Publisher: DC Comics
First Appearance: Adventures of Superman #424 (January 1987)
Created By: Marv Wolfman and Jerry Ordway
Cat Grant knows sordid secrets. Not only was she a successful gossip columnist in LA, she was living with an abusive, alcoholic husband and battling alcoholism herself. When she left him, he managed to get full custody of their son, Adam. Heartbroken and forbidden to see her child, Cat moved to Metropolis.
As the new gossip columnist for the Daily Planet, Cat briefly dated Clark Kent, but their romance ended when she went back to California to fight (and eventually win) custody of Adam. By the time she returned, Clark and Lois had gotten serious, but Clark and Cat remained friends, despite occasional hostility towards Cat from both Perry and Lois for her too-sexy ways. Determined to prove her journalistic chops to her Planet colleagues, she quit the paper and went undercover at Galaxy Broadcasting to expose owner Morgan Edge’s connection to Intergang. There she faced relentless sexual harassment from Edge’s father Vinnie.
Tragedy struck when the Toyman kidnapped several Metropolis kids, including Adam. While attempting to lead the kids to freedom, Adam was killed. After Vinnie hit on Cat at her son’s funeral, she decided enough was enough and got him fired for harassment, replacing him as the CEO of WGBS. She then did some time as Lex Luthor’s press secretary, because apparently Lex felt the need to staff his administration with all of Clark’s besties. That’s weird, Lex.
Shortly before the reboot, a now extra-sexy Cat returned to the Planet as editor of the arts and entertainment section, because Perry White’s staffing decisions are nothing if not charmingly random. For some reason Cat took that as a chance to write scathing front-page editorials about how reckless and immature Supergirl was, but they buried the hatchet after Supergirl saved Cat from Toyman’s son, who was stalking her.
Post-reboot, Cat is still at the Planet.
So What’s So Great About Her?
So recently Cat has tended to come off as some kind of weird narrative exercise in slut-shaming. She existed initially to be a sexier, less ball-busting rival for Lois, but she was still a nice person with a genuine thing for Clark, and hell, who could blame her?
But then she returned to the Planet, all sexed-up – with breast implants, no less – and nasty, stuck in this weird comic relief/minor antagonist role. The part that leaves the grossest taste in my mouth is Clark’s mournful explanation that this is how she’s processing the loss of her son. (You know, the one that happened years earlier, with a stint as a network CEO and as White House press secretary in between? Which is not to say that anyone ever gets over the loss of a child, but acting like it’s a reaction borne out of immediate grief is, excuse the pun, super-patronizing.) It’s like “Oh, well, she was a mother so she was behaving okay for a woman, but after she lost him there was nothing to stop her from waving her boobs around again. So sad/threatening, tsk tsk.” Plus there’s the whole “Let me script multiple panels that are closeups of her breasts while judging her for them” aspect. Ugh. Work your issues out elsewhere, writers.
It doesn’t help that her relationships with other women are invariably contentious: there’s Lois, of course, but more notable is her smear campaign against Supergirl, which it’s heavily implied is motivated more by jealousy over Kara’s taut young beauty than anything else. (Though she did eventually make peace with both of them, which I like.) Women are always in competition and hate anyone younger/prettier than them, duh!
And yet. Despite all of that, I like Cat.
Much of that is out of sheer spite/sympathy (“Don’t you tell me not to like this woman, DC, SHE IS NOW MY FAVORITE”), and it also owes something to Tracy Scoggins’ cheesy-but-lovable portrayal on the cheesy-but-lovable show of my heart, Lois and Clark. But Cat is also, when you get right down to it, a smart, tough lady, and I wouldn’t be a Superman fan if I didn’t like smart, tough ladies. I mean, lady was Press Secretary of the United States of America. (Under a lunatic who got impeached after attacking Superman in a robosuit, yeah, but that part wasn’t her fault.) And Allison Janney taught me that being Press Secretary is basically being the coolest.
She’s also a fundamentally good person, a talented reporter, and a devoted mother. It takes a lot of strength to leave an abuser, and it takes a lot of chutzpah to make a name for yourself in one of the biggest cities in the world. And she’s fun. There’s not actually anything wrong with going to parties, dressing in a way that expresses your sexuality, or getting plastic surgery if you want it (though the clumsiness of that writing makes me roll my eyes). Cat may not be perfect, but she knows all the cool people and isn’t afraid to let her hair down. On the list of DC Folks I Want to Party With, Cat is at the very top.
Adventures of Superman #424, 428-431, 434, 435, 438, 439, 441, 445-448, 450, 452, 454-458, 462, 463, 465-467, 473, 480, 482, 483, 487, 491, 497-501, 503, 505, 507, 508, 510, 524, 526, 527, 529, 532, 535, 538, 543, 549, 550, 555, 597, 610
Superman v2 #0, 5, 10, 11, 13, 19, 20, 24, 25, 28, 33, 36, 40, 42-44, 50, 51, 53, 60, 63, 75, 83-85, 87, 98, 104, 105, 11, 120, 130, 142, 162, 166, 681, 682, 706
Action Comics v1 #598, 599, 643, 653, 654, 658, 667, 668, 676, 677, 688, 692-695, 700, 713, 714, 723, 726, 737, 865, 866, 868-870, 881
Superman: The Man of Steel #28, 49, 54, 61, 67, 70, 71, 108
Supergirl v5 #34-36, 38, 40, 41, 44, 45, 50, 54, 55, 57-59
Superman v3 #2, 6, 13, 18