Holly Robinson is a notable Catwoman supporting character.
She had an inauspicious debut in 1987, but was greatly developed during the Catwoman runs of the 2000s.
This profile is meant to be read after the Catwoman (Mindy Newell take) profile. Which explains a lot of context for Holly’s early appearances.
This profile stops with the early pages of Catwoman Vol. 3 #20 (cover-dated August, 2003). At which point Holly’s life comes to a turning point.
Which, among other consequences, rewrites her game stats. So that’s better covered in a separate writeup.
- Real Name: Holly Robinson.
- Former Aliases: “Holly Go-Nightly”.
- Known Relatives: Davey (brother) and apparently another brother.
- Group Affiliation: Partner of Catwoman.
- Base of Operations: The East End neighbourhood of Gotham City.
- Height: 5’3 ½” (1.61 m). Weight: 115 lbs. (52 Kg.).
- Eyes: Blue. Hair: Red-orange.
Powers & Abilities
Ms. Robinson is familiar with Gotham City street life, sex work and street crime.
She knows basic knife handling and has experience with street violence. But that doesn’t mean genuine combat skills.
Having been through many terrible experiences, she’s hardened to an extent. She doesn’t have a heroic level of resolve, but demonstrated spurts of courage and self-collection.
She also has a strong power of psychological recovery (or “resilience”, if you absolutely insist). She’s been able to put a lot of hurt behind her and keep moving, even recovering an ability to act carefree.
As a survival strategy, she gradually developed her people skills – and networked. After several years of this, she had a remarkable number of reliable friends on the East End streets and nearby prisons.
This also means that Holly is a surprisingly capable detective. She’s solid at legwork, she knows how most criminals work, she’s good at establishing rapport, she’s smarter than she looks, etc..
Further skills she acquired include :
- Adjusting her appearance for sex appeal via clothing, makeup, hair styling, etc..
- Basic handgun operation.
- Boosting and driving cars.
- Stealth and surveillance.
Something good and suitable to evoke 1987, mmm…
Let’s simply go for Guns ‘n’ Roses’ Welcome to the jungle.
It was from their debut album, which also means that the video is interesting. Visually, it’s still using 1980s hair metal codes. But musically, they’re creating what became a large chunk of the 1990s hard rock sound.
History (part 1)
Holly was raised with her brother Davey in a broken home. Their parents fought all the time.
The kids eventually ran away. But they quickly lost contact with each other.
(One flashback shows two little boys along with Holly in their parents’ car. So it seems likely, but is not established, that she had another brother).
At about 12 or 13, Holly found herself on the street. She began turning tricks, working as a junior prostitute.
Her street handle was “Holly Go-Nightly”. That was a pun on Audrey Hepburn’s character in classic 1961 movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. A colleague or client presumably was a cinephileA person fond of cinema..
Holly ended up on the stable of one Stan – a murderous and manipulative East End pimp.
Thankfully, a slightly older colleague named Selina took her under her protection. She served as a buffer against Stan, watched the johns (paedophiliac customers being frequently more dangerous) and took Holly in as a flatmate.
With Selina as an ever-present best friend/big sister figure, Holly survived her streetwalker years in more or less one piece.
Holly once stated that she met Selina when a patrol officer tried to extort her in an alley. Ms. Kyle knocked the cop out to defend her.
It is possible that Holly’s telling was an exaggeration to impress her girlfriend. As she describes it Selina was wearing leather, Black Queen (Selene Gallio)-style lingerie, which seems… odd.
This scene would also imply that Holly and Selina met after Ms. Kyle had started training with Mr. Grant. She already knew how to hit people, and already had the buzzcut. But again, Holly’s telling might not be scrupulously exact.
Furtherworse, later tellings altered when Selina learned to fight, as well as the circumstances in which she changed her hair to a buzzcut, as well as what she was doing before she met Stan, as well as… you get the idea.
Therefore : fnord .
The cat wants out
Selina was eventually inspired to walk out of the life, and make her money as a costumed thief. Soon, she and Holly didn’t have to turn tricks anymore.
Ms. Robinson thus watched Ms. Kyle become Catwoman.
Stan attempted to reassert control over them. That led to his mostly accidental death at Catwoman’s hand.
However, whilst Selina was away, Holly was badly beaten by a police captain with well-hidden sexual fixations. Batman (Bruce Wayne) narrowly prevented Catwoman from killing the crooked cop in retaliation.
With Holly wounded and Selina on the run, Ms. Robinson was taken in by Selina’s sister, Sister Magdalene. Maggie had Holly live at her church’s charitable facilities, and resume mainstream activities such as school.
As discussed in our corresponding Catwoman character chronicle, the next appearance of Holly and Selina seems to have only existed in a stillborn “branch” of continuity.
In it, Holly :
- Was now in her early 20s.
- Grew up to become a bimbo. But a nice bimbo.
- Married a rich dude named Arthur.
