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Kate Kane as Batwoman on the variant cover of Detective Comics #860 (Dec. 2009). Art by Alex Ross.
|First appearance||(Kathy Kane):
Detective Comics #233 (July 1956)
52 #7 (June 2006)
|Created by||(Kathy Kane):
|Alter ego||Katherine "Kathy" Webb-Kane
Katherine Rebecca "Kate" Kane
|Team affiliations||Batman Family
|Notable aliases||(Kathy Kane):
Katrina "Luka" Netz
Batwoman is a superheroine appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. In all incarnations, the character is a wealthy heiress who becomes inspired by the superhero Batman and chooses, like him, to put her wealth and resources towards a war on crime as a masked vigilante in her home of Gotham City. The identity of Batwoman is shared by two heroines in mainstream DC publications; both women are named Katherine Kane, with the original Batwoman commonly referred to by her nickname Kathy and the modern incarnation going by the name Kate.
Batwoman was created by writer Edmond Hamilton and artist Sheldon Moldoff under the direction of editor Jack Schiff, as part of an ongoing effort to expand Batman's cast of supporting characters. Batwoman began appearing in DC Comics stories beginning with Detective Comics #233 (1956), in which she was introduced as a love interest for Batman in order to combat the allegations of Batman's homosexuality arising from the controversial book Seduction of the Innocent (1954). When Julius Schwartz became editor of the Batman-related comic books in 1964, he removed non-essential characters including Batwoman, Bat-Girl, Bat-Mite, and Bat-Hound. Later, the 1985 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths retroactively established that Batwoman had never existed, though her alter ego Kathy Kane continued to be referred to occasionally.
After a long hiatus, Batwoman was reintroduced to DC continuity in 2006 in the seventh week of the publisher's year-long 52 weekly comic book. Reintroduced as Kate Kane, the modern Batwoman began operating in Gotham City in Batman's absence following the events of the company-wide crossover Infinite Crisis (2005). The modern Batwoman is written as being of Jewish descent and as a lesbian in an effort by DC editorial staff to diversify its publications and better connect to modern-day readership. Described as the highest-profile gay superhero to appear in stories published by DC, Batwoman's sexual orientation drew wide media attention following her reintroduction, as well as both praise and criticism from the general public.
From 2009-2010, the character replaced Batman as the lead in Detective Comics. She subsequently starred in the eponymous Batwoman monthly comic book as part of The New 52 relaunch. Following the cancellation of Batwoman, the character has been returned to Detective Comics in a leading role for the DC Rebirth event and will be getting another solo series in 2017.
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Fictional character biography
- 3 Other versions
- 4 In other media
- 5 References
Kathy Kane (1956–1979, 2013–present)
Kathy Kane is primarily associated with the Silver Age of Comic Books. In the aftermath of the attacks on comics in the early 1950s, the Batwoman was the first of several characters that would make up the 'Batman Family'. Since the family formula had proven very successful for the Superman franchise, editor Jack Schiff suggested to Batman creator, Bob Kane, that he create one for the Batman. A female was chosen first, to offset the charges made by Fredric Wertham that Batman and the original Robin, Dick Grayson, were homosexual. Kathy Kane and alter ego Batwoman first appeared in Detective Comics #233 (July 1956). In the character's debut issue, Batwoman is introduced as a female rival to the crime-fighting prowess of Batman:
"There's only one Batman! That's been said many times and has always been true, for no other man has ever rivaled Batman as a champion of the law, nor matched his superb acrobatic skill, his scientific keenness, his mastery of disguise and detective skill! But now, in one suspenseful surprise after another, Batman finds he has a great rival in the mysterious and glamorous girl... The Batwoman!"
She was a costumed crime-fighter like Batman, yet in many ways not an exact counterpart. For example, the contents of her utility purse were actually weapons disguised as stereotypical feminine products such as lipstick, cosmetic compacts, charm bracelets, and hair nets. Batwoman appeared regularly in the pages of Batman and Detective Comics through the early 1960s. Although letters from fans indicated Batwoman had become popular with readers, editor Julius Schwartz considered the heroine, as well as other Batman-related characters, to be inappropriate for the new direction he planned to take the Batman universe. Following the revamp to Detective Comics in 1964, Batwoman was removed from the series. The 'new' Batgirl, Barbara Gordon, not only replaced Batwoman as Batman's female counterpart, she surpassed the original heroine in popularity. Batgirl also proved to be more appropriate for her time period and the realistic approach DC Comics began taking with its characters. Unlike Batwoman, Gordon's Batgirl used a utility belt and various gadgets similar to Batman's, in addition to being a skilled martial artist and possessing a doctorate in her civilian identity. Despite requests from readers to revive Batwoman, DC's editorial staff initially declined to bring the character out of retirement, considering the fact that she was specifically created to be a love interest for Batman.
...Batwoman and Bat-Girl were there because romance seemed to be needed in Batman [and Robin]'s life. But thanks to the big change and a foresighted editor, these hapless females are gone for good. In their place stands a girl who is a capable crime-fighter, a far cry from Batwoman who constantly had to be rescued by[sic] Batman.
