A modern heroine for a modern age, Batwoman, a.k.a. Kate Kane, is one of DC’s most recognized LGBTQ+ superheroes. Ironically, her origins initially portrayed her as the exact opposite. Kathy Kane, as she was originally known, made her comic debut in “Detective Comics” #233 (July 1956), as Batwoman, a glamorous, smart, and very straight superhero, who perfectly rivaled Batman. Created by writer Edmond Hamilton and artist Sheldon Moldoff under the direction of editor Jack Schiff, she was intended as a love interest for the Dark Knight.
Although she was scrubbed from DC’s character roster in 1964 and then wiped from existence in 1985 during the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” maxi-series, she returned in 2006 as an entirely new Batwoman, purged from her previous social and romantic constraints and more badass than ever! Here are 15 things that you should know about her.
15. SHE’S GAY
Yup, and she’s proud of it! Not only was she given a revamped costume that was originally intended for Barbara Gordon, she was also given a new sexual identity. Unlike her Silver Age counterpart, she’s not attracted to Batman, not by a long shot! Katherine “Kate” Kane as she’s now known first entered the DC universe in “52” #7 and her past relationship with Gotham Police Detective Renee Montoya is revealed in that issue. The controversial decision to make her a gay character proved popular with fans and the LGBTQ+ community alike, and DC Comics Senior Vice-President and Executive Editor, Dan DiDio, stated the reason for this decision being their desire to diversify the DC universe.
Inside the DC universe, her sexuality has also had profound consequences. After the death of Bruce Wayne, writer Greg Rucka and artist J.H. Williams III gave Kate Kane the lead role in “Detective Comics” and, in that series, we find out that while studying at the United States Military Academy, she was accused of having a lesbian relationship with her roommate, an accusation which she refused to deny. She’s then forced to leave the academy, and this becomes a defining moment in her life. Although not the first lesbian character to be associated with Batman, she’s certainly the most high-profile one.
14. SHE’S JEWISH
It’s hard to imagine Batman, let alone any superhero, having time for cultural and religious inclinations. One thing that has always alluded Batman, much to his detriment, is any kind of life beyond his identity as the Caped Crusader. Sure he may watch the odd movie or two, and have occasional random encounters with various female superheroes, but those are shallow pastimes. Part of the great appeal that Batwoman has is her well-rounded identity. More than just being “a gay superhero,” she’s also shown to be a Jewish woman in a way that flows naturally instead of representing her as token lesbian of Jewish faith.
Greg Rucka introduces us to this aspect of her life in the “DC Infinite Holiday Special” (2006) where, shortly before kissing Renee Montoya, the two celebrate Hanukkah together on Christmas Eve. It’s a compelling background like this that enables modern day readers to connect with the new Batwoman, and it’s no wonder that her popularity skyrocketed after appearing in “Detective Comics.” Although there are other Jewish superheroes such as Martin Stein (Firestorm), Batwoman is again the most high-profile and the most obvious of the bunch.
13. SHE’S STINKING RICH
“52” #7 also gives us a detailed account of Batwoman’s intriguing origin. Her mother and father, Jacob and Gabrielle Kane, worked in military intelligence, moving all around the world as they were promoted again and again, and presumably earning a lot of money! Kate had a twin sister named Beth and, on their twelfth birthday, their mother took them to an expensive restaurant to eat chocolates and waffles.
As expected, they were kidnapped on the way. Her mother was executed and her sister was caught in the crossfire between kidnappers and soldiers, apparently dying. Despite this, her father recovered pretty well, going on to marry billionaire weapons heiress Catherine Hamilton. Kate was instantly raised to the lofty status of wealthy socialite, giving her the perfect alter ego and a lot of money to burn on her lavish lifestyle. As both Kate Kane and Batwoman, she rivals Bruce Wayne in every way.
12. SHE KNOWS HOW TO PARTY
It’s rare to see Batman or the other members of the team goofing around or taking time to relax. Bruce Wayne can be seen at parties, drinking and socializing, but we know it’s all a complicated act to protect his true identity as Batman. Kate Kane on other hand, was never pretending. After being kicked out of the military academy for admitting to being in a lesbian relationship with her roommate, she moved back to her hometown of Gotham City, and there became a notorious night owl, drinking and dancing the night away, every night.
During this time she also dropped out of college, broke up with her girlfriend at the time (more on this in entry #9) and generally had no purpose in life. A flashback in “Detective Comics” shows us how on one of these nights, she was attacked by a mugger as she left a club. After defeating him, Batman showed up to help, inadvertently inspiring Kate to forsake her partying in favor of becoming a vigilante.
