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National Superhero Day: 8 Facts About Batwoman, A Feminist Rant, & A Book Recommendation – Oh My!

Hi friends! Today is National Superhero Day! I shared a version of this on Facebook, but decided that since it was semi-book related, I’d rewrite it a bit for my blog as well. 🙂

I love a lot of superheroes but my most favorite is and always will be Katherine (Kate) Kane, AKA Batwoman.

Here are some cool Batwoman facts that you may not know, a lot of ranting from me on the misogyny in the comic book industry and also a book recommendation – ’cause more comics and more books is never a bad thing!
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1) Batwoman was originally created in the ’50s in response to allegations of Batman’s homosexuality and his relationship with Robin.

2) The original incarnation of Batwoman was called Kathy Kane and, because women need special “woman gear” obviously [insert eye roll], her tools included a purse, a compact mirror, lipstick and other accessories that were weapons in disguise.

3) In the 60s, Batwoman was replaced by Batgirl as Batman’s female counterpart — the creative team writing Detective Comics at the time decided they wanted Batman’s storyline to go in another direction, and since Batwoman was literally only created as a love interest for him, they chucked her out (despite objections from her reader fans). Originally, Batgirl was the superhero alter-ego of Betty Kane, but a few years after she was created, they changed her character to the Barbara Gordon that a majority of us are familiar with.

4) In the 80s, Barbara Gordon as Batgirl was paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair in a story written to further the mythos behind the Joker — so by this point, the few female Batfamily members have been basically created, removed, replaced, paralyzed, and tortured to create additional backstory and plots for male characters. Isn’t that so much fun? And I’m saying this as a fan of The Killing Joke!

5) Batgirl is another really great character, but we won’t get too far into her story here. She wasn’t put out by being paralyzed; she developed the Oracle persona and went on to help the super-community in Gotham anyway as a wheelchair user, and she became one of the too few representations of those of the readers who may be differently abled or who may live with health issues.

6) Because of Oracle’s excellent reception, when the DC team started the Infinite Crisis series (and then the original 52 relaunch), the team decided to leave Barbara Gordon as Oracle and revamp Batwoman’s character instead of bringing Batgirl back right away. Thus, Kate Kane was born — a Jewish lesbian, DC’s next attempt at widening their reader demographic and being more inclusive.

And it worked! People loved Batwoman’s new redesign, and they loved her follow up run in Detective Comics, which was turned into a standalone trade paperback called Batwoman: Elegy. They loved her so much that a few years later, she got her own self-titled series, which included the same artist from her run in Detective Comics (my favorite comic book artist ever, JH Williams III!).

7) The “New 52” relaunch in 2011 propelled Batwoman back into mainstream comic book culture, giving her a book that heavily focused on many things that a lot of other Batfamily titles didn’t – supernatural themes, myths and legends, homosexuality, lesbian lovin’. Kate continues her relationship with her girlfriend, and the amazingly talented creative team behind the beginning of the series’ run had a long plan that fans were super on board with after the way the character was created/set aside so easily in the past, in which Batwoman would finally marry her girlfriend and, you know, some other stuff with Killer Croc, but mostly MAGGIE AND KATE!!! WEDDING!!!

8) But, lol, nope, think again. As fans geared up for a traditionally mistreated character to finally have a few moments of happiness by marrying her established girlfriend, DC decided that Batwoman wasn’t “meant to be married”.

They pulled the plug on the story line that the team had been working on and toward for the last 2 full years, and they told the creative team that they wouldn’t allow them to move forward unless they changed course. The team was justifiably pissed off and opted to leave the title instead, refusing to give Batwoman anything less than they (and the fans) felt she deserved.

This last paragraph is mainly ranting, but the title went to hell. Once the new creative team took over, Batwoman’s character made several very un-characterlike choices, including breaking up with Maggie, and then was literally hypnotized to have sex with — READ: RAPED — a villain, and then manipulated even further into being in a relationship with this person.

That’s around when I stopped reading, so I honestly can only recommend the series up until the New 52 Issue #24, as that’s the last one written by W. Hayden Blackman with art by JH Williams III.

 

“Batwoman: Elegy” contains the entirety of her run from Detective Comics. The art is amazing, the page layout designs alone are worth the purchase (but the story is really great too) — read it! It’s a more supernatural side of Gotham, and it’s my favorite! If you’re a fan of Alice in Wonderland, this may also be a special treat for you – it’s got lots of little nods in the main villain!

SO, now you’re all filled in! Batwoman is a super interesting, complex, intelligent and role model-worthy character — one that has been continually mistreated by an industry that repeatedly proves it doesn’t give a crap about the women in its audience. 🤷

Happy National Superhero Day, ya’ll! 🙂


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