As the comic industry finds more ways to thrill audiences both old and new, a few very historic landmarks have come for some of our leading ladies of the funny papers.
Catwoman, introduced in Batman #1 in 1940, celebrated her 75th anniversary in 2015. Wonder Woman, introduced in All Star Comics #8 in 1941, turns 75 this year. With a hot new blockbuster film on the way, DC Comics has spared no expense celebrating Wonder Woman’s three quarters of a century with exclusive merch, reprints of her best comics, tons of press, and near constant buzz on social media. It makes sense that Wonder Woman is the more celebrated of the two, after all she is the leading lady when it comes to iconic super heroes both male and female alike. However, watching Catwoman’s anniversary come and go like a blip on the DC Marketing Team’s radar is a bit frustrating, especially when it will likely be many years before we reach another lady hero’s anniversary date from DC (or Marvel) comics.
It’s no surprise that DC spent a fair amount of attention on other iconic characters in 2015. As Batman’s story began to be more fully realized in the early days of 1940’s Gotham City, Dick Grayson’s Robin was introduced, as well as the infamous villain The Joker. Both characters wound up with 75th anniversary comic collections, but the Boy Wonder got the star treatment in the new weekly comic, Batman & Robin Eternal. The book explored Batman’s complicated relationship with the Robin role, Bruce’s relationship with Dick Grayson in particular, and how other characters in the Gotham family interact with them. We also saw the Robin War event kick off, a cross-over event featuring Damien Wayne, Bruce’s son and most current Robin. Overall, it was a busy year for the world’s most famous sidekick.
So where did that leave the world’s most famous cat burglar?
Much like The Joker, Catwoman scored her very own 75th Anniversary collection. Over 400 pages collecting some of her most daring do heists and feats of anti-heroism. She popped up on DC Comics social media feed with a cool video celebrating “Top 6 Killer Catwoman Moments” but otherwise the company had very little else to say. No exclusive merchandise, no logo (like the previous Superman 75 or Batman 75 ones) and especially, no recognition in the 2015 lineup of ongoing comics.
Surely, we can’t expect Catwoman to get the same treatment as the Trinity, but the fact that she fell so far behind the celebration of Robin stung those of us who grew up adoring her sassy, powerful appearances throughout the long history of Batman TV and film. Oddly enough, Catwoman has had much more exposure in pop culture media than Wonder Woman. Between the glorious glittery spandex adorning the phenomenal Eartha Kitt, the second skin latex of Michelle Pfeiffer, and the brazen animal activist take in Bruce Timm’s Batman: The Animated Series, little girls have been growing up with Catwoman at the forefront of female representation in comic’s pop culture. If you were born after 1979, there was no Wonder Woman on TV or in film, and it would be decades before Black Widow would appear as the first silver screen Marvel heroine that anyone paid attention to (sorry Elektra…)
Speaking of Marvel, we likely won’t see a 75th anniversary event for any of their lady heroes for some time, since many of their current leading heroines were introduced in the 70’s. DC Comics has comparatively a huge lead in that department, with a number of female heroes leading the charge before Dazzler lit her first sparkler or She-Hulk applied for law school. So while we get to enjoy the 75th Anniversary events for Captain America, Batman, Superman, Robin and The Joker, Wonder Woman is the only leading female who gets the all-star treatment of events.
This isn’t to say she doesn’t fully deserve it! Rather that it would be nice if once again, Wonder Woman wasn’t the only female hero we have to look to when it comes to examples of female characters leading a massive Big Three marketing campaign celebrating three quarters of a century in the hearts and minds of fans around the globe. For Wonder Woman to share the spotlight with another, far different sort of female character, would have been enriching and inspiring on many fronts.