- Moved to his countryside mansion “in Jersey”.
The day the music died
However, Selina was forced to give an extremely valuable jewel to her unsuspecting buddy Holly.
Ms. Kyle’s goal was for Holly to unknowingly smuggle it out of a hairy situation. So Selina would recover it once the heat was down.
But Arthur discovered this. In order to steal the jewel and run away with his other lover he bombed his own house – with his wife still inside.
Selina got Holly out seconds before the blast, but Ms. Robinson was fatally wounded.
The day the music was remixed
Howbeit, these events were mistakenly overlooked in later stories. Ooops.
The simplest explanation is that this branch of reality was erased during the 1994 Zero Hour cosmic crisis. Therefore, these events retroactively never took place.
Comics, everybody !
History (part 2)
Holly attempted to stick with the convent life for a time. But she had trouble with the order and discipline expected of her.
Furthermore, during that time, Magdalene Kyle came to realise that she wanted out.
The pair ended up stealing a car and fleeing all the way to San Francisco. Maggie did reinvent her life there, but Holly messed it up. She returned to sex work, and became addicted to unspecified injectable narcotics.
(Since she learned to efficiently style herself for sex appeal during that span, it is *possible* that she moved upmarket during that time. As a call girl).
(Since Holly couldn’t be given opioid painkillers after she kicked her addiction, it seems likely that she was doing heroin).
Return to Gotham
In 2001 or 2002, Holly returned to Gotham – and to the East End. She seemed about 17 at that point.
She met a slightly older girl named Karon, who became her girlfriend. It seems likely that Karon’s loving support is what allowed Holly to break her addiction.
However, a serial killer started murdering local prostitutes.
Scared, Holly remembered that Selina had once set up a safe house using her ill-gotten gains. When needed, she or her friends could lay low in this otherwise unoccupied flat.
Robinson eventually located one of the hidden sets of keys to that apartment – which was still intact after all these years. To her shock, she found the reportedly dead Kyle there.
After her apparent death, Selina had been reevaluating her life. But learning that the East End prostitutes were being terrorised and murdered contributed to her return as Catwoman.
Catwoman now acted as a protector and vigilante, with a focus on the East End’s most vulnerable folks. She hired Holly to be her aide and her eyes on the street. This position was well-compensated, in cash.
Having her best friend back, and suddenly escaping from poverty and precariousness, transformed Ms. Robinson’s life.
However, one of Holly’s investigations unearthed a ring of crooked cops, who had just murdered an undercover officer. They shot Holly.
Catwoman’s swift intervention saved Holly’s life. And Dr. Leslie Thompkins ensured that there was no permanent damage from the wound. But Robinson was framed for the murder.
Allying with private detective “Slam” Bradley and untouchable Major Crimes GCPD detective Crispus Allen, Catwoman took down most of the corrupt cops. She then made a deal to clear Holly’s name.
However, the corrupt detectives were ultimately working for Black Mask (Roman Sionis). This led to a war between the crime lord and Catwoman.
Know that the mask destroys one identity
Knowing that Selina Kyle was Catwoman, the sadistic Black Mask launched a multi-pronged assault against everything she held dear.
Among other devastating blows, Maggie Kyle was tortured and broken.
Holly would have been murdered, but Slam Bradley pushed her out of the way of the car seeking to ram her. The impact nearly killed him.
Shocked, Holly nevertheless continued investigating. But that only led to the discovery that Selina’s childhood friend Sylvia Sinclair had betrayed her. Holly was captured by Sylvia’s gangs of urchins.
Catwoman eventually turned the tables, letting Black Mask fall to his seeming death.
She was nearly shot dead by Sylvia Sinclair, but Holly, who had freed herself, shot Sylvia first.
Holly was left in shock by Black Mask’s horrors – and having killed Sylvia. She spent most of her time at Karon’s place, but was clearly experiencing PTSD .
Seeing that Maggie was left so hurt that she was now unresponsive also did a number on Holly’s morale. Ms. Robinson stole a bottle of opioid pills from Maggie’s hospital room, fearing that she wouldn’t make it without drugs.
She also avoided Selina, who wasn’t doing well either. But with Batman’s help, Selina recovered and reached out to Karon.
Though she was terrified after having discovered Holly’s stolen oxycontin pills, Karon was instrumental in having Holly and Selina support each other to recover from their ordeal.
Better Ted than dead
By this point it was clear that Holly was too deeply involved in Catwoman’s activities. Karon even jokingly called her a sidekick, to Holly’s protests.
Selina took Holly on a recreational road trip, to help them both recover from the Black Mask ordeal.
But Ms. Kyle had plans to address Holly’s role in her Catwoman activities, and had made a few phone calls beforehand.
When she was 13-ish, Holly was fond of dyeing her hair magenta. But dyes back then didn’t last for too long. So it often was honey blonde or orange-ish red instead.
