Oh, Catman. Like Pied Piper, he has an interesting origin as a throwaway villain. He was originally set opposite Batman in 1963, something of an analogue to Catwoman (as then-Batwoman was an analogue to Batman). Like Piper — and Batman — he was a bored millionaire with an obsession. In this case, he grew bored of hunting big cats and turned to a life of crime, early-Catwoman-style: Costuming himself as a cat and stealing cat-themed objects. After a few Batman appearances, Catman found himself shunted over to Green Arrow comics. There, he was presented as a failure — a laughingstock in the villainous world, if anyone bothered to think of him at all. Hey, a lot of those 60s villains were like that.
Enter the magnificent Gail Simone. This is the person who coined the term Women in Refrigerators, y’all! She’s written for Deadpool, Birds of Prey, Batgirl, Wonder Woman, and more. In 2005, she got her hands on Catman with the mini-series Villains United, leading into a new Secret Six series. In this series, Catman’s gotten himself together. He’s cultivated some self-respect and honed his skills, becoming quite the compelling anti-villain. He still identifies as a villain and that’s important, he pretty much thinks superheroes are full of shit, but he has a sense of honor and acts like a hero much of the time.
After the series ended, Gail Simone let it be known on social media that she’d always intended to reveal Catman was bisexual, but never had the chance. She said next time she wrote him, she’d do it — and she kept her promise! In the New 52 Secret Six, his bisexuality became canon. And there was much rejoicing.
- Villains United by Gail Simone & Dale Eaglesham (pub. 2006, ISBN 978-1401208387). Republished in 2015 as Secret Six Vol. 1: Villains United.
- Secret Six: Six Degrees of Devastation. (pub. 2007, ISBN 978-1401212315). Catman isn’t out yet, but much of the plot centers around a cool lesbian couple, so you’re good. 😉
- And so on through the series — they’re numbered 1-6 after that one.
- The New 52 version just started publishing in December, so there’s no collection yet.