However, with the launch of the Batman Family comic book series in 1975, readers continued to request for Batwoman to appear in new stories. One reader states:
it is totally beyond me why you ignored Batwoman in your first two issues... I can understand your reluctance to go back to the days where everybody in Gotham had a Bat-identity, but you can't wipe out Batwoman that easily... I was counting on her making the scene in a new story, perhaps coming out of retirement to offer assistance to your Dynamite Duo [Batgirl and Robin].
Batwoman was brought back in Batman Family #10 (1979) as "Batgirl's guest heroine" when she comes out of retirement to assist Batgirl in defeating Killer Moth and Cavalier. However, in Detective Comics #485 (August–September 1979), Batwoman is killed by the League of Assassins (assisted by the Bronze Tiger). Editor Dennis O'Neil later stated in an interview, "we already had Batgirl, we didn't need Batwoman." The issue marked the final appearance of the Earth-1 Kathy Kane. An Earth-2 version appeared in Brave and The Bold #182 (January 1982). This Kathy Kane retired from crime-fighting when that world's Batman married Catwoman. She comes out of retirement to help a grown-up Robin and Earth-1 Batman battle Hugo Strange.
The Kathy Kane version of Batwoman was restored to modern continuity by writer Grant Morrison in flashback sequences in various issues of his run on the Batman-related titles, most explicitly in Batman Incorporated #4 (2011). This issue reveals the origin of the original Batwoman in current DC Universe continuity; she is Bruce's aunt by marriage. After she was widowed, she and Bruce fought side by side and were lovers for a time until it appeared she was killed. In that time, she worked reluctantly as a member of the spy organisation Spyral, which had employed her to uncover Batman's identity. Her biological father was also revealed to be the Nazi scientist Otto Netz (Doctor Dedalus). In 2013, in Morrison's final Batman Incorporated issue, Morrison then reveals that Kathy is alive working as an assassin for Spyral. Kathy then makes a few fleeting appearances in Grayson (2014–2016), referred to primarily as Agent Zero. In Grayson #8, during a fraught encounter between Dick Grayson and acting Spyral head Mr Minos, Kathy shows up to assassinate him.
Kate Kane (2006–present)
The limited series Infinite Crisis (2005), written as a sequel to the 1985 maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths, altered DC Comics continuity. Subsequently, all comic book titles published by DC Comics skip forward one year and a new maxi-series entitled 52 retroactively chronicles the 52 weeks which directly followed Infinite Crisis. When DC editors called for a redesign of Batwoman, comic book artist Alex Ross drew inspiration from the modified Batgirl costume he designed for Barbara Gordon, seven years prior to Kate Kane's debut in the limited comic book series 52. Ross and comic book author Paul Dini initially planned to revive the former Batgirl Barbara Gordon using an updated version of the character's original costume, with red accents in place of the traditional yellow. However, since Gordon served as one of a very small number of disabled superheroes of DC Comics as Oracle, DC's editorial staff decided to revitalize the original Batwoman instead. In an interview with Newsarama, Ross states "They had me change the mask and hair to make it a bit more Batwoman, rather than Batgirl...I pointed out to them that the mask makes her look like the Huntress a little overall—but there weren't many options. The original mask that I had in there when it was to be a Batgirl design was the complete head cover that we've seen, so they did need something different from that."
Unlike the Silver Age Kathy Kane, who was romantically attracted to Batman, the new version of Kane is a lesbian. Her sexual orientation was announced at the same time the character was revealed in the spring of 2006. Stories appeared on television news outlets such as CNN, general news magazines such as USA Today, and gay culture magazines such as Out. The modern Katherine "Kate" Kane made her first comic book appearance in issue #7 of the maxi-series 52 (2006), where Kane is revealed to have been romantically involved with Renee Montoya, a former Gotham City Police detective (who later takes up the mantle of the Question after the original hero dies). When questioned about the editorial decision to make Batwoman a gay 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."
Batwoman's sexual orientation initially gathered mixed reviews, ranging from praise to outrage. A reviewer at Out asserts "Batwoman will be the highest profile gay superhero to ever grace the pages of DC Comics." Although several LGBT organizations such as GLAAD have praised DC Comics for attempting to diversify their characters, some have observed that Batwoman is not the first gay or lesbian character to appear in comic books, nor is she the only lesbian to be associated with the Batman series.
In the character's civilian identity as a socialite, Katherine Kane is acquainted with Bruce Wayne and is friends with a doctor named Mallory. She is presented as having porcelain white skin, several tattoos, and a clothing style defined as punk-psychobilly-goth in her civilian persona. The character is also Jewish, and celebrates Hanukkah with Renee Montoya during the events of 52. Her father is an ex-colonel and in Detective Comics #854, it is stated she is the cousin of Bette "Flamebird" Kane. The younger Kate also has a stepmother named Catherine Kane, making Catherine the aunt of Bette. At the 2008 New York Comic Con, it was announced that Batwoman would be among the characters appearing in a new Justice League comic book written by James Robinson. That year, Batwoman briefly took over as the lead character in Detective Comics, starting with #854. with DC saying at the 2009 New York Comic Con that she would be DC Comics' highest profile gay superhero. Detective Comics #854 would introduce Alice, a new villain for Kate who is also revealed to be her twin sister, Elizabeth Kane.
