Catman and Secret Six.
I think it hard to talk about one without mentioning the other. I have grown to really like Catman. He was a chump, that rebuilt his body and attitude.
Catman was originally Tom Blake, a world-famous trapper of jungle cats who turned to crime because he had grown bored with hunting and had squandered most of his fortune. He became a burglar who committed his crimes in a catsuit made out of an ancient African cloth he believed gave him a cat's nine lives. His costume was modeled after Catwoman's disguise. Catwoman was none too pleased to have her modus operandi copied, and initially helped Batman apprehend him. The two costumed criminals would have a competitive, love/hate relationship for many years afterward which included Selina Kyle (Catwoman) being wrongly implicated for Catman's crimes at least once. As with many Batman villains in their first appearances, Catman was originally a gimmicked villain who stole items along a "cat" theme, such as cat statues, "cat's eyes" emeralds, etc. His weapon of choice was (of course) a cat-o-nine-tails.
Cover to Detective Comics #311. Art by Dick Dillin.
During one story, Catman saves the life of Batwoman, licks her ear, and convinces her to become his partner, the new Catwoman. By the end of the story, she gives up the Catwoman role and returns to her Batwoman identity.
In the late 1980s, Catman was revived in the pages of Detective Comics, this time working alongside Catwoman in battle against Batman. This alliance wouldn't last, however, as Catwoman became tired of Catman's abusive attitude towards women, and turned against her former partner.
In 1993, Catman appeared in Batman: Shadow of the Bat as a member of a team called "the Misfits", led by Killer Moth. The Misfits were portrayed as third-rate villains trying to prove themselves, anticipating Brad Meltzer's treatment of the character in Green Arrow. Catman reappeared in a 1995 crossover between Shadow of the Bat and Catwoman. In this story the cloth Catman's costume was made from was retconned as belonging to a South Sea cat cult. Catwoman was hired by the cult to return the cloth, but gave them a fake.
Catman remained in limbo until 2003, when he resurfaced as a foe of Green Arrow. Written by Brad Meltzer, Catman was portrayed as a pathetic, overweight loser who was looked down upon by other villains and who is easily defeated by Green Arrow. In fact, in issue 20 vol 3, one of Monsieur Mallah's servants appears through a boom tube and abducts Blake, the implication being that Catman had met a rather grisly end as Mallah's dinner. This inconsistency was never clarified between his Green Arrow appearances and his later revival in Villains United.
In the 2005 mini-series Villains United, Catman resurfaced in Africa, where, after a failed attempt at suicide, he attempted to resalvage his life and began living with a pride of lions. He used this time to lose weight and regain his sense of self-worth and fighting skills. This 'perfect existence' would be shattered by the arrival of the Secret Society of Super-Villains, however. Seeking to unite all of Earth's super-villains under his control, Lex Luthor (secretly Alexander Luthor, Jr. in disguise) sought to recruit Catman into the fold as a minion, only to be rejected. It was initially believed that an angry Lex Luthor had Deathstroke the Terminator kill the lions Catman was living with in retaliation for being rejected by a "nobody" but this was later revealed to have been misdirection.
Catman vowed revenge against Luthor, and was subsequently recruited into a criminal syndicate known as the Secret Six. Together, the Secret Six waged war against the Secret Society of Super-Villains under the direction of an individual known only as Mockingbird. During that time he found out that it was in fact fellow Secret Six member Deadshot who had killed his lions, so that he would join the organization. Deadshot would later apologise, and Catman forgave him. Although the two were reluctant allies at first, the two soon bonded and became what one could loosely call friends.
Under Villains United writer Gail Simone, Catman has achieved a new level of fame. Portrayed as a cunning warrior with a sense of honor and a habit of walking around bare-chested, the character is now a potent anti-heroic character (though far from unflappable). His time in Africa seems to have helped him regain his physical abilities allowing him to fight the formidable super-ape Mallah to a standstill and blind Captain Nazi. He is different from most other villains in the sense that he has noble and heroic qualities (Cheshire notes that Blake behaves more like a hero than a villain), yet he sees heroes such as the Justice League as being arrogant and abusive of their power, as seen when he confronts Green Arrow about the Doctor Light incident. It seems he would rather be associated with people such as Deadshot who at least recognize their moral failings than a group of 'holier-than-thou' heroes. It has been revealed that during his time with the society he impregnated Cheshire and that the two now have a son, Thomas jr.
In Birds of Prey #104, the Secret Six run into Barbara Gordon's team. Huntress and Catman - out of disguise, dance together, with hints of an attraction. The two teams battle, six members for six, Catman paired against Huntress, but the fray ends with the resurrection of Ice.
Humble beginnings for our "villian"?
Catman getting screwed over by a woman. Which seems to be a reoccurring theme for him.
In the 2006 Secret Six miniseries, (written by Gail Simone with art by Brad Walker and Jimmy Palmiotti), Knockout, who was revealed as a mole infiltrating the Secret Society of Villains in Villains United, has officially joined the group to be with her lover, Scandal. At the end of issue #1, Catman asks the Mad Hatter be the sixth member of the group. While Catman meets with the Mad Hatter, (This is the first time I ever gave a damn about the Mad Hatter. Hes all demented, crazy, and evil. Its great.) Doctor Psycho orchestrates a series of attacks designed to wipe out the Six. Hatter is removed, and his replacement is revealed to be Harley Quinn who later quits.
In Birds of Prey issues #104-106, the Secret Six face off against Spy Smasher's Birds of Prey in Russia for the soul of Tora (Ice).