Character Publication History
Out of the various members of the Batman extended family, one of the most popular in recent years has been Batwoman. Originally introduced in Detective Comics #233 in 1956, Katherine “Kathy” Kane was introduced to expand the Batman family and counter claims of Batman and Robin being gay, thus restricting her in many ways as a romantic interest. Despite her growing popularity, Kathy Kane was replaced by Barbara Gordon/Batgirl in the 1960s. The character of Batwoman was rather dormant until she was reimagined in August 2006. Reintroduced as the maternal cousin of Bruce Wayne, she was also changed to be a red head and lesbian. The change in her sexual orientation gained national media attention for the character and gave DC Comics one of their most popular LGBT characters.
When questioned about the decision to make Batwoman an LGBT character, DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio stated “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.” Since her re-introduction in 2006, Batwoman has grown in popularity resulting in her taking over as the lead of Detective Comics and gaining her own solo-series.
Fictional Character Origins
Due to changes in storylines and character history since the events of The News 52, we’ll use the Prime Earth character origins.
Kate Kane was born in Gotham City and is the daughter of US Army Colonel Jacob Kane and Army Captain Gabi Kane. Her father is Martha Wayne’s brother, making Kate the cousin of Bruce Wayne. Due to her parent’s active military service, she moved around frequently until her family went overseas to Brussels, Belgium. In Belgium, during her 12th birthday, Kate, her mom, and sister Elizabeth were kidnapped by terrorists. While Kate was rescued her mom and sister weren’t as lucky and Kate became traumatized by their death. Kate went on to study at West Point where she did very well but was expelled her final year after coming out as lesbian.
After her expulsion, Kate travelled the world attempting to battle her depression and repressed trauma. Once she returned to Gotham City, she was almost the victum of a mugging. Thanks to her training, she was able to fend off and quickly dominate the mugger until Batman arrived. Witnessing Batman in person served as an inspiration and created a new sense of purpose within Kate. With her father’s connections, she extensively trained with a group of elite special operations soldiers known as The Murder of Crows while also conducting private missions for her father. After three years, she was given a final test to determine whether she had not only the training but willpower of Batman to not “cross-the-line.” After passing the final test, she returned to Gotham utilizing the alias of Batwoman.
Fictional Abilities & Equipment
Batwoman doesn’t have superhuman abilities, yet she’s highly trained and uses numerous gadgets to accomplish her missions. Most notably her skills include being an expert in over 10 martial arts, mastering interrogative techniques, being an elite parkour athlete with previous gymnastics training, quick reflexes, and expertise with stealth, investigation, and espionage. Due to her training, Kate’s considered to be at the peak of human conditioning for her body type.
Outside of these skills and abilities, Kate uses advanced equipment depending on the mission. Similar to Batman, she uses her own version of Batarangs and grappling technology. Her Batsuit is able to protect her from automated weapon gunfire along with her gloves providing offensive weapons. These include powerful tasers, tranquilizers, and Scarecrow’s fear toxin. Her utility belt can also carry various weapons and tools depending on the situation. She’s been shown to carry a small firearm in her utility belt in certain comics.
If you want to read some Batwoman in the comics, it’s highly recommended to check out her first solo series which ran from 2011 to 2014. She has also featured heavily in Detective Comics, especially the recent relaunch of the series starting with Detective Comics #934. Besides these, a solid storyline is “Elegy” spanning Detective Comics #854 – 863. Outside of comics, be sure to check out her new CW series, which airs on October 6, 2019