I know a lot of folks have seen that picture of Ben Affleck in his new Batman suit. Like many others who saw it, I thought it looked a lot like Catman. When making that joke, lots of people asked “Who’s Catman?” Well why not use this as a teaching moment? So here we are to answer your questions. Short answer: He’s basically Catwoman and Batman combined; long answer: well, let’s get to it.
Thomas Reese Blake used to be one of the finest hunters and trappers of wild jungle cats, so good that he got bored with it. This was around the rise of masked heroes and villains. Catwoman’s gimmick intrigued him so he decided to take after her style. She was not a fan of someone using her M.O. since it often led the cops and Batman after her, so it was no surprise that she’d team up with Batman to stop him and make it known that she wasn’t the only cat burglar with a cat theme.
Catman would occasionally team up with Catwoman over the years. As time went on, though, Catman became a joke amongst other villains, and pretty much spent most of his time out of service. It wasn’t until Monsieur Mallah had him captured so that he could eat Thomas, did it set him on a new path. Narrowly escaping, Thomas fled to the Savannah of Africa to live amongst the lions. After rebuilding himself and finding solace amongst nature, it was no surprise that when Lex Luthor was looking to recruit him for the Secret Society of Super Villains, he turned Luthor down.
His time with the lions was cut short when the pride of lions he’d been living with were slaughtered. Believing this to be Luthor’s retaliation, he vowed to take down Luthor and the Secret Society of Super Villains. Joining up with the Secret Six as Catman, he learned that it was not Luthor, but his fellow teammate, Deadshot, who killed the lions. This was so Thomas would be inspired to join the Secret Six. Deadshot eventually apologized and Thomas forgave him.
While with the Six, teammate Cheshire would point out that despite being a career criminal, he was acting far more like a hero than a villain. Thomas and Cheshire had a child together, Thomas Jr., while working on the team. After events that had sent Thomas and many other villains to a prison planet, he returned to Africa to try for a peaceful life once more. After killing a group of poachers, he wondered if such a life was something he could ever attain.
He eventually became the leader of the Secret Six, and took on such opponents as Batman, Hell itself, Amazons, and many others. He lost the leadership role, but stayed on the team. Eventually, he and the team were taken down and arrested in Gotham when Bane led them to take on Batman and his allies.
So there you have it! Catman is a dude who is sort of a joke turned reasonably cool character. Gotta love that about comics. Well, see you all next time. Be proud at how I made no cat puns or noises in this article.
Detective Comics #311
Batman: Shadow of the Bat
Dr. Alexander Bustos