Batwoman is a name few casual comic book fans would recognize. In fact, I would wager most people have no idea who she is and, if they do, they don’t really know much about her other than her association with the Bat Family. That was certainly the case with my wife. She first heard about Batwoman because it was announced recently that Ruby Rose would be playing the caped heroine in an upcoming episode of Arrow. So she asked me about her, and I did what I normally do in these situations — a Wikipedia deep dive.
There are basically two version of Batwoman as a character. Initially, she was created to help combat the commonly held belief, at least at the time, that Batman was gay and in a relationship with Robin. This arose because of a book published in 1954 called Seduction of the Innocent. The solution was to create a character that could act as a romantic interest for the Caped Crusader. And it worked, at least for a little while. This version of Batwoman, whose secret identity was Kathy Kane, lasted about 10 years before she was cut, along with several other incidental Bat characters, when a new editor took control of the Batman comics.
She was, in fact, canonically erased because of the events of the Crisis on Infinite Earth, which is a topic for another day.
She made a few cameo appearances through the years, but never really regained her star status. That is, until 2006, when the character was revived after the crossover event Infinite Crisis. The new Batwoman’s name was Kate Kane and was pretty different from the original. Firstly, Kate Kane’s Batwoman doesn’t exist simply to help quash rumors of Batman’s latent or explicit homosexuality, mostly because that’s not an issue for comic book characters and readers anymore. Point of fact, Kate Kane is depicted as a lesbian herself. This was a bit controversial when it was first revealed, but readers soon came to embrace this new character.
In an interview with Wizard Entertainment, DC Comics Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Dan DiDio stated “It was from conversations we’ve had for expanding the DC Universe, for looking at levels of diversity. We wanted to have a cast that is much more reflective of today’s society and even today’s fanbase. One of the reasons we made her gay is that, again when you have the Batman Family—a series of characters that aren’t super-powered and inhabit the same circle and the same city—you really want to have a point of difference. It was really important to me to make sure every character felt unique.”
Kate Kane has a military background. She actually attended West Point and is a highly trained soldier who uses military hardware in both her bat suit and her weapons. She’s a wealthy heiress who uses her vast resources to fight crime in Gotham City. Sound familiar? She has a relationship with Renee Montoya, who fights crime as The Question. She regularly interacts with the members of the Bat Family, and in her most recent titles she actually runs a boot camp for young heroes that Batman organized.
If you want to check out some essential Batwoman comics, you can grab issues 7 and 11 of DC’s 52 from 2006, Batwoman: Elegy from 2009, Batwoman: New 52 from 2011-2015, and Batwoman: Rebirth from 2017 until now.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this deep dive. I’ll try to bring you interesting topics and compelling characters as they arise. If you have suggestions on topics or characters, feel free to contact me on twitter. You can find me at eyeheartcomics. Until next time, this has been Comic Books Remastered.