"Catwoman Defiant": Mob boss Mister Handsome has become obsessed with collecting things of beauty, and then destroying them. He leads a gang called the Model Army, who all wear masks that give the outward appearance of a handsome man. One night, as Catwoman is thievin
- I might be a lot of things, but I'm not a killer.
- — Catwoman
Catwoman: Defiant is a one-shot with a cover date of July, 1992.
Appearing in "Catwoman Defiant"
- Mister Handsome (Single appearance)
Synopsis for "Catwoman Defiant"
Mob boss Mister Handsome has become obsessed with collecting things of beauty, and then destroying them. He leads a gang called the Model Army, who all wear masks that give the outward appearance of a handsome man. One night, as Catwoman is thieving a set of pearls, she comes face-to-face with one of Mister Handsome's men - the third one in a week - who hopes to capture her and take her back to his employer. She manages to evade him at first, but eventually he and his companions knock her off the roof.
She lands at the feet of the Batman, who knocks out her immediate attackers and scares off the others. Catwoman urges him to chase the remainder down, but instead, he targets her, knowing that she will escape with the pearls if he lets her out of his sight. Besides, he says, she is in danger. Selina thinks that she can take care of herself, and attempts to escape him, but he gets her in a tight grip. He admits that he can't hand her over to the police just now, as he needs her - they need each other.
Elsewhere, Mister Handsome's men are growing annoyed with their employer's apparent wastefulness. The money they steal gets spent on beautiful works of art, but then Mister Handsome destroys it all. Meanwhile, he's asked them to capture Catwoman, who seems to be more trouble than she's worth in any case. One man, explains that ever since Mister Handsome's wife died, he's taken out his feelings of ugliness on beautiful things. There's still plenty of money to go around, but it's been two months, and everyone is starting to wonder if Mister Handsome has lost his grip on reality. The men begin dragging an angry dog into a mine elevator, and they ride it down to the bottom. According to their master's demands, they release the dog into the mine shaft, and try desperately to make the elevator go back up before they have to hear the dog get ripped to shreds by what lives down there.
Meanwhile, Batman and Catwoman have captured one of the Model Army. Batman explains the nature of the gang, and admits that he'd been following them as they followed her, hoping they would lead him to Handsome's Headquarters. Regardless, Catwoman would like to know why they've targeted her at all. The captured man pipes up to say that Handsome has become obsessed with collecting things of beauty, and that he will relish every moment of destroying the beauty that is Catwoman. Before he can get much more descriptive, she kicks him in the mouth. Batman intends to use Catwoman as bait for the Model Army to catch, and then take her back to Handsome's headquarters, so Batman can take him down. She must go along with the plan, or spend five to ten years in jail.
Later, Batman has Catwoman crawl around on a window ledge, waiting for the Model Army to catch her in his full view. She begins to grow bored until a cat crawls out a window and joins her. She takes this as a sign that she needs to make her bait more convincing by robbing whomever the cat belongs to. Batman catches her, and she explains her plan to be cover up the fact that it's a trap by working. She dares him to try to take the jewels she stole back from her - if only she hadn't stuffed them down the front of her costume. Suddenly, Batman is alerted by cries for help below. When he investigates, he discovers that it was a ploy by the Model Army. When he sees who they are, he rushes back to Catwoman's hiding place, only to discover that she has been replaced with a dummy - and that dummy is a ticking time-bomb. Batman only has seconds to leap clear of the blast.
Catwoman, meanwhile, has been captured and left in Mister Handsome's mine-shaft. She wakes to a video monitor showing Mister Handsome's face, admiring her beauty. He warns that the ominous howl from deeper within the caverns is a beast that is going to tear her to pieces - much to his delight. She tries to get up and escape, only to find that she has been shackled to a statue of Venus, adding to the irony. Hearing the creature's groans getting louder and realizing that escape may not be so easy, Selina's face betrays her fear for a moment. This brings Mister Handsome great pleasure, as the beauty of her confidence has been shattered.
Catwoman begins dragging the statue deeper into the mine, unsure of which way to go. She spots a skeleton at her feet, and Mister Handsome's voice gleefully warns that it is one of the creature's victims; its bones picked clean. Catwoman continues on cautiously, until she feels the creature's claws on her shoulders.
