Comic book fans were all surprised to hear that DC Comics‘ next big
announcement wasn’t released via standard comic media outlets, but
instead it was announced by the media juggernaut known as “The New York
Times.” The Sunday edition of the times featured an extensive article on
DC Comics, in the Arts & Entertainment section, in which DC Comics
current direction was explored. Mention was made of the increased
diversity in the DCU, namely that of the new Hispanic male lead in “Blue
Beetle” and…a lesbian Batwoman?
While comic fans have debated the merits of this new Batwoman, named
Kate Kane, a Gotham City socialite (named in honor of the Silver Age
Batwoman, Kathy Kane, who came to life in 1956 and died in 1979), and if
her relationship with girlfriend Renee Montoya (a popular Gotham City
Police Officer) was for shock value or an attempt at appealing to a
different audience, something strange happened: the major news outlets
It’s important to note that Kate Kane is for all intents and purposes an
all-new character in the DC Universe, even with her soon to be revealed
connections to the Batman mythos. The character isn’t “turning lesbian”
as some news outlets have inferred, but is instead being created from
scratch with those traits existing from point of character conception.
But the attention being lauded upon this Batwoman, from NPR discussions
to the television program “The View” including Batwoman in their “Hot
Topics,” is the kind reserved for events like the “Death Of Superman”
storyline. Author Judd Winick’s storyline in “Green Lantern,” featuring
then-GL Kyle’s friend coming out to him, garnered attention in some
papers and on the late night cable talk shows, but this Batwoman story
has seen a much more diverse, and in depth, mainstream discussion. Even
Marvel Comics’ “Rawhide Kid” series never saw this much attention from
the big press outlets.
There are also stark differences in the discussions on ABC’s “The View” and
“New York Daily News,” versus the way the topic is being discussed among
comic book fans. The mainstream news outlets see this new Batwoman as
symbolizing something never before seen in comics (a “big” gay
character) and new thematic ground (homosexuality discussed openly), but
also tend to feature very polarizing discussions. By comparison, though
many comic book fans are liberals, there’s a far more nuanced discussion
among comic book fans. Fans have discussed everything from how DC is
marketing the character to how sexuality should be handled in comics, as
they’re well versed in how the comic book industry has been tackling
homosexuality for decades. There was the outing of Marvel Comics’
Northstar, the way the entire X-Men mythos has been seen as a metaphor
for minority groups such as homosexuals (even more apparent in the
recent films), and gay and lesbian relationships have been explored in
many independently produced comics, as well as in comic published by DC
Comics’ mature readers imprint, Vertigo.
All this press provides DC Comics not only with a lot of press for their
weekly series “52” and their entire comic book line, but a unique
opportunity to show the nuances of the current comic book industry. The
company has an historic opportunity to really explore homosexuality in
the media spotlight and really show how the medium has grown since most
people read their last “Archie” comic book. While no one wants the new
Batwoman reduced to a simple stereotype or for writers to get on their
soapbox, this character (and possible “Batwoman” series) could greatly
help legitimize the comic book medium in the eyes of many non-readers.
Stay tuned to CBR News for more on this developing story.
For those keeping score at home, Kate debuts in “52” #11 and CBR News features a weekly “52” review/discussion column. You can also join the discussion on CBR’s Batman Forum.
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