Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Brief History of Batwoman

A New BATWOMAN monthly comic book will debut in a few weeks as part of the DC Comics "New 52" reboot/relaunch. Let's take a quick look back at the history of this semi-obscure character.The DC Comics character Batwoman has always been one of my favorites, mostly because she was basically a D-List superheroine.
Kathy Kane was introduced in Detective Comics #233 (July 1956) and spent most of her short-lived crimefighting career trying to romantically woo the Dark Knight Detective.She was often doomed.
Paired with Bat-Mite.
Forced into being a surrogate mother to Robin.
Batman also saw her as the competition.
Kathy was later joined by her niece Betty in 1961 as the first Bat-Girl. Kathy and Betty were intended to be romantic interests of Batman and Robin, respectively - to fend off rumors that the caped crusaders were gay lovers.Like Lois Lane, she sometimes developed super-powers when the story called for it.And took part in some of the more bizarre Batman adventures.
She faced many unusual challenges.

Batwoman, as well as Bat-Girl, and other silly characters like Ace the Bat-Hound, and the fore-mentioned Bat-Mite pretty much disappeared from comics by the early 1960s.
Kathy was more or less replaced by Barbara Gordon's much more popular Batgirl during the height of the ABC TV series in last third of that decade.
Kathy resurfaced briefly in the late 1970s as a member of The Batman Family.
Ms. Kane became the owner of a circus after retiring from crimefighting.
Batwoman donned her costume for a few new adventures in the DC Universe–

including a team-up with Batgirl and The Freedom Fighters!

But Kathy's comeback was destined to be short-lived, and she was brutally killed by The Ras Al Ghul's League of Assassins in Detective Comics #485 (September 1979).

Her neice, Betty was renamed Bette after Crisis on Infinite Earths and later joined the Titans as Flamebird.
Years later, Batwoman made a ghostly cameo appearance in The Kingdom: Planet Krypton, in which she is one of many "lost" DC characters that haunt a superhero-themed restaurant.

Other Elseworlds and alternative versions of Batwoman have appeared in recent years, only appearing once or twice. Another Batwoman appeared in the animated film BATMAN: MYSTERY OF THE BATWOMAN. Here Batwoman is actually three different women, one of them is named Cathy Duquesne (pronounced "du-kane").
Batman writer/editor Denny O'Neil hinted for years that a new Batwoman was on her way in the late 1980s/early 90s - but that never happened. Most likely the character evolved into the third Batgirl (Cassandra Cain, no relation) who was introduced after Gordon became paralysed in The Killing Joke and transformed herself into Oracle in the pages of Suicide Squad, and later Birds of Prey. Now, many years later, Barbara Gordon will be returning to the role of Batgirl as part of the DC reboot/relaunch.
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A brand new Kate Kane was finally introduced to the DCU in the 7th issue of a wonderful weekly maxi-series called 52 (July 2006), becoming the new Batwoman in issue #11 (also July 2006). Kate was now cast as former Gotham police officer Renee Montoya's ex-lover and heiress to one of the wealthiest families in Gotham City.Batwoman and Renee (now the new Question) subsequently got involved with Intergang, the Crime Bible and all sorts of danger during 52, and two follow-up miniseries. This new, improved version of Batwoman debuted as the lead character in Detective Comics (with Renee's Question providing back-up support), coming full circle and bumping her up to the A-List at last. She also briefly joined a new version of the Justice League! It's a interesting footnote that Detective Comics, the title which DC Comics gets its name from costarred TWO lesbian superheroes. In a recent issue of BATMAN INC., Batwoman has an interesting encounter with the "ghost" of the first Batwoman.
A new BATWOMAN #0 appeared a few months back, with the monthly solo series delayed until the big September reboot/relaunch. With stunning art by J.H. Williams III, this is on my shortlist of the new titles I will be buying. You've come a long way, Batwoman.


TimmyB said...

Awesome. Thanks for the comics history lesson. I'm glad they haven't killed off the new Batwoman yet. I will buy a Detective Comic just to add my ten cents of support. They are still ten cents, right?

Ookie said...

I read the "Elegy" trade collection of Batwoman (w/ intro by Rachel Maddow). The characters are intriguing & three-dimensional, and it really captures the culture of military families - something I've never seen in a comic book. And the art is amazing.