In Catwoman: Soulstealer, a graphic novel adaptation of Sarah J. Maas’s DC Origins prose novel of the same title, we learn about Catwoman’s origin by seeing the moment her world falls apart: her abusive mother is sent to jail and the police stop by to take both Selina and her sick sister to separate foster homes. Unfortunately, Selina does not react well to this news and assaults the police officer, picking up her third offense and receiving a prison sentence. However, her incarceration is intercepted when Talia recruits Selina to the League of Assassins.
At this point, the narrative skips ahead two years to when Selina returns to Gotham City posing as rich socialite Holly Vanderhees and makes a string of burglaries look easy in her modified stealth suit, which features cat ears and claws. Eventually, she makes a purposeful mistake in order to lure out the Bat, but meets Batwing (a.k.a. Luke Fox) instead of Batman. Poison Ivy and Batwing start referring to Selina as Catwoman, so she sticks with that when she convinces Ivy to bring in Harley Quinn. As the trio work together to steal from the rich and send their profits to groups working to protect innocents and the planet, the reader can pick up on hints of Catwoman’s true motives.
You will be happy to know that Selina/Catwoman’s personality, as well as Luke/Batwing’s, is explored through inner thought bubbles in a way that is authentic and accessible to teenagers, the target audience. You may recognize the original author, Sarah J. Maas, as the widely popular creator of both the Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses series. Her name will definitely attract readers. This adaptation works great as a standalone piece, but I can’t speak to its faithfulness to the original novel as I have not read it yet.
Besides inner thought bubbles, the reader is able to pick important emotions and hints through Louise Simonson’s artwork, which is largely black and white, except for color coding inner thoughts to match the character’s POV and subtle additions to draw the reader’s eye. The mostly muted color palette adds visual interest while allowing brighter colors to pack a punch. This combination would work well for readers who find bright colors distracting, readers that find black and white too boring, or readers who are interested in the darker superhero tales.
This title would be a good addition to any superhero collection, particularly one that serves teens. The cast features three strong female characters, as well as one of DC’s Black heroes. There is also a page at the end that describes several services for suicide prevention and survivors of abuse with the corresponding contact information.
Catwoman: Soulstealer (The Graphic Novel)
By Sarah J. Maas
Art by Louise Simonson
Publisher Age Rating: YA
Related media: Book to Comic
NFNT Age Recommendation: Older Teen (16-18), Teen (13-16)