35 years ago - Selina Kyle is born in the Gotham Slums.
31 years ago - 4-year-old Selina's mother commits suicide, leaving her with her alcoholic father.
28 years ago - 7-year-old Selina runs away from home rather than watch her father drink himself to death. She survives on the street.
26 years ago - 9-year-old Selina is arrested on the street & placed in the care of a corrupt social worker.
22 years ago - 13-year-old Selina catches her social worker embezzling city funds and is left to drown. She escapes, blackmails her would-be murderer into wiping her identity from Gotham's records, & steals her diamond necklace.
20 years ago - 15-year-old Selina falls in with a group of street thieves led by Mama Fortuna. When she refuses to follow the rules, she is beaten by one of the thieves; Jack Chavez. Later, she follows him to a hidden dojo where she earns a place as a student. Jack is kicked out of the school when he beats her almost to death. When she heals, she begins pulling riskier burglary jobs.
18 years ago - 17-year-old Selina saves her neighbor's daughter Holly Robinson from a corrupt cop. She starts looking out for her.
16 years ago - 19-year-old Selina, now Gotham's premier cat burglar, takes a luxury apartment and begins mingling with Gotham's elite. She leaves thousands of dollars for Holly & her mother, telling them to take care of each other.
9 years ago - 26-year-old Selina's past is exposed by a mysterious photo leak. She loses her lavish lifestyle & returns to her apartment in Gotham's East End. She continues to work as a burglar, but when she meets private detective Slam Bradley she's encouraged to also work to protect the people of East End.
8 years ago - 27-year-old Selina is reunited with Holly Robinson, who becomes her roommate & confidant.
7 years ago - 28-year-old Selina is attacked by her old nemesis Jack Chavez, but she defeats him, handing him over to Batman.
5 years ago - 30-year-old Selina discovers that it was Black Mask that leaked her photos when she rejected him. He kidnaps and tortures Slam Bradley, and almost kills Holly before she escapes, all trying to break Selina. She confronts him, and in a moment of desperation she shoots and kills him, ready for his men to kill her in retaliation. Batman saves her, and finally condones her work in the East End. She meets Tim Drake, giving him some insight into Batman.
4 years ago - 31-year-old Selina knows immediately that Jean Paul Valley isn't Batman. Bruce Wayne reveals his identity to her, and she helps him recover his batsuit and reclaim his mantle. Their relationship moves forward.
3 years ago - 32-year-old Selina is pregnant. She retires as Catwoman, handing over the mantle to Holly Robinson. To keep her daughter Helena safe, Bruce Wayne recommends that she be sent to Phantom Lady's Universite Norte Dame Des Ombres. Bruce pays for her tuition and board, and Selina visits her regularly, all the while keeping their connection secret.
now - 35-year-old Selina returns to Gotham when Holly is nearly killed by the Penguin & his thugs, and becomes Catwoman again to get payback.
There is so, so much to like about Catwoman. She's undergone a lot of permutations over the years, primarily because the entire Batman mythos has shifted and changed from decade to decade, but there's always a clear understanding of her role as a femme fatale. What THAT means has grown and shifted over time, which has actually made her a fantastic barometer for women in comics in general.
It's a pretty regular occurrence in old comics that women are regularly cast either in a role of submission (like early Lois Lane), or as a villainous deviant. The more time you spend reading about classic comic villains (and we've done a lot of it), the more often you see female villains that are motivated entirely by the fact that they are attracted to the hero. It as if the idea of a woman having a say in her own sexuality was enough to make them a super villain.
But even then, at the height of the popularity of that concept, there was something that elevated Selina beyond it. There was an undercurrent of consent that permeated all her dealings with Bruce. Somewhere, beneath all the banter and deathtraps.... they both loved every bit of it.
It's so rare to see a character that just FELT like she had ownership of herself and her choices and her body and still was somehow, on some level, not a bad person for it. Even when comics devolved into a series of large-breasted catsuited pin-up girls in the 90's, and Selina was just as over-sexualized as the rest of them, you somehow felt like this fictional character still had her own agency.
Fast forward a few years to Darwyn Cooke's staggeringly fantastic Selina's Big Score. In one series, he takes all that fantastic character and agency that was always bubbling under the surface and drives it forward in a fantastic detonation of noir-thriller bombast. This book is probably the single greatest revolution in development any character has ever experienced. For the love of god, go buy it.
Selina has taken a lot of her cues from Cooke's brilliant innovation over the ensuing years, sometimes faltering into the minefield of deliberate sexualization and character assassination that was the new 52, but almost always maintaining her effortless awesomeness. Her enhanced role as Batman's actual lover in the Hush storyarc, and her turn as a mother, passing the mantle of Catwoman onto her sometimes sidekick Holly, all draw heavily from his stellar design.
We had so much fantastic source material to draw from, it was largely just a matter of trying to fit it together in a way that naturally flowed from Batman's story... she's a supporting character, after all. Still, she also happens to be one of the best characters in comics, period.