From 2010, the character began appearing in the self-titled series Batwoman. After an introductory "zero" issue in 2010, the series launched fully in 2011 with Batwoman #1 along with DC's company-wide renumbering of its titles that year. Writers J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman chose to expand Kate's supporting cast both in terms of her family (the Kanes, including Elizabeth, Bette and other relatives), and the "Batman Family" she is more loosely connected to. Issue seventeen was also a milestone as it featured Kate proposing to her girlfriend, Maggie Sawyer.
In September 2013, co-authors J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman announced that they would leave Batwoman after the December issue because of conflicts with DC over storylines. They remarked that they were not allowed to expand Killer Croc's back story, keep their original ending, or show Kate and Maggie getting married. This announcement follows a February 2013 announcement that Batwoman #17 will feature the proposal between Kate and Maggie. DC Comics announced that Batwoman cannot get married because "heroes shouldn't have happy personal lives".
In December 2014, it was announced that the series would be cancelled in March at issue forty, along with twelve other series.
Fictional character biography
In the original pre-Crisis continuity, Kathy Kane, a wealthy Gotham City heiress and former circus performer, decides to use her skills and resources to become a costumed crime-fighter. This is partly out of altruism and partly to attract the romantic attentions of Batman. During the Silver Age of Comics, Batwoman guest-starred occasionally in Batman stories published from 1956 to 1964. While Batman wished for Kane to retire from crime-fighting due to the danger, she remained his ally, even when she temporarily became a new version of Catwoman. In 1961, Batwoman was joined by her niece Betty Kane, the Bat-Girl. Kathy and Betty were romantically interested in Batman and Robin, respectively. Robin seemed to return Bat-Girl's affection, while Batman remained aloof. In 1964 however, DC dropped Batwoman, as well as Bat-Girl, Ace the Bat-Hound, and Bat-Mite from the Batman titles, which were undergoing a revamp under editor Julius Schwartz that eliminated many of the sci-fi elements that were introduced in the 1950s. However, Batwoman continues to make appearances in stories published during the next few years in the Batman-Superman team-up book World's Finest. The character would later reappear in the late 1970s, made guest appearances in the Batman Family and Freedom Fighters comic book series, often fighting crime alongside Barbara Gordon, who had become the new Batgirl. In a story depicting Batwoman as a retired crimefighter, she becomes the owner of a circus, which she keeps until killed by the League of Assassins and the brainwashed Bronze Tiger.
During this period, DC began heavily using the Multiverse storytelling device which posited that the publisher's earliest stories (from the Golden Age of Comic Books) took place on the parallel world of Earth-Two. DC visited the concept of an older Batwoman in Brave and the Bold #182 (1982), in a story titled "Interlude on Earth-2". In this story, which features pre-Crisis Earth-One Batman accidentally arriving on Earth-Two to battle the Earth-Two Hugo Strange alongside the adult Earth-Two Dick Grayson (Robin), Batwoman is portrayed as middle-aged and still in love with the now-deceased Commissioner Bruce Wayne of Earth-Two. Later, the conclusion of the publisher's 1985 maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths altered DC Universe continuity, subsequently changing the character histories of Batwoman and Bat-Girl. In the new continuity, Kathy Kane did exist, though her persona as Batwoman had been erased. Bat-Girl never existed either, but a superheroine named Flamebird was introduced who had a somewhat similar costume and similar name, "Bette Kane".
Despite the erasure of both Kathy Kane as Batwoman and Betty Kane as Bat-Girl, there were references to both heroines in post-Crisis publications. In Alan Moore's Batman: The Killing Joke, Batman stares at a photograph that portrays Bat-Girl, Batwoman, Ace the Bat-Hound, and Bat-Mite—characters that did not exist in continuity at the time. In Planet Krypton #1, which was part of The Kingdom storyline, a Hypertime ghost of Batwoman haunts the Planet Krypton restaurant. Batman briefly recognizes her as "Kathy", but then quickly denies knowing her. Kathy, sans her Batwoman identity, was also referenced in a few post-Crisis publications. According to The DC Comics Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to The Characters of the DC Universe (2004), Kathy was described as a wealthy former circus stuntwoman that had inherited her father's fortune and later became acquainted with Bruce Wayne as a Gotham socialite. She eventually became a crime fighting ally to Batman, although she never used the Batwoman name. The encyclopedia entry explains that she eventually purchased a circus and was murdered by a member of the League of Assassins; however, Bronze Tiger was not her killer. Her murder was again recalled in Suicide Squad #38. During the Beast Boy miniseries, Flamebird tried to post bail for Beast Boy with money "borrowed from Aunt Kathy." Flamebird further mentioned that "Aunty Kathy's in Gotham" in Teen Titans #39.
The introduction of Kate Kane as the new Batwoman following the continuity-altering events of Infinite Crisis in 2005 allowed the company to revisit elements of the Kathy Kane character it did away with following Crisis on Infinite Earths; Batman writer Grant Morrison explicitly set out to treat Batman's entire publication history as his backstory. In Detective Comics #824 (2006), the Penguin refers to Kate Kane as the new Batwoman, implying for the first time since 1985 that there was an earlier Batwoman. Later Kathy appears in a flashback story in Batman #682 (2009), in a panel showing Batman and the original Batwoman kissing, with Robin showing his distrust of her and Bat-Girl. In this story, Kathy is referred to as "Katy" Kane. In Batman #686, Batman's butler Alfred mentions that Bruce Wayne was once romantically involved with Kathy.
