Batwoman, or a bat-storm in a teacup


Last weekend, DC Comics released a press release regarding a character who is going to pop up in their series ’52’ (more on this series in a later post, I expect).  This character is a reinvention of Batwoman, a crimefighter who notched up around 50 appearances from her debut in 1956 to her last significant appearance in 1979.  So hardly a major player in the comics world, although some remember her fondly.

However, the story has been picked up by most major news outlets, with varying degrees of outrage, due to one word.  Lesbian.  Shock, horror, Batwoman is going to be Kate Kane, a wealthy lesbian from Gotham City who had a previous relationship with Renee Montoya, a female cop who’s been floating around in comics and cartoons since 1992.  ‘Batwoman reinvented as a lesbian!’ they cry.  ‘Whatever happened to the heroes of old?‘ asks the BBC website.  It’s all too bizarre for words.  Why do they care?  Comics rarely make the news.  Gay and lesbian characters, and indeed heroes, have been around for years.  Very few people have even heard of Batwoman (I suppose some might assume she’s the same character as Batgirl).  And yet, you combine the Bat-prefix and homosexuality, and suddenly it’s a story!  And yet my initial reaction was ‘so what?’

I like comics.  I like DC comics.  I may like this Batwoman, I don’t know, I haven’t read any of her appearances yet (as she won’t appear until July).  Whether she is gay or straight, black or white, wealthy or poor, young or old really doesn’t matter.  They only thing that will matter is this – is she a compelling character?  Do I care about her?  Do I want to read more about her?  I don’t know yet, but I suspect many comics fans have already made up their minds.  ‘Batwoman as a lesbian is an awful idea’ or ‘Batwoman as a lesbian is a fantastic idea’.  Comics fans can be a bit scary, refusing to read things for very bizarre reasons.  I hope they give the character a chance.  I hope the writers have come up with a decent character.  And  hope the media don’t forget what they seem to have stumbled across – comics are a diverse medium, with a range of styles and characters.  Sometimes they could even be mistaken for ‘real’ literature. 

As far as I’m concerned, a greater number of heroes who are not straight white males has to be a good thing, as long as they are characters rather than walking labels.  We shall see.

  1. Hello,

    Just wanted to let you know I linked to your blog in my column on CBSNews.com today. Thanks!

    If you want to take a look, here’s the link: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/06/06/blogophile/main1685601.shtml

    Thanks,
    Melissa

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