, I hope you enjoy!