Grant Morrison later chose to heavily reimagine Kathy Kane in 2011 for his Batman Incorporated series. It is established that Kathy Kane was born Katherine Webb, and that she had been an aspiring independent film director prior to marrying a millionaire named Nathan Kane, the son of Roderick and Elizabeth Kane and brother of Martha (Kane) Wayne, Bruce Wayne's mother. Nathan and Kathy were madly in love with one another, and it was Nathan who ended up buying Kathy her circus as a birthday present. After Nathan's untimely death, Kathy was approached by a young man known only as Agent-33, who recruited her into a covert spy organization called Spyral. As part of her first assignment, Kathy was tasked with tracking down Batman and discovering his true identity. Donning a female variation of Batman's costume in order to gain his attention, she embarked on a career as a costumed crime-fighter while attempting to get close to Batman. Her plan succeeded but the two fell in love with one another, despite Kathy legally being Wayne's aunt. As a result, she refused to reveal his identity to her superiors at Spyral. Later, Kathy was confronted by the head of Spyral, a Nazi supervillain named Dr. Dedalus (Otto Netz) who claimed to be her real father and threatened to expose her to Batman unless she continued her mission. Heartbroken, she broke off her relationship with Bruce in order to save him from Dedalus' plan. In the present, Batman and the South American vigilante El Gaucho are told by the villainess Scorpiana that El Gaucho was responsible for Kathy's murder, as he had originally been Agent-33 prior to becoming a superhero. Batman tells Gaucho that Scorpiana must be lying since Kathy had been killed by the League of Assassins, but Gaucho claims that there is some truth in her accusations, and that Batman wouldn't understand. In the follow-up one-shot Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes, students of an assassin training facility masquerading as St. Hadrian's Finishing School For Girls in England are shown wearing variations of Kathy's Batwoman costume, with the original masks replaced by skulls. Later, these women are shown to be agents of Spyral, dedicated to hunting down Talia al Ghul, whose organisation Leviathan is waging war with Batman. Kathy reappears alive in the concluding issue of Batman Incorporated, in which she shoots Talia al Ghul dead in the Batcave. Identifying herself as St Hadrian's headmistress and requesting Batman not to go looking for her, she thanks Batman for leading Talia into her trap and reports to Spyral headquarters that one more international criminal has been killed.
Later, when Dick Grayson fakes his death and goes to work for Spyral, he works under the direction of the scheming Mr Mynos, who during a tense confrontation with Dick is assassinated by Kane, who is identified only as the current Agent Zero; she is the real head of Spyral. When Dick tries to leave the organisation behind, he knows he cannot because of the "Hypnos" implanted in his brain which allow him to hypnotise others and disguise his appearance, but also permit Spyral to monitor him always. Kathy, face disguised by hypnos, pursues Dick to Gotham and tells him to take the day to say goodbye to his friends but that he cannot leave Spyral. He travels to Gotham City and reveals he is alive to Robin, Red Robin, Red Hood and Batgirl, and communicates with them by secret code. Acting on Dick's orders, they hack the Spyral hypnos so that on their next encounter, Dick can see Agent Zero's true face. Dick's hypnos reveal Agent Zero's identity, but not the name Kathy; it surrenders up the alternative name Luka Netz, Kathy's birth name. It is later revealed that her full name is Katrina "Luka" Netz and that she has an antagonistic relationship with her sister, Frau Netz (Elisabeth Netz).
Origins and early career
In 52 #7, Kate Kane is introduced (although she is referred to as Kathy on several occasions). No Origins titles have been presented for Kate Kane; her fictional backstory is presented in Detective Comics through the use of exposition and flashbacks. In their early childhood, Katherine Rebecca "Kate" Kane and her sister Elizabeth "Beth" Kane were identical twins and were very close to each other. On their twelfth birthday, Kate and Beth were taken by their mother, Gabrielle "Gabi" Kane, to an expensive restaurant for chocolate and waffles, their favorite dish. On the way to the restaurant, a group of gunmen attacked the family and took them hostage, killing their bodyguard in the process. After learning of her family's kidnapping, Kate's father Colonel Jacob "Jake" Kane led a rescue mission to save his captured family, which ended with Kate's mother executed and Beth apparently killed after being caught in the crossfire between the kidnappers and soldiers. Years later, Jake marries Catherine Hamilton Kane. Kate is attending the United States Military Academy, where she receives excellent grades and ranks at the top of her class. However, when it is alleged that she is in a lesbian relationship with another student, Kate's commanding officer asks her to disavow the allegation. Telling the officer that she refuses to lie and violate the code of the Academy, Kate admits to being lesbian and is forced to leave the school. When she confronts her father with the news, he supports her and affirms that she upheld her honour and integrity. She then moves back to Gotham City where she attends college and pursues a wild social lifestyle. Kate is eventually pulled over for speeding by a young Renee Montoya, who was just a traffic cop at this point. The two date for several months and break up following a fight where Kate berates Renee for keeping her sexuality hidden from her colleagues and family; after Renee expresses concern about Kate's lack of direction, when it's revealed she's not been attending college. While attempting to call Renee and apologize for her behavior, Kate is attacked by a mugger who wants her wallet and cell phone. Using her military training, Kate easily defeats the criminal just as Batman arrives and helps her off the ground. She is then shown fixated by the Bat Signal as Batman flees the scene.
