I love the character of Catwoman, and by that I mostly mean the one in Arkham City. She kicks just as much ass as Batman while being way cooler.
Since playing it I’ve been reading Catwoman TPBs when the library has them in, and in general I’ve been unimpressed. The low point, I think, was giving her a baby, and then having Wacky Superhero Things happen around the two of them. The attempted mixture of realism and wackiness just didn’t work.
I read some of the latest Catwoman, and it’s not bad, but I think they made her a little too kee-razy.
But I think I’ve finally found a good Catwoman book: Trail of the Catwoman, which actually has three interrelated stories from 2002-3. The first story is by Darwyn Cooke, and he has an appealing, very brushy line:
He write a heist story, which is precisely (I think) what you should do with Catwoman. It’s what she does, what she’s good at, and it’s fun to see her at her most cool and competent. And I think Cooke does a good job recognizing her sexiness while letting her rise above it. It’s a tool she uses (though at the same time she can actually care for people, something that doesn’t come naturally to Bats).
The heist itself is ill-advised (stealing from the Mob) and has quite a few holes in it. (Hint to plotters in movies and comics: you and your scheme are only as secure as the guy you’ve left alone.) Still, stories only happen when things go wrong, and it’s told well.
The other two stories are more noir, which also fits Catwoman. Noir started as an attempt to restore realism to detective fiction, but it’s mainly stayed in the ’30s and ’40s at heart, thus becoming a form of fantasy itself. The stories deal with Mafiosi and rotten cops, and I think they have precisely zero to say about criminality and policing, but that’s OK– the Mafiosi and cops behave as they’re supposed to in noir, and again, an actual police procedural or Mob expose doesn’t really have a place for a femme fatale cat burglar, but noir does.