She was also going for a mid-1980s pop star perm hairdo. Complete with a slim headband along her upper forehead, to keep the volumised hair up. I think Cyndi Lauper had something like that at one point.
She also spoke with a slight drawl and with an emphasised tonic accent. Since it went away as she got older, it was prolly more a product of being a kid than a regional accent. Perhaps she did vocal fry before it was fashionable.
After Selina became a thief, Holly badgered her so she could wear some of the minor, least distinctive bits of stolen jewellery. Usually some sort of pearl necklace.
During her 2000s appearance, Holly seems to be 17 or so. Though with age I’ve gotten terrible at estimating kids’ age, so I could easily be off.
She dresses in common fashions for an early 2000s girl her age. With a working class slant when on the street, though she can switch to more middle-class codes when dressing up.
- Originally she sported a short bob with two little brush-like tufts up.
- Then a layered bob held with small clips. It seems that she started using the same clips as Karon.
- Then she switched to a shaggier, spikier bob – perhaps to look more like Selina.
She also mostly stops dyeing her hair, going with her apparently natural red-orange.
Despite her harsh life, Holly often has teenage-girl-style, slightly childish mannerisms and body language bits.
Personality (circa age 13)
Back when she was 13, Holly wasn’t the brightest or the quickest. She also tended to take everything at face value.
She could come across as needy and whiny. If you decided to ignore just how much crap and trauma she was constantly enduring, that is – and I’m not sure why you’d want to do that.
She was constantly scared and hurt, and craved any sort of emotional support or sense of normality/stability she could find. But she tried her best not to let it show.
Having been yeeted off of society when she was very young, she just didn’t see the point of what structures the life of most kids her age. Such as obedience, daily routines, authority figures, etc.. And she was well aware of how many people love to see her ilk suffer and die.
Even back then Holly apparently was a solid and helpful friend. Though she couldn’t usually do much, she was determined to help defend her buddies and her colleagues.
Personality (circa age 17)
By this point Holly is more mature, more collected, and much better at controlling her image. She’s good at coming across as a well-adjusted, heartfelt teenager – and at not letting her suffering define her too much.
Building herself a better life against all odds has become her core motivation.
This becomes possible once Selina gives her an income. Holly’s life becomes stable enough that there isn’t always something that’ll wreck her savings, so she can actually escape squalor and poverty this time. Using the power of money.
She’s big on tabloid junk such as celebrities news, superstitious chain letters, personality tests, and the like.
A friend who bleeds is better
Holly’s most admirable quality is her dogged — so to speak — loyalty toward her friends and lover. She’ll do anything to support them and make them happy, and can be remarkably selfless.
Holly’s empathic nature makes her support Selina’s quest for justice for the downtrodden. On the other hand, it also makes her feel responsible for everything that goes wrong around her, even if she has no control whatsoever over it.
Holly very much lucked out when she met Karon. Her lover seems to be a slightly older student working part-time at a local deli. Karon is a smart, loving and responsible lass. And she too will do anything she can to support her loved ones.
Ms. Robinson feels that her pride sometimes leads her to take excessive risks. This isn’t wrong, but it’s more a testament to her courage than falling prey to any sort of hubris. She’s much too grounded for the latter.
DC Heroes RPG
Tell me more about the game stats
Holly (circa 17)
|Dex: 02||Str: 02||Bod: 02|
|Int: 03||Wil: 03||Min: 03|
|Inf: 03||Aur: 03||Spi: 03|
|Init: 008||HP: 010|
Accuracy (Sensing that somebody is a cop): 04, Artist (Actress): 02, Detective (Legwork): 04, Thief (Locks & safes, Stealth): 03, Vehicles (Land): 03, Weaponry (Street weapons): 02
Area Knowledge (Gotham East End), Familiarity (House cats caretaking, Sex work), Financial Backing (Rich – Selina Kyle).
Catwoman (Selina Kyle) (High), Slam Bradley P.I. (High), Dr. Leslie Thompkins (High), Street (High), Underworld (Low).
Misc.: as a recovering addict, Holly must avoid exposure to narcotics (including painkillers) and alcohol.
A circa-the-year-2000 flip-open cellphone.
Holly (circa 13)
As a kid she had DEX 02 STR 01 BODY 02, Wealth 002 – plus Evasion (Ranged Only): 03 to represent what Shrinking actually did for her.
All her Mentals and Mysticals were 02 and she had no Hero Points.
It seems that she already had a Low Street Connection. Which was impressive for her age.
Back then she was carrying a small switchblade knife. It seemed standard issue for streetwalker self-defense in this area and era. Poor-quality switchblade [BODY 02, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 03), Miniaturisation: 01, Limited Penetration, Descriptor: Piercing].
The Hero Points number is highballed. It’s that Holly almost never spends them, keeping everything in reserve to survive when the faecal matter genuinely impacts the air mixer.
Source of Character: DC Comics 1987-2003.
Helper(s): Otto the Siamese, Darci.
Writeup completed on the 14th of November, 2022.