Inspired by her encounter with the caped crusader, Kate begins fighting crime using stolen military body armor and weaponry. After being confronted by Jake, Kate accepts his offer for assistance and begins an intense two years of training across the globe. Upon returning to Gotham, Kate discovers that her father has created a Batsuit for her, along with an arsenal of experimental weaponry based on Batman's known gadgetry and a bunker hidden in the Kane home. The first reference to the modern Batwoman is made by the Penguin in Detective Comics #824 who suggests Batman bring a date to the opening of his club, asking, "Why don't you bring that new Batwoman? I hear she's kind of hot." In 52 #7 (2006) the new Batwoman is introduced. Kane is revealed to have been intimately involved with former Gotham City police detective Renee Montoya and is heiress to one of the wealthiest families in Gotham, owning that which the Wayne family does not. In her third appearance in issue #11 of 52 entitled "Batwoman Begins," Kane assists Montoya and her partner the Question in a mystery revolving around a warehouse owned by Kane's family. When Montoya and the Question are attacked sometime later by Whisper A'Daire's shapeshifting minions, Kane intervenes as Batwoman and rescues them.
In 52 #28 (2006), after Montoya learns that the "Book of Crime," a sacred text of Intergang, contains a prophecy foretelling the brutal murder of the "twice named daughter of Kane," she and the Question return to Gotham, joining forces with Batwoman in issue #30 in order to avert Intergang's plans. Batwoman later appears in a story written by Greg Rucka for the DC Infinite Holiday Special (2006). As Batwoman continues the case, she is joined by Nightwing, who has recently returned to Gotham and becomes infatuated with her. On Christmas Eve, he gives her an 'official' Batarang. She also celebrates Hanukkah with Renee, and the two kiss shortly before Christmas. This story introduced some of Kane's background, including the fact that she is Jewish. In issue #48 of 52 (2007), when Intergang realizes that the image of Batwoman in the Crime Bible and the cited "twice-named daughter of Cain" were one and the same, they ransack Kane's apartment, kidnapping her with the intention to sacrifice her. Montoya arrives too late to stop the ritual, finding Kate bound and gagged to an altar as prophet Bruno Mannheim plunges a knife through her heart. In the ensuing confrontation, the freed Batwoman pulls the knife out of her own chest to stab Mannheim, and then collapses in Renee's arms. She survives her wounds after Renee stops the bleeding in time, however, and as she recuperates in her penthouse, Renee, disguised in her new alter ego as the Question, shines the Bat-Signal into her apartment and asks, "Are you ready?"
2007–2009: Countdown, Final Crisis
Batwoman subsequently appears in the fifty-two issue weekly series Countdown, intended to act as a prelude to DC's summer crossover event the following year. Batwoman appears in Countdown #39 (2007), after the Question confronts Trickster and Pied Piper, having trailed them from the Penguin's Iceburg Lounge nightclub. Batwoman also makes an appearance in the miniseries Crime Bible: The Five Lessons of Blood (2007) alongside the Question. Batwoman is seen again on the final page of Grant Morrison's Final Crisis #3 (2008), one month after the Anti-Life Equation was released, as a new Female Fury along with Wonder Woman, Catwoman, and Giganta. Her costume bears resemblance to the dead Fury Mad Harriet. She is also seen in Final Crisis: Revelations #3 attacking the Question after having just been infected with the Anti-Life Equation.
2009–2010: Detective Comics lead feature
Following the events of Final Crisis and Battle for the Cowl, in which Bruce Wayne has supposedly died and is replaced by Dick Grayson, Kate becomes the lead of Detective Comics from issue 854 to 863. In the first story, entitled "Elegy", Batwoman is seen investigating the arrival of a new leader of the Religion of Crime to Gotham. She briefly meets Batman (it is intentionally left ambiguous whether or not it is Dick Grayson or Bruce Wayne) to discuss her findings. Kate demonstrates greater knowledge of the Religion of Crime, and even corrects Batman by saying there's 13 and not 12 covens of the religion in Gotham. Batman concedes the case to her, and comments on the length of her hair (though panels on the same page reveal the long red wig hides her actual hair, styled short).
Aspects of her personal life are also revealed, including her relationship with her ex-colonel father; serving as Batwoman's ally, whom she addresses as "sir." The strain of her late night vigilante activity has also taken a toll on her romantic relationships. Her lateness and night time absences are interpreted by her girlfriend as an on the side liaison with another woman. She breaks the relationship off as she believes Kate is not ready to commit to an exclusive relationship. A past traumatic incident is also alluded to which she claims still haunts her. As she vaguely describes the experience, her face is shown superimposed on the page over a restrained girl with a bag over her head. She later tracks down the new leader of the Religion of Crime: an elaborately costumed woman named Alice. Over the course of the conflict that ensues, Batwoman observes that Alice only speaks in quotations from Lewis Carroll, believing herself to be Alice Liddell. Alice denies a connection to the Mad Hatter.
