Even further from mainstream then the string of Robins, Batgirls, and other obscure Bat villains is the recherché Batwoman. When people hear Batwoman’s name, they think that maybe she’s a Batman copycat who is a possible love interest for the Dark Knight. What they don’t know is that Katherine Kane aka Batwoman might be comic books’ most popular LGBT superhero, who kicks ass and doesn’t take questions from anyone, including Batman. After hearing how awesome Batwoman is on the internets, I took it upon myself to look into Batwoman and her comic series. After reading her first New 52 volume, Hydrology, I became instantly hooked and may have a new contender for favorite superheroine, [sorry Diana]. I took time out of my not so busy day to draw a new wallpaper as tribute to one of my new favorite characters and write a small review on Batwoman New 52 Vol. 1: Hydrology. I really hoped to catch her edgy, gorgeous, but ‘don’t f*ck with me’ attitude.
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Batwoman’s Legacy So Far
I’ve only read the first volume of Batwoman of the New 52. Before the New 52, Batwoman had a very limited run in Detective Comics which soon became a very popular arc called Elegy. In Detective Comics, she was reintroduced from her original conception of a possible love interest from Batman who used a batsuit to get his attention to a strong and proud lesbian who uses the mantle to punish injustice in Gotham City. The recreation of her character cause a lot of controversy and was received both positively and negatively by audiences everywhere. Then the New 52 occurred and all DC titles were given a relaunch. I personally have not read Elegy, but apparently, unlike many DC New 52 reboots, Batwoman’s continuity is largely unaffected by the revamp. The first volume Hydrology makes several callbacks to Elegy, but nothing too out of reach for a newcomer to her character. Elegy explains how despite her independency from Batman Incorporated, why she holds the Bat mantle.
Apparently Batwoman’s writers and DC Comics had creative disputes when it came to Katherine Kane wanting to get married, but I’m not too well versed in the conflict as I’ve not read that far into her story yet.
Katherine Kane is Awesome
Katherine ‘Kate’ Kane, Batwoman’s alter ego, is a badass. Think Linda Hamilton in T2, Laura Croft in Tomb Raider, or Michonne from the Walking Dead. They’re all gorgeous and deadly women who’ve got a fun side to them. Batwoman volume 1 begins with Bruce Wayne tailing Katherine Kane, attempting to confirm that she is indeed Batwoman. it’s an incredible way for us readers to catch up with Katherine as Bruce outlines her history, past relationships, means, and overall motive. Like Bruce, Kate is a Gotham socialite, using her inherited fortune to appear to be an educated club junkie who spends most of her time at parties, with friends, or in her penthouse suite. She’s haunted by her trials in the army where she was forced out due to the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and her vigilante run in finding those responsible for gunning down her mom and sister. Like all tragic superheroes, her sister was ‘resurrected’ as a supervillain which she was forced to ‘put down’. Kate is complex, fun, and sympathetic, making her story a blast and compelling one to read.
Batwoman Is Not A Part of Batman Inc.
Despite the name, Batwoman isn’t exactly a part of Batman Inc., a network of Batman-related superheroes. This means she doesn’t normally take part in Batman related story tie ins, such as the City of Owls or Death of the Family. Batwoman Volume 1 spent a bit of time on Batwoman interacting with Batman on their strange relationship. They obviously hold immense respect for each other, but Kate doesn’t answer to Batman at all, even being as bold as being cheeky with him. The relationship is very interesting because normally interactions between Batman and his younger proteges are often one-sided and Bats is always right. Batwoman even takes paths where Batman said they might cross heads, but she tells him that she can handle herself.
The Art is Absolutely Macabre and Incredible
The art by J.H. Williams III and Amy Reeder is dark and eerie and almost always washed out. Katherine Kane’s skin is porcelain white, a concept I had to get used to as soon as I saw her without her costume. I assumed that it was make up to give her a harrowing and scary vibe to terrify villains. This helps lend to the creepy and dark theme Batwoman’s story has. There are squares within the panels that show the skeletons of characters, there’s a fair amount of gore, and a very intimate romantic scene laced within the same pages of a very violent beat down. The tone of Batwoman is incredibly gripping in thanks to the combined efforts of J.H. Williams III as a principle writer and artist.
In Hydrology, Superstition and Mysticism are a Nice Change Up from the Batman Rogues
Like other Bat-family stories, Batwoman’s enemies try to shy away from Batman’s lineup of Rogues. Stories like Nightwing’s and Batgirls are often newly developed villains, that while human, that are powerful and have personal meaning to the title character. Batwoman’s story takes a step away from crazed humans and dives into ghost and metahuman territory, even featuring a gang war between a human cult and a mythical creature clan featuring chimeras, goatmen, etc. It’s a nice change up, reminding us that Gotham City isn’t just a hyper embellished real world city and that no city is safe from the DC universe’s extended universes that include supernatural elements.
So after reading Batwoman volume 1, I can’t wait to get my hands on the next four volumes to see what is in store for Katherine Kane. I can’t wait to get to the controversial issue that made the principal writers and artists leave and I hope to see if that the story has changed often since them leaving.