Sparked by playing Arkham City, I grabbed a bunch of Catwoman TPBs from the library. I have to say I am not overwhelmed, but by God can Adam Hughes draw Catwoman. It looks to me like his depiction is the chief basis for the one in the game.
I read one book by Loeb/Sale and three by Pfeifer/Lopez/Lopez. It’s probably something about my age, but superhero comics have to be phenomenally well done to escape the basic cheesiness of the concept. Pfeifer tries for a certain realism, but he can’t dent the inherent fantasy. He throws in something very real like Catwoman having a baby, and then the baby gets kidnaped by Soviet supervillains or Amazon warriors. Loeb goes for more camp, but then he has things like mafiosi pledging allegiance to whoever has a certain ring, which sounds like a quest from Skyrim. I never get the sense that the writers know a thing about crime, about thievery, about mafiosi, or even about psychopathy.
Why does it work in the video games? Partly because they’re interactive: stuff that would be cheesy in a comic or movie isn’t when you’re doing it. And partly, they go for gothic excess rather than realism. Or to be more precise, they use realism to heighten immersion, not to model everyday life. It was probably wise that the game lets you see into Catwoman’s apartment but not go inside: making her an everyday figure who has to worry about diapers and nannies does not really improve her. (The exception is Peter Parker, but that’s not an endlessly repeatable formula.)