While attending a party thrown for the Gotham Police Department, Kate meets and flirts with detective Maggie Sawyer, and runs into her cousin Bette Kane (better known as the Teen Titans member Flamebird). Kate is apparently unaware of her cousin's vigilante activities, and inadvertently hurts her feelings when she cuts her off in the middle of a conversation to answer her cell phone. While dancing with Maggie, Kate discovers that Alice has kidnapped her father and plans to destroy Gotham by spreading a deadly airborne chemical from a hijacked airplane, thus succeeding where Mannheim failed. Batwoman boards the plane and defeats Alice's subordinates, eventually stopping the plot and rescuing her father in the process. However, Alice is accidentally thrown from the plane, only to be caught by Batwoman. Alice then shocks her by saying that Batwoman has "Our father's eyes," apparently revealing that she is in fact Kate's sister Beth (who was believed to have been killed years ago). With Batwoman stunned by the revelation, Alice stabs her in the wrist with a knife. Batwoman is forced to release her grip, sending Alice to her apparent demise in the river below.
In the aftermath of this discovery, Kate locks herself in her crime lab and tries to come to terms with what just happened, while the police struggle in vain to find any sign of Alice's corpse. These scenes are depicted amongst numerous flashback sequences that comprise most of the issue. Throughout them, back story is provided from her childhood that depicts Kate, her twin sister Beth, and their mother being kidnapped. While Kate's father is able to rescue her, it appears as though both her sister and mother have been killed by the time he arrives.
Batwoman appears in the miniseries Cry for Justice, a set-up for a new ongoing Justice League title. When the Justice League of America splits up following Bruce Wayne's death and a disastrous confrontation with the Shadow Cabinet, Green Lantern Hal Jordan leads a group of superheroes to Gotham in order to track down the supervillain known as Prometheus. Kate is shown stalking the heroes from the rooftops after they encounter Clayface. Batwoman later contacts both Leagues at the JLA Watchtower, informing them she encountered and engaged supervillain Delores Winters, who mysteriously collapsed and died right as she was about to be taken into custody. The heroes request that Kate bring the body up to them, but she declines, telling them that she is much too busy due to a rash of criminal uprisings going on in Gotham. Firestorm is then sent to retrieve the corpse from Kate and bring it to the team, who discover that Dolores was forced into fighting by means of a mind control device. In a text piece included in Justice League: Cry for Justice #6, writer James Robinson revealed that Batwoman was initially intended to be part of his new Justice League line-up, but this plan fell apart after Cry For Justice was shortened into a miniseries rather than an ongoing title. This explains why Batwoman is present on the cover of the first issue, and why she was initially said to be a member of the team when the book was first announced.
Later, Kate appears as part of Batman and Robin: Blackest Knight. Batwoman is kidnapped by cultists and taken to London in order for her to once again be sacrificed. She is sealed within a coffin and taken underground to the last remaining Lazarus Pit in order for the ritual to begin. She is saved by the timely intervention of Dick Grayson and British superheroes Knight and Squire. After learning that Grayson plans on placing Bruce Wayne's corpse into the pit in order to revive him, Kate strongly protests, but he simply ignores her. True to Kate's warnings, Bruce (in reality an insane clone created by Darkseid) emerges from the Pit and attacks the heroes. As the battle takes place, the cultists who kidnapped Kate detonate explosives surrounding the Pit, causing a massive cave-in. Grayson discovers Kate, buried alive and with extensive injury to her spine and legs, and tries to help her. Kate is healed after being placed inside the Pit, and she returns to Gotham with the others. Before leaving to return to her home, Grayson flirts with Kate by telling her that he has a thing for red-haired crime-fighters (a reference to his previous love interests, Barbara Gordon and Starfire), apparently unaware of Kate's sexuality.
Batwoman also begins hunting down a crazed serial killer known as the Cutter, who has been abducting young women and cutting off parts of their face in order to create the perfect woman. He eventually kidnaps Bette, but Kate tracks the killer to his lair and attacks him. During the fight, Batwoman reveals her identity to Bette when she mentions her tennis career, and in the aftermath Bette is seen in her Flamebird outfit, saying that she wants to be Kate's new partner.
2010–2015: self-titled series
Promotional art for Batwoman #1 (September 2011).
Art by J. H. Williams III.
|Publication date||September 2011 – April 2015|
|Number of issues||40|
J. H. Williams III
W. Haden Blackman
|Artist(s)||J. H. Williams III
In 2010, DC announced that Batwoman would star in a series with art by J. H. Williams III, who would also co-write the series with writer W. Haden Blackman. Artist Amy Reeder Hadley would also contribute art, alternating story arcs with Williams. The series' introductory "zero issue" was released on November 24, 2010. The launch of Batwoman #1 was originally scheduled for February 2011, then delayed until spring; in early March it was announced that Batwoman #1 would be released sometime in Fall 2011, as part of the New 52 rebooted DC Universe. In September 2013, J. H. Williams III announced that he together with Blackman quit the series after alleging creative difference with the producers, citing a sudden change to not allow Batwoman to marry her partner as Williams and Blackman had planned.
Batwoman appears as a member of an all-female team of heroes created by Wonder Woman to repel a faux-alien invasion of Washington DC masterminded by Professor Ivo. After the battle is over, Kate asks Wonder Woman if she'd like to accompany Kate and the other heroines to a bar in order to celebrate, but Wonder Woman politely turns them down in order to attend the college graduation ceremony of her old friend, Vanessa Kapatelis.
