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Literature / Catwoman: Soulstealer

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Catwoman: Soulstealer is a young adult novel by Sarah J. Maas published in 2018, with a Comic-Book Adaptation published in 2021, about Catwoman.

After years abroad, Selina Kyle returns to Gotham, pretending to be the rich heiress Holly Vanderhess. She's young, she's clever, she's dangerous.

Finding friends in Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, she plans to take on the whole city!

Meanwhile, Luke Fox, son of Lucius Fox, wants to prove to Bruce Wayne that he can handle being the only vigilante in the city. Soon, he clashes with the mysterious Catwoman and her friends.

And how is the League of Shadows involved in all of this?

The novel is part of the DC Icons series.

This book has examples of the following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: Selina's mom was abusive to her. Though she doesn't go into many details, Selina does relate that her mom once broke her arm while high and angry with her.
  • Action Girl: Selina is very skilled at martial arts, and was once a champion fighter in an underground ring. Nyssa Al-Ghul, who trains her to became a League of Shadows Assassin, is highly skilled as well, and very ruthless. Ivy and Harley, who Selina becomes criminal partners/friends with are also pretty good in a fight.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Leopards, a girl gang which Selina joined, who are well known for being skilled in armed or unarmed combat. Selina later is recruited by the League of Shadows to become one of their Assassins, who are mostly women in the book, and even more renowned for their deadly prowess.
  • Animal Motifs: The cat for Selina, obviously. She also used to be part of the Leopards, a girl gang. And of course the Bat for Luke.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Well, Big Sister Instinct. Selina adores her little sister Maggie. In the end, it turns out that everything Selina did was to save Maggie, who was incurably ill with cystic fibrosis, and could only be saved by a Lazarus Pit. She succeeds too.
  • Can't Have Sex, Ever: Implied to maybe be the case for Ivy, as she mentions even if Harley wanted it, they might be unable to have an intimate relationship since contact with Ivy's skin could be dangerous, as she emits toxins.
  • Cardboard Prison: As usual, Arkham Asylum and Blackgate Penitentiary are easily broken out of. Selina twice in a row breaks Joker's thugs out of the latter. Later she's herself broken out of Arkham along with Joker himself easily.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Louise Simonson and Samantha Dodge write one for the DC Ink imprint.
  • Commitment Issues: Harley has them. Ivy is in love with her, but Harley doesn't want a relationship after what happened with the Joker.
  • The Commissioner Gordon: The Trope Namer himself, in his usual role as a Reasonable Authority Figure who aids the superheroes Batman and Batwing.
  • Dating Catwoman: In a book about the Trope Namer, of course this trope shows up! Here it's Selina, obviously, and Luke, who are attracted to one another despite being on opposite sides.
  • Dirty Cop: One of the cops called to her apartment openly steals Selina's money stash after illegally searching the place. It's indicated another white officer quite likely illegally searched a black teen and found the marijuana he was carrying also, or even simply planted it, though Luke insures that the kid will get a good defense lawyer.
  • Disappeared Dad: Selina and her sister Maggie have different fathers. Neither knows them, not even their names. Selina has never even met hers, while Maggie's left when she was very young.
  • The Dreaded: The Joker. Everyone seems scared of him.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Luke's is when, on entering a police station to speak with Commissioner Gordon, he spots a teenage black boy who is under arrest for marijuana possession. He soon suspects it's possibly planted or the result of the officer illegally searching him given what he's said. Luke first asks if he's okay, then demands he be given a blanket due to still being dripping wet from the rain outside. He then calls up a friend of his who's a lawyer who will represent the kid, hopefully exposing any illegality and or insure he's not simply railroaded through court, showing he's a compassionate, socially conscious man.
  • Fight Clubbing: How Selina earns the money to take care of her little sister in the beginning of the book.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Selina and Ivy. They start out as rivals over a theft, become partners in crime, then develop a friendship as they get closer.
  • The Ghost: Bruce Wayne never shows up, despite the book taking place in Gotham, and one of the main characters being his mentee and the other his comic girlfriend.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: Selina calls her old friends among the Leopards to protect the hospital during the riot. They come at once.
  • Happily Adopted: Maggie Kyle, as arranged by Talia al Ghul as part of her deal with Selina. Maggie's parents turn out to be two very nice men who adopted her despite knowing that she was likely to die soon, and who she loves very much.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Luke, who's the superhero Batwing, grows very distraught when Selina temporarily dies.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: Luke calls Selina Robin Hood after learning she gives a lot of the money from her thefts to help the poor (after having grown up in poverty herself, struggling to make ends meet).
  • Love Cannot Overcome: Ivy lets the police arrest Harley, despite being in love with her. At that point, however, Harley herself has realized that she needs help, and doesn't fight the police, either. Ivy expresses the hope the Harley can get the help she needs and really get better.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Commissioner Gordon, as usual. He is a good, sensible man who aids the superheroes fighting crime in Gotham.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Arguably Luke for Bruce, from a Doylist perspective. In the comics, Selina and Bruce are of an age, and it's Bruce and Selina who have a romantic relationship. Luke and Selina are not particularly linked in the comics.
  • The Reveal: Selina betrayed the League and stole the things she needs for a Lazarus Pit in order to heal her terminally ill little sister Maggie.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Luke was a Marine in Iraq, and lost many members of his unit to an IUD attack. Since then, he's developed PTSD and suffered traumatic flashbacks triggered by things like fireworks. He's taking medication and goes to therapy, but has panic attacks nonetheless at times.
  • The Social Darwinist: After learning the Lazarus Pit can heal people, Selina asks Nyssa if Maggie can use it to cure her cystic fibrosis. In response Nyssa says it's natural selection and the Pit won't be provided to "useless" people like Maggie. This convinces Selina to steal the Pit's formula so she can make one for Maggie herself. Even earlier, Selina noted that the League likes its trainees fighting each other when competing (including them throwing rocks at people ahead in hopes of slowing or stopping them), to weed out the weak so survival of the fittest takes place, saying (after learning about it in biology) they take Darwinism pretty far. It's also possibly their motive for plotting against Gotham, viewing it as corrupt, thus possibly weak and unfit to remain existing using their Social Darwinist philosophy.
  • Tattooed Crook: Selina and other Leopards get spot tattoos on their arms as a gang sign, with new spots each time they win fights. However, mostly she keeps them covered with long sleeves so they aren't recognized given the Leopards are known as a gang in Gotham and it could get Selina in trouble.
  • True Companions: Selina and Ivy, and Selina and Luke by the end. Ivy and Luke seem to get along well enough, too. All at least have grown close enough to sacrifice for each other, even putting themselves in harm's way on each other's behalves.
  • The Unmasking: Selina realizes Batwing's true identity when she witnesses Luke have a panic attack very much like the one he had as Batwing earlier. Catwoman's identity is revealed when she lets herself get arrested and brought to Arkham as part of her plan. Also, Luke realizes that Holly Vanderhess is actually Selina Kyle when he sees the a girl gang guard a hospital during the Joker's outbreak.
  • Was It All a Lie?: Luke briefly wonders this when he learns that Holly is Catwoman. He then decides to catch her and ask.

Alternative Title(s): Catwoman Soulstealer