The title of this post is actually a misnomer, in that I can give you no definitive reason why cat-like female superheroines and supervillains are so sexy, and sexualized, in comic books. I'm not even criticizing it. I'm just observing a fact. They just are. Maybe this goes all the way back to Catwoman, who was seducing (or fighting with, or who can really tell?) Batman right in her first appearance in 1940.
At any rate, with the debut of Dynamite's ongoing series "Pantha" in June, the tradition will no doubt continue. I thought it'd be fun to take a look at some female feline heroes and villains through the years:
While Tigra started life as studious Greer Grant (and the obscure but quite cool superheroine The Cat), by the time she became a half-cat, half-human hybrid her hormones went more and more out of control. The more her cat-self dominated her personality, the more fellow Avengers she needed to bed (including Wonder Man and Hank Pym). Here we have a very cause-effect connection to being a cat and being sexy. Whereas if she was really was like a cat, she'd probably be sleeping a lot during the day and be a picky eater.
We've mentioned her before, but with all the recent hoopla about her new comic being too sexy, I thought we'd give the character another look. Her various costumes through the years have been different degrees of revealling...from the more modest violet dress and green cape, to various bodysuits that look like they were painted on, to the smart and sexy Darwyn Cooke redesign. Themes of romance and sex seem to follow this character everywhere, through her comic book, TV, and movie incarnations...though some go beyond that more than others.
#27 in The Comics Buyer's Guide's "100 Sexiest Women In Comics," and #10 on James Gunn's "The 50 Superheroes You Most Want To Have Sex With," Black Cat's crush on/romance with Spider-Man is legendary. She often played the "bad girl"/Veronica to Mary Jane Watson's "good girl"/Betty. Why do cat-themed characters get such a bad rap...often villains (like Wonder Woman villain Cheetah), boyfriend-stealers, or both?
On the other side of the spectrum, there are a few cat-themed heroines that don't fit in the feline femme fatale mold. Hellcat, using Tigra's old "Cat" costume, has never struck me as the particularly seductive type (romance/marriage with the Son of Satan notwithstanding). Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat hasn't really ever incorporated cat-like themes outside of her name, but definitely didn't fall into the Catwoman/Tigra/Black Cat territory.
This brings us back to Vampirella pal Pantha, a character from the original Harris run of the famous vamp's adventures who hails from ancient Egypt. Judging from the sample pages from the first issue, this feline character seems to be playing very much to "type"...though in the Vampirella universe, everything seems to be a bit more sexy.
Are cat-themed superheroines in need of a rehabilitation? Should they put on more clothes? Or will steering such characters in the other direction only "neuter" them, in a sense, making them fit more as mere housecats? Let us know what you think!