In Batman Inc. Batwoman later appears while tracking down a gangster named Johnny Valentine, who is wanted for his connection to the murders of three marines. She tracks him to a local circus, the same one once owned by her predecessor, Kathy Kane. While chasing Valentine through a haunted house, Batwoman is attacked by what appears to be Kathy's ghost. Batwoman struggles with and eventually defeats the "ghost", who is revealed to be nothing more than a blonde-haired female assassin clad in a wig and a replica of Kathy's costume. Kate realizes that she recognizes the assassin, and asks her father to run a facial-recognition scan. While Kate restrains her attacker, her father reveals that Valentine is connected to a supervillain operating out of South America, and tells Kate that she needs to get down there to find out what is going on.
|Title||Material collected||Date Published||Notes|
|Batwoman: Elegy||Detective Comics #854–860||July 2010||978-1401231460|
|Batwoman, Vol. 1: Hydrology||Batwoman #1–5, #0 one-shot||June 2012||978-1781163610|
|Batwoman, Vol. 2: To Drown the World||Batwoman #6–11||January 2013||978-1401237905|
|Batwoman, Vol. 3: World's Finest||Batwoman #0, #12–17||September 2013||978-1401242466|
|Batwoman, Vol. 4: This Blood is Thick||Batwoman #18–24||April 2014||978-1401246211|
|Batwoman, Vol. 5: Webs||Batwoman #25–34, Annual #1||November 2014||978-1401250829|
|Batwoman, Vol. 6: The Unknowns||Secret Origins #3, Batwoman #35–40, Annual #2, Batwoman Futures End #1||June 2015||978-1401254681|
2016–present: return to Detective Comics
When a group of mysterious villains begin targeting Gotham's vigilantes, Batman recruits Batwoman to help run a "boot camp" for young heroes, consisting of Red Robin, Orphan, Spoiler and Clayface.
- The 1996 limited series Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross presents a Batwoman portrayed as a Batman admirer from Jack Kirby's Fourth World. Her costume mixed Kirby-esque elements with those of the original costume. The character rode a giant bat-winged dog named Ace.
- Batman: Dark Knight Dynasty (1997) features Vice-President Brenna Wayne who becomes Batwoman in order to stop Vandal Savage. Wayne discovers a conspiracy against her family after investigating the last thirteen generations of the Wayne family.
- The Kingdom: Planet Krypton (February 1999) references the Silver Age Batwoman. The Kingdom introduced the concept of Hypertime, in which characters who had been removed from continuity still exist in alternate timelines. A Planet Krypton theme restaurant (modeled after Planet Hollywood) finds itself "haunted" by silent "Hypertime ghosts" of characters who are no longer part of DC continuity. Batman comes face to face with Batwoman and says, "Kathy?" Later, Batman says there is no possible way he could know her.
- JLA: The Nail (1998) by Alan Davis features Selina Kyle adopting a Batwoman costume based on the costume worn by Kathy Kane. The 2004 sequel, JLA: Another Nail, features her fashioning her own Batwoman persona.
- Superman/Batman #24 (November 2005) presents a world where the genders of the characters are reversed with Helena Wayne as Batwoman. DC later placed this alternate reality as "Earth 11" in the post-Infinite Crisis multiverse.
- In the Teen Titans storyline "Titans Tomorrow" (2005), Bette Kane is Batwoman, and wears a costume similar to Kathy's pre-Crisis one. In the follow up storyline, "Titans of Tomorrow... Today!" (2007), Bette Kane remains Flamebird and former Batgirl Cassandra Cain becomes Batwoman.
- In the Flashpoint universe, Kate Kane is a member of Team 7, an elite unit of soldiers led by Grifter. Kate, along with most of the team, is killed during a botched attack on a Jihadist training camp in Flashpoint: Lois Lane and the Resistance #2 (July 2011).
- In Batman '66 #2, Kathy Kane is Bruce's Wayne's date to a concert by Chandell. She later rescues Batman from an attack by the Siren that causes him to experience a series of bizarre hallucinations. During the hallucinations Batman briefly sees Kathy as a woman wearing the Silver Age Batwoman costume.
- In the comic book adaptation of Injustice: Gods Among Us, Batwoman (Kate Kane) appears as a member of Batman's Insurgency. She is also married to Renee Montoya in this continuity. At the end of the Year Three series she and Huntress fight Wonder Woman of Superman's Regime, with the latter being accidentally killed by the Amazon; while Wonder Woman is shocked by this, a furious Kate beats her into submission. Her grudge towards Wonder Woman continues into Year Four, where she also suffers the death of Renee after she overdosed on enhancement pills. When the Regime and the Greek Gods battle at the Hall of Justice, Kate gets revenge on Wonder Woman by strangling her with her own Lasso of Truth, recreating Huntress' experience. However, while she acknowledged she wants Diana dead, she lets her live as a sign that she is a better person. In Year Five, when an underground resistance is built up and named after the Joker, she confronts them in their hideout and tells them the Joker is not a man who should be honored. In the conclusion of the series, she seemingly sacrifices herself when she helped transport the other universe's Justice League to their world.
- In Batwoman: Futures End #1, five years into the future, Kate Kane was turned into a vampire and unable to control her thirst for blood, she began attacking people. She was eventually killed, when her sister Beth drove a stake through her heart.
