As I begin working on this post’s companion piece, My favorite DC heroines, I started thinking about Batwoman, a newish DC character that has gotten a lot of attention, including a bunch of articles in the mainstream press, but not a whole lot of actual comic book time. What is it that has captured the medias attention, and more curious, what is it that has captured mine? The former is pretty easy: Batwoman was announced to be a lesbian even before she ever appeared in a comic book. The mainstream press jumped all over that; after all, we are talking about the Batman franchise, possibly the most successful franchise that DC owns. But is that all it took to pique my interest?
Well, to be honest, that was certainly a start. As a gay man who has long read comics and historically mourned the lack of gay or lesbian characters found in the medium, I was thrilled that such a prominent character would also be a lesbian. But was it just a media stunt, and would she be a stock character, lacking in depth? She appeared briefly in DC’s 2007 weekly series, 52, as a dark vigilante, socialite Kate Kane by day, masked adventurer by night, ex-girlfriend of Renee Montoya, soon to be the new Question. She was intriguing, but really didn’t get a whole lot to do. Certainly not enough to make me pine for more.
The she had a couple of appearances the following year in a Final Crisis mini-series that was actually about The Question and The Spectre. It was written by Greg Rucka, whose work I really quite like, but more importantly, it was drawn by JH Williams III. The name didn’t really ring a bell, and it wasn’t until I was reminded that this was the author of Alan Moore‘s Promethea title that I realized that I new the man’s work. More importantly, his work on Final Crisis: Revelations, and particularly on the character of Batwoman, that really caught my attention. The new Batwoman was dark, sexy, and not a little scary. Again, she was a supporting character, and didn’t actually have a whole lot of panel time, but I was hooked. When it was announced that she would star in the feature story of Detective Comics, DC flagship Batman title, I was there. Now we’re two issues in and it’s one of my favorite reads each month. Rucka and Williams III have their hooks in me and I’m enjoying every minute of it.
So how did this ‘not-a-Batman’ fan get hooked on Batwoman after a handful of appearances? Visually she is stunning. First of all, when it comes to superheroines, I’ve got a weakness for redheads (Medusa? Jean Gray?) Batwoman’s fiery read hair, and dramatic black and red costume are eye-catching and appealing. Her blood-red lips and heavy, practical boots, along with the tight leather outfit are just sexy as hell. And when she turns that scary, barely restrained rage on cowering criminals, it’s even more convincing than her more masculine counterpart. In the first two issues featuring Batwoman in Detective comics, Rucka teases us with a little bit of information, but wisely keeps us in the dark about a lot of Kate’s life. And yes, she is a lesbian, and it’s a part of her that is included in the story, but is not the focus. Just like Bruce Wayne was a playboy, Kate has relationships with women.
Now Batwoman is not eh first woman in the Bat Family that I’ve fallen for. Huntress and Oracle (Barbara Gordon, the former Batgirl) are both favorites, but I’m not sure I’ve ever fallen so quickly for a new character in the way Rucka and Williams have got me hooked by Batwoman. And it appears that she has taken fandom by storm as well. Here’s hoping for a long, successful run featuring Batwoman, preferrably written by Greg Rucka and JH Williams III.