This obscure DC Comics character has but one real appearance, in 1952. He’s Catwoman’s brother.
If you want a whole lotta context, you can first read our series of chronological Catwoman character profiles. Or ask your cat.
- Real Name: Karl Kyle.
- Other Aliases: The story freely alternates between “King of the Cats” and “Cat King” as his nom de super-bandit.
- Known Relatives: Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman, sister).
- Group Affiliation: None.
- Base of Operations: Gotham City (in 1952).
- Height: 5’11” (1.80m). Weight: 180 lbs. (82 Kg.).
- Eyes: Green. Hair: Black (w/dashing moustache).
Powers & Abilities
The Cat King is a powerful fighter, athlete and acrobat.
He’s a match for the Batman of 1952, or even a smidgen better.
He also uses some special equipment :
- His gloves have small steel claws, which likely help with climbing. The costume’s tail might be useful for acrobatic balance, but it’s negligible.
- He sometimes drives a distinctive roadster, the Kitty Car. It seems reasonable to assume it’s the same car Catwoman used to drive (stolen from police custody ?). If so, it has jump jets.
- He’ll produce specialised equipment for his crimes. One example was a two-shot air rifle loaded with sleeping gas/smoke pellets.
For the hep cats in the audience, here’s thematically appropriate 1952 music to accompany this article. Les Paul & Mary Ford were big back then.
Karl Kyle is the brother of Selina Kyle. Their dad operated a pets shop in downtown Gotham, specialising in cats. He taught them a lot about kitties.
So yes, I guess Karl is a pet shop boy .
Lost and found
Karl lost contact with his sister circa 1938. Selina had been rendered amnesiac in a plane crash. Having forgotten who she was, she created a new life for herself as the famous criminal, the Cat Woman.
This lasted until 1950, when she recovered her memory and reformed. Selina and Karl were then reunited.
Batman once recognised one of Karl’s techniques as a circus trick, and Karl seemed comfortable with both acrobatics and lions. It thus seems likely that he worked with circuses during the 1940s.
However, by 1952, he (and his dashing moustache) had become fed up with his meagre income.
Hold that tiger, hold that tiger, where’s that tiger ?
Karl had apparently admired Catwoman’s skill and daring crimes even before he learned that she was his sister. To succeed her, he created the King Of The Cats identity.
Soon, Gotham again knew what we all have come to fear in our daily lives – cat-crimes ! The Cat King’s methods were more forceful than Catwoman’s, but otherwise similar.
Cat-crimes included :
- Robbing a jewelry store, whilst setting loose a bunch of cats equipped with little bags on their collar. Everybody assumed that the cats had been given loot to carry away, as during an infamous Catwoman heist. But this was just a distraction – the brooches in the cats’ bags were fakes. The Cat King had left with the actual jewels.
- Sending a house cat to distract a cats-loving security guard. The kitty’s fur had been charged with static electricity. Thus, when Kyle came in and the guard drew his revolver, he received an electrical shock from having caressed the friendly feline. This allowed the Cat King to punch him unconscious and steal the money.
- Narrowly escaping the Batman by using a large block of stone as ballast, allowing Kyle to do a 200+ feet (60+ metres) high dive without serious harm.
- Kidnapping a rare black lion, using a rifle loaded with knockout smoke pellets.
Am I my brother’s keeper ?
During his cat-crime wave, Karl kept visiting his sister. He offered her a place at his side as the Queen of Crime.
But Selina kept refusing. She instead tried to convince him to reform, and return the stolen goods.
Batman and Robin realised this. But the jealous Wayne misinterpreted, thinking that Karl was Selina’s lover. The confusion lasted for a while, since Selina assumed that Batman knew she had a brother.
Ms. Kyle even once knocked out the Dynamic Duo (from behind and with a big vase, of course) to prevent the Cat King’s arrest.
Eventually a brawl between Batman and the King Of The Cats broke bad. Both ended up stunned in front of angry big cats.
But Catwoman used Karl’s tranq rifle to take out the tiger threatening her brother. She then jumped in to shoo away the tiger threatening Batman. Never send boys to do a catwoman’s work !
Since Selina had just saved his life, Karl felt morally obligated to accept his sister’s plea that he surrender and go straight. Batman pointed out that prison could allow Karl Kyle (and his dashing moustache) to learn more marketable skills.
(It is implied that Karl also returns the stolen goods as Selina wanted him to. Thus, Batman assumes that the former Cat King won’t be behind bars for that long.)
(The size of Selina’s pet shop varies during the early 1950s. But it seems that it’s too small to support Karl as well as Selina.)
Return of the King
In 2006, a man named Karl and dressed in the King Of The Cats costume was seen at a super-powers convention.
He was among the various D- and E-list costumed heroes making a little extra money by meeting with fans, selling merch, participating in panels, and other comic-books-con-like activities.
There’s no other info, and post-Crisis Selina Kyle doesn’t have a brother. Furthermore, this convention scene is laced with Easter eggs referencing elements that disappeared during the Crisis.
(The implication might be that a version of some pre-Crisis events and characters did take place post-Crisis, but was so minor and uninspiring it was never chronicled. This would serve as a metaphor about the editorial choice of removing inconvenient, dated, nonsensical… stories from the rejuvenated DC Universe. Or maybe, heh, Hypertime .)
Swashbuckling type, concerned with looking masterful and dashing.
Like Catwoman, he works non-lethally. But unlike Catwoman he’ll punch people unconscious.
The Cat King is primarily a thief. He’s after the moolah.
His sister is very important to him. Karl wanted to share his victories with her so she’d get loot and influence. Since they cared so much for each other, it seems likely Selina would have convinced Karl to stop his scheme sooner or later.
DC Heroes RPG
King Of The Cats
|Dex: 06||Str: 04||Bod: 04|
|Int: 04||Wil: 04||Min: 03|
|Inf: 04||Aur: 03||Spi: 03|
|Init: 016||HP: 025|
Acrobatics: 05, Martial Artist: 05, Thief: 05, Vehicles (Land): 05, Weaponry: 05
Familiarity (Gotham underworld, High diving, Circus work, Cats lore).
Dependent (His sister, zero points).
- CLAWED GLOVES [BODY 04, Claws: 03, Enhance (Acrobatics (Climbing)): 03 (cap is 09)].
- KITTY CAR [STR 04 BODY 06, Flash: 03, Jumping: 02, Running: 07, R#02, Creepy Appearance, Notes: Flash is Steady Illumination Only, Jumping likely has Ammo: 01 and can only add to the vertical distance the car would normally be able to jump].
He’s a 1952 character so I went with blocky Skills. Since he’d likely be able to demonstrate any Subskill necessary to advance the plot.
That the gloves aid in climbing isn’t clearly demonstrated, but seems likely. Ditto for most of his Familiarities.
The combat stats match assumed numbers for Batman in 1952, making them about equal. But there hasn’t been research yet as to Batman’s 1950s scores.
Source of Character: Batman vol . 1 #69.
Helper(s): Kevin Berger, Darci.
Writeup completed on the 6th of November, 2018.