Published on November 16th, 2010 | by Michael Harris0
A Week Late #5: Batwoman
The character of Batwoman was originally conceived by Bob Kane in the 50’s as Katherine Kane, heiress to the second largest fortune in Gotham and nighttime vigilante Batwoman in response to a growing public belief that Bruce Wayne and Batman was homosexual. She was intended to be his female counterpart, his romantic interest and his guarantee to the less tolerant populous that Batman was interested in the opposite sex. After some time, due to declining sales, her character was phased out of continuing Batman comics and became a vault property for DC comics.
The modern incarnation of Batwoman was re-introduced during the series “52” as a former romantic interest for Renee Montoya, Gotham City detective. In the series, she worked with Montoya and The Question to help fight Intergang. She later was kidnapped and summarily rescued by Montoya who had now taken up the mantle of The Question. During the conflict with Intergang, Kane was critically injured and was very nearly used in a sacrificial ritual to complete a prophecy from the “Crime Bible”, a plot point that followed her through Elegy.
Despite her appearances in both 52 and Final Crisis, the comic that got me and I assume most readers interested in her character again was Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams’ III run on Detective Comics (issue 854 to 861) which is my main focus here. In it, Katherine Kane once again faces off against the 13 covens of the Crime Syndicate, The Religion of Crime, and transforming monsters that are the True Believers. The book jumps back and forth between time periods, from the current where Batwoman is fighting Alice and the True Believers to her distant past and being raised by her father up through her time at the United States Military Academy, her rebellious years following her separation from the academy, and ultimately her decision to become Batwoman. As Batwoman, Kane uses her family’s excessive wealth (a character point unchanged from the original incarnation) to create her own bat lair and her father, an Army Lieutenant Colonel, becomes her version of Alfred, operating her command center, acquiring her equipment from his military connections and helping Katherine to train under his various special ops connections.
As far as comics go, this is one of the most beautiful comics I’ve ever seen. J.H. Williams is at the top of his game and is putting out some inspired work here. Page construction is beautiful, the changing art styles to fit the setting of the story are clear and distinct, and the action sequences are dynamic and powerful. Williams also draws some extremely emotional and visceral sequences such as the reveal of Kathy Kane’s tragic past in issue 858.
A big part of the interest in Batwoman has been due to her sexual orientation. Back in 2006 when it was announced that they were reviving the character, DC announced that she was going to be lesbian and a romantic interest for another DC hero and she became the highest profile homosexual character in DC comics at the time. Kane is portrayed in the comic as a openly rebellious woman who is as secretive about her personal life as she is about her Batwoman identity. She is challenged many times for her beliefs and belittled as they are called a spectacle and her acting out as a reaction to the tragedy in her past but she holds to her convictions in a strong representation of inequality and homosexual pride. As Batwoman, her costume is very sexualized (modest in comparison to someone like Power Girl, though) which has led to a bit of criticism from LGBT groups who complain that lesbianism is always portreyed with a straight-male interest in mind, however, Rucka and Williams focus the story in such a way that her sexuality becomes a non-issue when she is in costume.
Since Rucka’s run, and possibly due to the declining sales of Detective Comics following Grant Morrison’s run, Batwoman has been given a much lower profile, playing sidekick to Dick and Damian in Batman & Robin and being not much more than a plot device otherwise. However, with the onset of Batman Incorporated this week, it is very likely that she will be given a higher profile as the Batman organization expands to cover more area. I would like to see her character to be given an ongoing because she is strong enough to carry it, but opposition and lack of interest may be too much for her own ongoing to survive.
NEWS IN COMICS:
» Hawkeye has been given another series for Marvel execs to cancel.
» “The Wolverine” is the title for the next Wolverine movie. Hugh Jackman will return and it will be directed by Darren Aronofsky.
» Batman is getting a love interest and a villain. It could be two of these six ladies: Anne Hathaway, Keira Knightley, Blake Lively, Natalie Portman, Naomi Watts and Rachel Weisz.
» Superheroes are coming the the world of Fables.
» So…Carnage looks awful in the Spider-Man musical. Did anybody not see this coming?
» Somebody, somewhere, is making an Incredible Hulk porn. Let that thought sink in for a second.
» The Age of X has a lot of new-ish mutants. Where do they keep coming from?
» War of the Green Lanterns is coming next year. I’m just getting a little bored of it all.
» Cowboy Ninja Viking is going on a hiatus for the creators to work on other projects. I hope it comes back.
» The much-hyped “Death of Spider-Man” is actually the Ultimates incarnation of him.
» If you didn’t know. Top Cow’s Pilot Season comics are free online at http://graphic.ly/.
WHAT I’M READING THIS WEEK:
Batman Incorporated #1
Batman: The Return #1
Brightest Day #14
Green Lantern #59
Green Lantern Corphs #54
Daken: Dark Wolverine #2
Superior #2 (of 6)
Astounding Wolf-Man #25
R.P.M. #1 (of 4)
Stan Lee’s Soldier Zero #2