11. SHE HAS A MILITARY BACKGROUND
Leaving the United States Military Academy wasn’t the end of her experience with the military, it was only the beginning. In her early crime-fighting days, she used stolen military equipment and armor to outfit herself as Batwoman, and that’s when things got really interesting. The backstory given in “Detective Comics” tells us that Jacob Kane forgave her when she was kicked out of the military academy, seeing that his daughter had the integrity and the courage to stick with her convictions. But then he went and did something extra awesome when he found out she was using stolen military equipment to fight crime. In this instance, he not only forgave her, but also used his military connections to empower her, sending her on an intense two years of training around the world. In this respect, Batwoman differs greatly from the other members of team Bat in that she wasn’t personally trained by Batman and had to earn her place on the team rather than being invited.
On a side note, in “Flashpoint,” an alternate timeline created by the Flash, she actually has a short career as a soldier. In “Flashpoint: Lois Lane and the Resistance” #2, Kate is killed alongside most of her team while attempting to attack a Jihadist training camp.
10. HER DAD SUPPORTS HER
Unlike most of the other superhero dads who are either dead, absent or just plain evil, Kate’s dad has always been her most loyal supporter. Knowing her secret puts him at great risk, a fact that doesn’t seem to faze him, because when she returned to Gotham City, he had another surprise waiting for her: her very own Batsuit and Batcave (of a sort) built right into the family home!
Of course her dad has taken things a bit too far at times, like when he formed his own Bat-army in “Detective Comics” #934 and invited her to lead it with him, although desperate times did call for desperate measures with a semi-crazy newly resurrected Batman on the loose. Extreme examples aside, how many superhero dads support their children in this way and how many are still alive to stand by their side? Batwoman having one living parent (and a step-mum) gives her character a touch of much-needed humanity that we can all appreciate.
9. SHE DATED THE QUESTION
Isn’t she gay? Yup, nothing has changed there, much to Nightwing’s dismay (more on that later). The Question we’re referring to here is Renee Montoya, the incarnation of the questionable (pun intended) detective turned superhero who premiered prior to the New 52 era of DC Comics. Technically, they didn’t date when Montoya was actually the Question; she was still just a young traffic cop at the time, and ended up dating Kate instead of arresting her for speeding.
She must have some charm! “Detective Comics” details their brief tryst and break up, which occurred after Batwoman confronted Montoya about hiding her sexuality from her friends and family. They never rekindled their love affair, but did partner up to solve crimes in “Detective Comics” #936. And although it’s non-canon, in “Injustice Gods Among Us Year 4” #3, a depressed Montoya overdoses on super pills while attempting to take out Superman and Batwoman gets pretty choked up about it, so much so that she tries (and almost succeeds) to kill Wonder Woman in revenge.
8. SHE HAS AN EVIL TWIN
Turns out Elizabeth “Beth” Kane wasn’t so dead after all. Dead siblings always come back to wreck their superhero brothers or sisters’ lives, because for some reason, they’re never interested in catching up over coffee. Created by Greg Rucka and J.H. William III, Beth was first seen in “Detective Comics” #854 as the Religion of Crime supervillain known as Alice, the pieces of her origin story slowly coming together during this arc.
She survived her kidnapping, but subsequently went insane, joining the Religion of Crime and creating a persona for herself that was based on the main character in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” stories. She quickly rose to power within the crime syndicate and kidnapped Colonel Kane in the hopes of acquiring a toxic gas. In the resulting conflict between her and Batwoman, she falls from a plane, only to be resurrected in a strange sarcophagus (it never ends!). Eventually, Alice/Beth is taken to an offshore treatment facility by Jacob Kane in the hopes that her mind could be restored.
7. SHE’S A MASTER OF STEALTH
A prerequisite for any member of team Batman is to be able to move like a ninja, as Batman himself has demonstrated considerable skill in this area throughout the years. Take, for example, “All-Star Batman” #1, where he manages to make himself and Two-Face disappear even after being shot in the back beforehand! How does Batwoman match up to this incredible display of ninja prowess? Pretty well actually.
In fact, she even manages to sneak up on Supergirl at one point, which very few heroes have ever managed to do. Batman himself also compliments her as a master of stealth, which is high praise indeed! “Detective Comics” #233 introduces Batwoman with the following introduction: “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!””
6. SHE HAS A SUPERHERO COUSIN
Following the events of “Infinite Crisis,” Batwoman also gets her own sidekick in the form of her superhero cousin Bette Kane, a.k.a. Flamebird. In “Detective Comics” #856, Bette moves to Gotham City to enroll in Gotham University. She encounters her cousin at a party thrown for the Gotham City Police Department, and tries to talk to her, only to be blown off. In Detective Comics #862, Bette asks Kate for help with letting go of her past (she previously tried to be a superhero but failed miserably).
Unfortunately, Bette is soon kidnapped by the Cutter, a serial killer who really wants to cut off her ears in order to create what he feels is the perfect woman. As can be expected, Batwoman comes to the rescue before he can succeed and somehow reveals her identity in the process, prompting Bette to request to be her partner. Kate begins to train her and, over time, she becomes a formidable martial artist, and learns to use pyrotechnical weapons.
