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Batwoman

DC’s “Who’s Who” entry for the original Batwoman states that Kathy Kane was originally a stunt-cyclist and trapeze artist who had idolized Batman. After receiving an inheritance, Kane initiated her dream of becoming a superhero, and adopted the guise of Batwoman. Her newfound wealth allowed her to build a mansion, replete with her own secret crime lab à la the Batcave, only Kane’s occupied an abandoned mine tunnel. Her mode of transportation was a motorcycle she’d built herself (showing a little butch aspect to the heterosexual version?).

While skilled at fighting, she often teamed up with a partner to compensate for her lack of talent as a sleuth. Batwoman found herself in the company of Batman, Robin, and her own niece Betty, the original Bat-Girl.

Long time fans of Batwoman will note there were Earth-One and Earth-Two versions; the latter having gone into retirement. On Earth-One, Kane retired for a while, but she found the non-costumed life boring despite having become a circus owner. She returned to the spandex life and teamed up several times with Batgirl (Barbara Gordon). Kane met a grisly and untimely end when a brainwashed Bronze Tiger murdered her in Detective #485.

Post Infinite Crisis, a new Kathy Kane emerges. This new version goes by the name Kate, not Kathy, and like her predecessor, is a socialite though this time her wealth comes from the family company (Hamilton Rifles) and real estate investments. She also has had a romantic relationship with Reneé Montoya. It’s through Reneé in 52 #7 that readers are introduced to Kate.

Montoya’s life has hit bottom. Her partner Crispus Allen was murdered. She began drinking excessively and picking fights, which led her girlfriend Daria Hernandez to leave. For reasons known only to him (and the writers and editors), The Question hires her to solve a mystery.

Early in the case, Reneé links the crime scene at an abandoned building to Kate, and screws up the courage to show up unannounced at gala being held at the Kane mansion. Kate meets Reneé in a quite study though their conversation quickly becomes volatile from unresolved relationship issues. In the end, Kate agrees to help her.

Batwoman makes her first appearance in the last panel of 52 #9. She’s perched on a rooftop ledge spying on Reneé and the Question talking late at night in an alley. In #11 Kate meets Reneé and Charlie in a park so she can tell them information she has learned about the building where the pair were assaulted. The women begin arguing after Reneé inquires about the woman in Kate’s car. Kate wants to know what Reneé is involved in; Reneé cuts her off. Charlie and Reneé run into trouble following another lead in their investigation. Whisper A’Daire orders her bodyguards (who transform into wild animals) to kill them. Things look bad until

Batwoman appears on the scene. During the fight, Reneé figures out it’s Kate in the costume. Batwoman then disappears into the night.Batwoman next appears in #28. Reneé and Charlie have learned about a book considered holy, the Book of Crime, by Intergang. Reneé has sought Batwoman because she thinks the book contains an image of her (Kate) meeting a grisly fate. Later in the story Batwoman attacks several Intergang henchmen inside a church. The fight is going in her favor till Boss Mannheim stuns her with a ray gun of sorts. It looks as if the prophecy will come true till Reneé and Charlie show and Boss Mannheim runs off, leaving the trio to catch their collective breath.

Kate has persuaded Reneé to move Charlie and herself into Kate’s penthouse in between issues #28 and #30. Kate is paying for medical care for Charlie, who is dying of cancer. Feelings between the two women seem to have softened off panel since their last appearance together. Batwoman runs into more of Mannheim’s were-creatures on patrol. Nightwing appears from the shadows to lend her a hand. They agree to work together and search different parts of Gotham starting the following night.

When next they meet atop a building roof (issue #33) she’s presented with a Christmas gift: an authentic batarang. Back at the penthouse, Reneé is distraught over Charlie’s worsening condition. Kate tries to console her and they kiss. We also learn that Kate is Jewish because of a menorah displayed on a table.

Kate is seen only briefly in issue #34 when Charlie is transferred to a hospital. She tries to persuade Reneé not to leave on a fool’s journey to Nanda Parbat in the hopes of saving Charlie, saying, “I just got you back in my life, I don’t want you walking out again!” (issue #36). She doesn’t succeed.Montoya returns to Gotham City, now having assumed the mantle of the Question, to find Kate’s penthouse a complete shambles (issue #47). Nightwing extends his offer to help find Kane.

Issue #48 opens with Montoya and Nightwing fighting it out with Intergang and trying to learn the whereabouts of Kate. It seems to Mannheim and A’ Daire that the time is close at hand to both destroy Gotham by turning it into a fire pit à la Apokolips and to sacrifice Kane and fulfill the Crime Bible’s prophecy. Nightwing decides the only way to save both the city and Kane is for them to split up.

Thanks to an Intergang member they’d captured, Montoya heads off to an abandoned cathedral, where she finds Kate (dressed as Batwoman) bound and gagged on an altar and at Mannheim’s mercy. Montoya throws herself against the bestiamorph creatures guarding the ritual and almost loses her own life, only to witness

Mannheim plunge a dagger into Kate’s chest. She shoots Mannheim, hitting him in the temple and knocking him momentarily unconscious. Montoya rushes to Kate’s side, only to be picked up and thrown about by a desperate Mannheim. Summoning courage and strength, Kane pulls the knife from her chest and manages enough force to plunge it into Mannheim, killing him. The scene closes with Montoya pleading that Kathy not die while the church burns, leaving the impression that Kate dies.

The closing scene of #52 shows Kate recovering in her penthouse. She’s talking with a woman named Mallory. Judging by the conversation, she appears to be either a doctor or a police detective. She’s very curious about the “pseudo-skin bandage” (the same artificial skin that covers the Question’s face) that covered her chest wound when brought into the ER. The very last page show Montoya shining the Bat signal into Kate’s penthouse. Where these two characters appear next remains to be seen.

Batwoman appears in a short story in DCU Infinite Holiday Special. She busts up a ring of thieves dressed as Santa Claus and finds a family treasure belonging to an older woman she knows.

So far the Batwoman of the DCnU/ 52 relaunch appears to have all of her previous history in contact. We know she dated Montoya, however, whether Montoya is alive or dead or if she ever transformed into the Question is unknown. Kate has had a falling out with her father over a revelation that came to light during her fight with Black Alice, and she has taken cousin Bette under her wing to re-train and remold. Kate misdirects her anger at her father toward Bette, which will have terrible consequences. In private life, Kate and GCPD’s Maggie Sawyer are dating, and Kate later proposes to Maggie.

The Silver Age version which  debuted in Detective #233 drove a customized motorcycle. Her should bag/utility case contained sneezing powder puffs, tear gas perfume, an expandable, high-tensile hair net, smoke bomb lipstick, and a periscope lipstick case. The shoulder bag’s straps doubled as bolas, and her bracelets worked as handcuffs. The contemporary version lacks all of these gimmicks. For now she has an authentic batarang and a bat-rope knock off. She seems to have increased her strength and fighting skills before putting on the costume.

This character caused a major controversy for some fans after the New York Times interviewed Dan DiDio. Some felt that the character’s changes were forced in a blatant attempt to establish more diversity in the DCU. Others were angry over a formerly straight character being made into a lesbian. Others noted the practice of artists drawing her in very objectified poses.

This version of Batwoman first appeared and was confirmed as a lesbian in 52 #7.

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