She’s armed, she’s a thief and she’s made far too many nerds discover their sexuality earlier than they probably should…she’s Catwoman. But she wasn’t always the woman in the suit with the stabby claws that we know and love.
Believe it or not, Catwoman wasn’t actually that popular a villain until the Silver Age. She appeared in Batman #1 as a generic “jewel thief” type villain, and popped up sporadically until 1954…and then vanished for more than a decade. Opinions differ as to why: the will-they-or-won’t they dynamic violated the Comics Code or Batman spent a decade being totally gay…but either way, she didn’t crop up until 1966. And, then, well, she’s been inescapable since. Let’s take a tour, shall we?
Catwoman really came back for one reason: the “Batman” TV show, that ran twice weekly and needed as many villains as they could come up with. This is why we have villains like King Tut: the comics just didn’t have that many villains in the first place. Also, it was an opportunity to get Julie Newmar into a catsuit. Not to mention Eartha Kitt, also in Newmar’s catsuit, because apparently the suit itself was designed and constructed by…Julie Newmar. She also apparently kicked Jim Belushi’s ass in court. Why’d they replace her again? Oh, right, because the producers were terrible.