Learn how two of DC comics’ most notorious villains got their start in this series from Stone Arch.
Catwoman: An Origin Story begins with Selina Kyle’s beginnings as a cat burglar. She hears the cries of a small kitten and goes to rescue it. This establishes her as a more of a Robin Hood character than a villain. She robs from the rich to help build shelters for animals. Batman makes an appearance in this story. We see him watching Catwoman through a skylight. Batman later catches up with her and hands her over to the police. The judge decides to give Catwoman a second chance to mend her ways, but she has other ideas. The graphic novel ends with a profile on Catwoman, breaking down the things that make her unique, her costume, accessories and skills.
The Joker: An Origin Story starts out with a figure in a tuxedo and a red hood attempting to unlock a safe. He is caught in the act by Batman and gives chase. The figure in the red hood falls into a vat of acid and emerges and the villain we have come to know as the Joker. We get the trademark green hair, white skin and maniacal grin. He later adopts a new look a green and black suit. In addition he develops new gadgets and weapons some that are quite deadly. He aims to poison the water supply, but he is caught by Batman before he can enact his evil plan. The Joker lands in Arkham Asylum, but always manages to escape to wreak havoc in Gotham.
I found the illustrations in Catwoman: An Origin Story to wonderfully depict the two sides of Catwoman/Selina Kyle. When she is in Catwoman mode the panels darken, painted in rich reds and blues highlighting the nighttime setting. This reflects Selina turning towards her nefarious side of being a cat burglar and needing to commit her crimes in the dark. When she is Selina Kyle and fighting to protect animals we see the goodness in her. In the opening, Selina discovers an abandoned kitty, lost and hungry. She scoops it up into her arms and takes it home to feed and nurture it back to good health. The artist conveys Selina Kyle as being stylish, independent and her own person. Red, green and purple highlight the antics of The Joker: An Origin Story. The color scheme helps emphasize The Joker as a clownish character with an underlying menace. I found this to be my least favorite of the two graphic novels in the DC Super Villains catalog. The Joker to me is not that compelling of a character. He’s just evil and goofy; there is no nuance about him.
Catwoman: An Origin Story and The Joker: An Origin Story would make good additions to the children’s comics section of your library. According the the publisher these graphic novels are suitable for 1-3rd graders and targets for children 6-8. I will add that the Joker’s story could use some parental guidance. Children of a young age might need help navigating a character who has no qualms about killing an entire city of people just because he likes destruction and mayhem.
DC Super-Villains Origins series
by Louise Simonson
Art by Luciano Vecchio
Catwoman: An Origin Story
The Joker: An Origin Story
Publisher Age Rating: Grades 1-3