Not to be confused with Kathy Kane, the original Batwoman (who first appeared in Detective Comics #233 in 1956), in this entry I’m looking at the modern Batwoman. The appeal of this character is fairly easy to understand.
Batwoman is an extension of the idea that heroism does not require super-powers. This idea, popularized by the original Batman (and found in early pulp fiction heroes like the Shadow and Doc Savage) is that heroism is a state of mind. Take Batman. While he is definitely one of the most popular heroes ever created, and while he fights crime and is certainly noble and heroic- he doesn’t have super-powers. No radio-active blood or even an alien origin. His ‘super-power’, in other words (and as the Justice League movie taught us), is that he’s rich. No, I’m just kidding…his superpower is his thirst for punishing wrongdoers. In the strictest terms, Batman is a vigilante. Yet, because he is a self-made hero, fighting for what is right, he has claims to being noble. It is his nobility that has earned him his many devoted readers.
The original ‘Batwoman’ concept, created by Bob Kane, Edmond Hamilton and Sheldon Moldoff, tried to capitalize on the above ideal but package it to a female as well as male audience. Truth be told, the Golden Age original Batwoman was quite campy. Created as an exact female counterpart to Batman, the writers at the time nonetheless stressed her femininity by endowing her with a perpetual crush on Batman whom she longed to marry (Superman, luckily never had that problem since his female counter-part- Supergirl – was his first cousin).
Originally Batwoman (or Batwoman #1 aka Kathy Kane) also had a female version of ‘Robin’, as her sidekick, i.e. Batgirl (aka Bette Kane, who -to preserve symmetry- was written as having strong romantic interest in Robin the boy wonder). The early Batwoman was also unrelated to Bruce Wayne, in fact she didn’t even know his secret identity.
Kate Kane, by contrast, (Batwoman #2) is written as an ex-army brat who was expelled from the service for lesbianism. This retconned version of the character, first appearing in 2006, is also Bruce Wayne’s cousin and is really a more serious attempt to present a female masked vigilante. That’s probably the reason why she is making waves with a CW show planned (to be produced by Caroline Dries and Greg Berlanti). With a show on the way, her key appearances may also begin heating up.
So, let’s take a look at the comics worth seeking out in connection to this character:
The year-long event known as ‘52’ was yet another chapter in the post-Crisis DC Universe. Once upon a time, there were different generations of DC heroes. In order to preserve continuity, and link the different heroes with their counterparts, the writers decided that the adventures of the Golden Age heroes had taken place in a parallel universe (Earth One), while the Silver Age and later, was unfolding in a universe known as Earth Two. The Crisis maxi-series of the 1980s destroyed the multi-verse and united the history of all the DC heroes in a single timeline, but it wasn’t enough. After another Crisis (the ‘Infinite’ Crisis) and a series of universe changing events, (described in the ‘One Year Later’ crossover event) DC re-initiated the mutliverse concept (this time limiting the number of parallel universes to 52).
It is within the story arc of this world-building series that we are introduced to the new Batwoman. This comic is currently very affordable, with the only difficulty finding it being that most sellers want you to pick up the entire 52 issue run of series to get it. Careful searching will allow you to find the first appearance of Kate Kane on its own. Her first appearance as Batwoman happens later in this series with issue #11 (cover date: September 2006) also worth seeking out.
“Elegy Part One: Agitato,” was written by Greg Rucka with art by J.H. Williams III. It is the first appearance of Elizabeth Kane who is the demented sister of Kate. In this issue of Detective Comics, Kate is on a mission to destroy a quasi-religious cult that had almost killed her. Having survived the cult’s attempt to cut out her heart, she began keeping tabs on its activity. She learned that it has recently found a new leader: a woman with powder-white skin and a colorful Alice in Wonderland getup. Kate swoops in to kill this new head of the cult, all the while unaware that ‘Alice’ is actually her sister. This comic is again an undervalued key with CGC 9.8’s available for around $30.00. If Alice makes a live action appearance that may change.
With a story by Gail Simone hearkening back to the old days of the Batman family team ups, this issue of Batgirl sees the protagonist (aka Barbara Gordon) upset the old order by having the two fight Bat-ladies fight each other rather than team up. At least originally. And the fight itself is no contest. With her military training, Batwoman mops the floor with Batgirl. A 9.8 CGC copy of this, sold for $61.00 in September of 2017. Otherwise, data is too limited to gauge the status of this issue. Will Batgirl also appear if the Batwoman CW series gets a go ahead? Time will tell.