Learning to Love Batwoman

I wanted to hate the new Batwoman.

She was a replacement for a character I liked very much, circus owner Kathy Kane. Kathy Kane was a silly Silver Age Batwoman who showed up in Batman comics in the 1970s as older, wiser, and tougher than in her previous stories. She was then abruptly killed off by someone brainwashed by the League of Assassins, kicking off a Batman story.

In other words, Kathy Kane was fridged and she’s never come back.

Then there was the publicity surrounding the arrival of the new Batwoman, now named Kate Kane. She was heralded in news stories as a “lipstick lesbian” in a way that seemed determined to play to the fantasies of the sometimes adolescent male readers of weekly comics. Kate Kane being a lesbian made no difference to me. What I wanted to know was who she was and what she was about.

And it turned out I couldn’t hate her. The high quality of her stories made that impossible.

The change happened when the new Batwoman finally, after a couple of fits and starts, received a starring role in 2009 in Detective Comics, DC’s flagship monthly. Written by Greg Rucka with incredible, eye-popping art often in double-page spreads by J.H. Williams III, Batwoman became a fascinating character with a unique back story. She quits the military because she cannot lie about being a lesbian in the era of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Her father helps her training and the supposed loss of her twin sister when they were children makes Kate intensely dedicated to justice. The bond between father and daughter is a terrific part of the story and unique among Batman characters, who tend to have parents that are, well, dead.

To say more would be giving out spoilers but these stories, collected in Batwoman: Elegy make Kate Kane a more than worthy addition to the Batman mythos and also a hero/role model to LGBT comic readers.

Batwoman currently has an ongoing series as well. For those not able to make it to comic shops, check out Comixology.com for digital downloads.


Corrina Lawson is a writer, mom, geek and superhero, thought not always all four on the same day. She is a senior editor of the GeekMom Blog on Wired.com (www.wired.com/geekmom) and the author of a superhero romance series and an alternate history series featuring Romans and Vikings in ancient North America. She has been a comic book geek all her life and often dreamed of growing up to be Lois Lane.

Read all posts by Corrina Lawson for Criminal Element.

Comments

  1. Jay Kay

    Yes, LOVED the Detective arc with Rucka and Williams. Sadly, I don’t think the writing holds up near as well in the current series.

    Slightly OT, but since you mentioned Kathy Kane, have you ever read any of Morrison’s Batman work? I ask because there have been moments where he’s used Kathy Kane, the biggest being the most recent, in Batman Incorporated V1 #3-5. Morrison basically takes the Silver Age Batwoman and remakes her in a way that’s modern and yet in keeping to her original stories. Plus, I think, considering how his current volume of Incorporated is going now, she might be coming back…

  2. Corrina

    I read the Batman Inc. issue with Batwoman but I found it a little over the top. It was fun but it was really the 1960s Kathy Kane, rather than the women I remember from the few stories in the 1970s. It’s like Adam West Batman vs. O’Neil/Adams Batman.

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