- In DC Comics Bombshells, which take place in an alternate history version of World War II, there are four versions of the character:
- Kate Kane operates in Gotham City as the hero, Batwoman, while also being the mysterious #52 of the Gotham Knights baseball team. She gets to save the Wayne family from a mugger, making her a true hero to the eyes of a young Bruce Wayne. Kate has had some military experience (she served as an American volunteer in the Spanish Civil War, where she was the lover of the Republican soldier Renee Montoya) and currently runs her father’s company, handling it through the Great Depression. She is also in a relationship with Detective Maggie Sawyer. She is later enlisted by Amanda Waller to fight in the war along with several other heroines. Before she leaves Gotham, Kate makes her cousin Bette, another baseball player from the rival Gotham Griffins team, the new protector of the city.
- Katherine Webb, a member of the Kane family and the aunt to both Kate and Bette, is the Headmistress of Pinkney Orphanage. She was left in charge of the orphanage by Kate before she left Gotham. Headmistress Webb is a xenophobic woman, who uses the orphans to make robots in order to protect the country from foreigners, whom she characterizes as "evil". She is later defeated by a team of Batgirls, including Bette, who come to the orphanage to save the orphans.
- Kathleen "Kathy" Duquesne, an auto mechanic and the leader of a team of Batgirls, who protect the city during Batwoman's absence. Along with Kathy, the team includes Nell Little, Harper Row and later on Alysia Yeoh and Bette Kane. Upon meeting Bette, Kathy immediately recognizes her as a baseball player and later figures out her real identity as well as her connection to Batwoman but promises to keep it a secret. The Batgirls save the orphans of Pinkney Orphanage from the devious Headmistress and later expand their team, welcoming Tim Drake, Cullen Row and Felicity Smoak, and creating a Bat family.
- Sonia Alcana appears as an officer of Gotham City Police Department, partnered with Crispus Allen and working with Maggie Sawyer to aid Batwoman into her fight against crime in the city.
In other media
- In the The Batman animated series, the name 'Batwoman' was occasionally used. In the two-parter "Batgirl Begins", Barbara Gordon wanted to be called 'Batwoman' before settling with the Batgirl name. The episode "Artifact" shows Martha Wayne mistakenly identified as 'Batwoman' along with Thomas Wayne as Batman and their son (instead of Dick Grayson) as Red Robin.
- Batwoman appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "The Criss Cross Conspiracy!", voiced by Vanessa Marshall. Though visually based on the Kathy Kane Batwoman, the character is never actually called 'Batwoman' and is also original character Katrina Moldoff, the heiress to the Moldoff Circus fortune. On his Formspring page, Brave and the Bold director Ben Jones confirmed that the decision to rename the character was brought about after DC Comics voiced concerns about the episode's depiction of the character having a negative impact on the new Batwoman comic book series, the first issue of which launched less than a month after the episode's initial air date. She is portrayed as a thrill seeker and a trained circus acrobat whom Batman dislikes due to her crime fighting occasionally endangering innocent bystanders. When she is unmasked in public by the Riddler, she's forced to give up her crime-fighting life. She attempts to get revenge by encouraging Felix Faust to use a spell to switch her and Batman's bodies, allowing her to get closer to the Riddler without the police coming after her. When she fails, Batman rescues her and gets Faust to switch them back. She escapes police custody at the end of the episode.
- Batwoman appeared in the direct-to-video animated film Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman, voiced by Kyra Sedgwick. In this storyline, which conforms to the continuity of the DC animated universe, Batwoman is a new vigilante operating in Gotham City who is willing to use lethal force to achieve her goals. She targets the illegal operations of the Penguin and crime bosses Rupert Thorne and Carlton Duquesne. Viewed as a threat, Batman investigates Batwoman in an attempt to uncover her identity and bring her, as well as her targets, to justice. In his investigation, Batman suspects three different women to be Batwoman: Gotham Police Detective Sonia Alcana (voiced by Elisa Gabrielli), Dr. Roxanne "Rocky" Ballantine (voiced by Kelly Ripa) and Kathleen "Kathy" Duquesne (voiced by Kimberly Brooks). (The name Kathy Duquesne is a thinly-veiled reference to Kate Kane. In the DVD and Blu-ray special features, the producers explain that DC didn't want the filmmakers to use Kate Kane in a family-friendly movie due to the violence associated with her character.) It's eventually revealed that all three women have been posing as Batwoman with grudges against the crime bosses, each acting at a different point to draw suspicion from all three of them.
- Batwoman makes a cameo in Batman vs. Robin. During one of Batman's nightmares, she's one of the fallen bodies next to Damian Wayne's Batman.
- Batwoman appears in Batman: Bad Blood. She is voiced by actress Yvonne Strahovski. This version of Batwoman has military training but is berated by Batman for using live guns and ammunition in combat. Her lesbianism is freely addressed by her father at one point early in the film, and she is shown meeting Renee Montoya, who comes to her house at the end of the movie.
- The Kate Kane version of Batwoman appears in DC Universe Online video game, voiced by Christina J. Moore.
- Kate Kane's Batwoman appears as a DLC playable character in Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.
- Kate Kane is featured in Batman: Arkham Knight. She is heard on Bruce Wayne's answering machine where she mentions her marriage to Maggie Sawyer, (confirming that she is indeed a lesbian in the Arkham-Verse). Kate mentions that Bruce taught her the importance of keeping up appearances, hinting that she has already become Batwoman.
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