Hello and welcome to Comic Plug’s Woman Crush Wednesday (#WCW) – a weekly series that shines a light on female series, characters, and writers. This week we’re crushing on Batwoman a.k.a (spoiler) Kate Kane. Kane’s parents were military higher-ups. On her twelfth birthday she was kidnapped by terrorists and saw her mother and twin sister murdered. Kane vowed to be the best soldier she could and followed in her parents military footsteps. Years later she was a promising cadet at West Point Military Academy when she was discharged under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Her dismissal left her without purpose and she spent time partying on her wealthy stepmothers dime. Her life found direction again after a man attempted to mug her and she came face-to-face with The Batman.
Comparing Batman and Batwoman is inevitable, since they share a city and symbol, and in some respects they are similar. Batwoman consciously chooses to follow Batman’s “no killing” rule. She also had extensive training in combat and resisting torture. She has some very high-tech gear (though hers was stolen from the military and is later given to her by the D.E.O. – The Department of Extranormal Operations, which is a government organization she chooses to work for to keep her father out of military prison). By day Kate Kane is a partying socialite and she has a young female sidekick, her cousin Bette. Can you say jinx?
Still, it’s the differences that make Batwoman a hero in her own right. Batwoman’s foes are all supernatural. Legends of myth, and sci-fi. She fights Bloody Mary, and The Weeping Woman. She doesn’t use detective work in the way that Batman does. There is no “villain under the mask”. These are true monsters and so she must use her mental fortitude to stay sane and her physical training to stay alive. Similarly, Batman is portrayed in this series as a calculating observer. Conversely, Batwoman is not a person to sit back and wait to see how things unfold. She leaps into action with the information she has at hand.
Batwoman’s independence sets her apart. Though her father set her up with the people that trained her, and originally supplied her with her weapons, without him she was still a masked vigilante stopping robberies and assaults throughout Gotham. Once she joins the D.E.O. she establishes her independence further by breaking ties with her father. She continues to assert her dominance in the partnership by following her own set of morals (and continually breaking their observation equipment). She even turned down the opportunity to join Batman, Inc., Bruce Wayne’s league of Batmen. Kane does not rely on her father, the D.E.O., or even Batman and would continue fighting her cause without them.
Finally, and possibly most superficially, Batwoman is our woman crush this week because of her style. I’m not sure if DC was trying to break the stereotype of “butch lesbian” by creating a beautiful and feminine character or if they were comfortable portraying a lesbian only if she dresses provocatively and wears makeup (damned if you do, damned if you don’t; amirite?). I’d prefer to think that it is the former. It is refreshing to engage with an out-and-proud lesbian who does not have a deep seeded hatred for men, a dozen cats, and/or a collection of flannel shirts.
Normally, I find it difficult to appreciate female characters who are based on male superheros. It smacks of a lack of creativity and vaguely reminds me of the story of Eve being made from Adam’s rib. As if a woman, or character, could not exist without there being a male first. With all that in mind I was skeptical of Batwoman and her ability to stand on her own as a hero. In the end I was pleasantly surprised that she does.
What did you think about our #WCW this week? Who or what would you like to see featured? Let me know in the comments below!