Throughout 2018, all eyes were on Batman and Catwoman’s impending nuptials. While Selina Kyle’s engagement may not have worked out, the feline-themed bandit still made out like a—well, bandit. Catwoman’s self-titled ongoing series has returned one of DC Comics’ most fascinating female characters to the spotlight, as writer/artist Joëlle Jones charts a course for Selina that doesn’t solely involve the shadow of the Bat. Jones has written and (mostly) drawn the first eight issues of the ongoing series, but Catwoman #9 finds Jones ceding the issue to the guest team of These Savage Shores and Paradiso writer Ram V and Harley Quinn artist John Timms.
Paste spoke with Ram V last year ahead of his Bat-centric DC Comics debut, and we caught up with the London-based writer over email to chat about all things Cat. Check out Ram’s thoughts on Selina Kyle’s mindset, Timms’s artistic contribution and the Ocean’s franchise below, along with an exclusive look at Timms’s uncolored artwork, and be sure to pick up Catwoman #9 from your local comic shop or preferred digital retailer today.
Paste: Your first work for DC Comics was an eight-page Batman short, and Catwoman #9 is a done-in-one tale. How do you approach a self-contained standalone story versus longer works like These Savage Shores? And did you feel extra pressure or responsibility knowing that your issue would be sandwiched between Joëlle Jones’s ongoing installments?
Ram V: The primary difference in the way I approach something shorter and more finite as compared to a longer sprawling tale is that structure becomes important. A short story or a single issue has a shape. And essentially, you try to write the events of your story so that they live within that shape. Choices in terms of how long a scene needs to be, or how many pages can you use to create some breathing space between events become key considerations.
There was probably less pressure that way, if anything. My brief was to tell a one-and-done story that thematically fit in with the events of Joëlle’s run but there were no specifics that I had to tie in to. So that pretty much left me with room to tell my own story while still nodding to Joëlle’s run and also subtle nods to events in Tom’s Batman run. So, I’ve basically just told a fun, feisty story and left the consequences for others to deal with!
Paste: Selina Kyle has obviously had a tumultuous last year, from a wedding-that-wasn’t to resurfaced familial drama and new foes. What is your take on Catwoman’s mindset as the issue opens? Is she leaning into her new status quo, or still running away from her prior life?
Ram V: I see Selina as the sort of character that lives in the moment. She is at home in the chaos of her own life. After all, hasn’t it always been this way for her? If anything, to me, her relationship with Bat seemed a happy dream. But the reality of Selina’s life has always been one that she never ran away from. I see her as someone who is at home with where she is now. Like a cat—she always lands on her feet. I think that easy adaptability shows in my take on the character. But deep down, you can tell, there are events in her past that she cares about. She still mulls over them. So, she isn’t entirely disconnected from her past. She just doesn’t let it get in her way.
Paste: Let’s talk a bit about Detective Dean Hadley. In the classic vigilante/cop vein, his badge requires him to oppose Catwoman but he doesn’t seem too opposed to taking an “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” approach to Catwoman’s extracurricular activities. How does he work as a foil for Selina in this issue?
Ram V: I think Dean Hadley’s defining characteristic is that he is the epitome of the street-wise, hot-shot cop. Perhaps he and Selina have more in common than they realize. Dean is also in this for personal glory. The satisfaction of having gotten his target and the glory that follows probably motivates him more than any allegiance to the badge. So, he’s not averse to bending a few rules as long as he gets what he wants. And he’ll take risks if it means he has a chance at glory. I think Selina and Dean work really well as foils because they’re often motivated by similar things. But Selina has been at this for a long while, and she seems to find ways to stay one step ahead, doesn’t she?
Paste: While Selina goes a bit Robin Hood here, stealing with a righteous cause, the central heist reminded me much more of the Ocean’s films. Was Danny Ocean an influence on your plotting for this issue? And was it challenging to devise a working scheme for Selina to carry out?
Ram V: I think my first outline for this issue which I sent to my editors said, “I want to do a Catwoman issue as a Soderbergh film.” So yeah, the Ocean’s influence is apparent. I sent Ocean’s soundtracks to John Timms when I sent him the scripts. And at one point, Brittany Holzherr, who was assistant editor on the book, said it reminded her of a Cowboy Bebop episode. So, there you go. I can’t possibly think of better influences for this story.
Yeah, working out the scheme took a bit of juggling in terms of plot. But once you’ve steeped yourself in heist-movie plots, you know how to make a good con work in a story.
And Selina probably made more profit in this story than anyone else. So I think she would object to your use of the words “righteous cause.”
Paste: John Timms is probably best known for long stretches on Harley Quinn, and his cartooning is a bit of a visual departure from the first eight issues of Catwoman. What was it like working with him on this story, and what did he bring to the page that you might not have expected?
Ram V: Frankly, I think John’s perfect for this story. It’s supposed to be dynamic, naughty, fast-paced, slick and smooth. I think those are all ways you could describe John’s art. When I first pestered him to show me some sneak peeks and I saw his take on the issue, I could instantly see he’d nailed the aesthetic. And that’s such an important thing for a story that wears its influences on its sleeve.
The script was dense and quite demanding of the artist in places. Especially complex action sequences in relatively constrained spaces. But John nails it every time!
Paste: Now that you’ve stepped up from anthology shorts to single issues, should we keep our eyes peeled for more of Ram V at DC? And what else do you have coming up in 2019 that you can tease for us now?
Ram V: Oh, I’ve got a few things coming up in 2019. They’re probably best left to official announcements, though. Let’s just say Selina and I have more stories to tell!