At Wayne Manor, Alfred Pennyworth suggests that Batman just beat answers out of the man he's captured. Bruce has a more humane plan in mind. He has left the man in the Batcave as the rats and bats swarm around him. Finally, the man's fear gets the better of him, and he cries out that he will tell Batman anything. Surrounded by a swarm of bats, Batman rises up and demands to know where Mister Handsome is.
As Catwoman struggles away from the creature, she is unable to get far, as the statue still weighs her down. She can only cower in the face of its menacing approach. Suddenly, a cloaked figure with a torch appears, and waves the monster back. The figure urges Catwoman to crawl through a narrow passage where the beast can't follow. With some time bought, the figure begins breaking the chains that bind Selina to the statue. The figure introduces herself as Mary - the former wife of Mister Handsome. For all intents and purposes, she is as dead as others claim, having been thrown down into the mines because her husband no longer found her beautiful. As she grew older, she had got more and more cosmetic surgeries, until the last few went awry, and there was nothing that could be done to retrieve her former beauty. In his disgust, Mister Handsome had thrown her to the beast, as he did with all of those who failed him.
Mary admits that there is a way out of the mine, but she couldn't escape by herself. With Selina's help, they may both get out alive. However, Mary will only help Selina escape on the condition that once she is free, she kills Mister Handsome. Selina tries to explain that killing is not in her nature, and a cry from the beast urges them onward. They find themselves at the mouth of a deep, deep chasm which extends up toward the surface, and downward to untold depths. The two women are forced to inch up, back to back. As they make their way upward, Mary explains that if Catwoman won't kill Mister Handsome, she will.
When the women reach the top of the shaft, they are at a loss for how to get out of their current position, and to safety. Mary suggests that they count to three and try to spin around. Selina is skeptical that they will make it, but Mary starts counting anyway. In trying to make the leap, only Selina manages to get a grip on the edge of the chasm, while Mary grabs her ankle, hanging on for her life. Selina begs her companion to hang on, but the older woman's grip begins to weaken. Before losing her hold on Selina completely, Mary makes her promise to kill Mister Handsome, but she warns her not to remove the man's mask before she kills him. Selina refuses to let Mary go, but the woman's grip loosens, and she falls back down the shaft to her inevitable death.
Catwoman pulls herself up, and easily makes her way into Mister Handsome's armory, taking out the guards along the way. She sets the place on fire, destroying all of the arms inside, and simultaneously signalling the Batman. She grabs one of the escaping guards and forces him to take her to his leader.
Inside Mister Handsome's room, she finds him looking into a mirror worth two hundred thousand dollars. Despite its beauty, he loathes it. He concedes that Catwoman has won, having failed to let her fear ruin her beauty. Somehow, she has allowed the beauty within her to live side-by-side with the beast within her. Catwoman puts a gun to his head and demands that he take off his mask. He refuses, but she tears it from his face. To her horror, she discovers that this is not Mister Handsome at all - it is Mary. Angrily, Selina demands to know why the woman tried to trick her into murdering her. Mary explains that just as she wanted to destroy everything beautiful, she wanted something beautiful to destroy her.
Suddenly, the roof collapses on top of them both, the foundations of the building having been weakened by the armoury explosions. Selina struggles to get free, but the debris is too heavy. Pinned down, Mary reveals that the skeleton that Selina saw earlier was Mister Handsome's. She had killed her husband first, knowing that if he had seen how ugly she'd become, he would have killed her. She then assumed his identity, and began destroying all of the things he prized.
Selina feels the debris being lifted off of her, and assumes it is the Batman, but she is startled to find that it is the beast from the mine. Catwoman stands aside as the creature advances on Mary. The older woman cries out that she wanted to be killed by something beautiful as Catwoman leaves the room.
Outside, Catwoman bumps into Batman, who has been capturing members of the Model Army as they fled the explosions. Looking at the door behind her, he assumes that Mister Handsome is still inside, and Catwoman allows him to believe that. When he steps inside, she giggles to herself, hearing him cry out in horror at the sight of the creature.
Later, Batman manages to subdue both Mary and the creature, and muses at how he was tricked. Meanwhile, Catwoman has kept the valuable mirror for herself.
- A Prestige-format graphic novel released, alongside Penguin Triumphant, to coincide with the film Batman Returns.
- Catwoman never appears out of costume in this story.
- Catwoman Recommended Reading