5. SHE’S RELATED TO BRUCE WAYNE
Okay so this one might get a little complicated due to the fact that nobody stays dead in the comic book universe. So the original Silver Age Batwoman, let’s call her Batwoman I, was Kathy Kane. However, her original name was Kathy Web, and she married into the Kane family via Nathan Kane. Why does that matter? Well Nathan Kane was actually Martha Wayne’s younger brother, making Batwoman I Bruce Wayne’s aunt! To make matters worse, she was enamored with Batman for a time and they even dated! This all takes place during Grant Morrison’s 2011 “Batman Incorporated” series. The relationship develops until Bruce and Kathy get engaged, only for it all to be called off when Kathy discovers that a Nazi supervillain named Dr. Dedalus is actually her long-lost dad! Kathy is subsequently killed by the League of Assassins in “Detective Comics” #485 only to reappear decades later to shoot Talia al Ghul in the Batcave. That’s just too much drama, even for Batman.
4. SHE WAS NEARLY RITUALLY SACRIFICED
In this case, nearly doesn’t mean saved at the last minute, it means actually stabbed in the heart by a crazy cultist named Bruno Mannheim, the leader of Intergang. How the heck did that happen? Well it all starts in “52” #25 when Intergang discovers and begins to follow the words of the Crime Bible, the sacred text that teaches criminals to be uber evil. Intergang discovers a prophecy in it that they believes relates to Kate Kane and, by issue #48 of the series, they’ve kidnapped her, intending to sacrifice her in a ritual that will reduce Gotham to flames.
Montoya manages to stop the ritual, but not before Bruno stabs Batwoman in the heart. However the joke’s on Bruno, because superheroes don’t go down that easily, especially not members of team Bat! Kate pulls the knife out of her chest and fatally stabs Bruno in the back with it! Thanks to the quick actions of Montoya, and a little help from technology that just happens to be available, Kate survives, although her breathing is forever impaired. Phew!
3. SHE WAS A FEMALE FURIE
Who are the Female Furies you ask? Imagine a group of super-angry, superhuman women, each as powerful as Wonder Woman and fanatically loyal to Darkseid. Oh and they’re also led by the psychotic Granny Goodness, one of the most evil villains in the DC universe. Somewhere along the line, the original Furies decide to betray Darkseid and are almost all killed or exiled for their betrayal.
During the events of Grant Morrison’s “Final Crisis,” Catwoman, Batwoman, Wonder Woman and Giganta are all brainwashed into becoming Darkseid’s newest Female Furies. They are given appearances that are similar to the four original Female Furies and Batwoman is possessed by the spirit of Mad Harriet, one of her Furie predecessors who was accidentally killed when Apokolip’s Dog Soldiers shot her instead of Mary Marvel. The possessed Batwoman wears the deceased Furie’s energy gauntlets, her Batsuit, and wields twin pistols. The energy gauntlets she gains are extremely powerful, able to damage even the strongest of meta-humans.
2. SHE WAS ONCE A FILMMAKER
Is there anything Batwoman can’t do? Well when there’s two of you, a lot more can be accomplished, and it was Batwoman I, Kathy Kane, who was an aspiring independent film director in her early life. Taking place in “Batman Incorporated,” the tale told describes Kathy meeting and falling madly in love with Nathan Kane, the aforementioned sibling of Martha Wayne. Nathan himself was a millionaire, and as a token of his undying love for Kathy, purchased a circus for her as a birthday present.
Alas, Nathan met a tragic end, while Kathy was recruited into a spy organization named Spyral by the mysterious Agent-33, who tasked her with discovering Batman’s true identity. That’s why she disguised herself as Batwoman to gain his attention! Unfortunately, her plans were scuppered when the two fell in love, which we addressed earlier. Kathy goes on to become the head of Spyral, taking up the moniker of Agent Zero.
1. NIGHTWING HAD A THING FOR HER
In “52” #28 after Montoya learns of Intergang’s plans to sacrifice Kate, she and the previous incarnation of the Question return to Gotham, joining forces with Batwoman in issue #30. Following on from these events, Nightwing joins the trio in “DC Infinite Holiday Special.” Dick Grayson had recently returned from an epic trip retracing the journey that Bruce Wayne took to become Batman, and he had broken off his engagement to Barbara Gordon.
Kate Kane is portrayed as being extremely attractive with porcelain skin, so how could he resist this femme fatale? In fact a year after “52” commences the Penguin says to Batman “Why don’t you bring that new Batwoman? I hear she’s kind of hot.” Even supervillains want to try their luck with Batwoman! Nightwing quickly falls for her and gives her an official Batarang on Christmas Eve, hoping to sweeten the deal. Unfortunately for him, she’s not interested and instead chooses to spend the night with Montoya, whom she still carries a torch for at this point.
Got another tantalizing tidbit about Batwoman? Share it in the comments!
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