The Best of DC’s New 52: #4, Batwoman

4. Batwoman – J.H Williams III and W. Haden Blackman

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward apperance of things, but their inward significance.”


I love comic books.

Like most kids back in the days before the internet and X-Box, I got a lot of my entertainment from comic books. I would ride my bike down to the corner store and browse that spinner rack full of four-colored worlds, looking for the right one that would transport me into another universe, another realm, another saga. My friends and I would spend lazy summers outside reading comics, drinking root beer, and dreaming.

As I got older my friends moved on to more “adult” hobbies, but I stayed with comics. Through my high school years I would get “nerd” thrown in my face as I walked out of the comic book store with a stack under my arm. Instead of attending keggers, I was writing and drawing my own comics. For my American history final exam, instead of  writing a boring paper, double spaced and bound, I wrote and drew a 12 page comic book – featuring my American history teacher and class. I got an A on it. I got an A in Art class. I wrote a paper on the future of comic book sales for economics. I was the school newspaper’s artist. In my creative writing class I turned in comic book scripts.

Comics have always served me well.

Even now, as the second half of my life begins I still head into the comic shop every Wednesday to pick up those wonderful 22-page escapes into the universes, realms, and sagas that have become like a second home to me. These never-ending stories of good vs. evil will always be there for me. These stories never die. “To Be Continued” forever.

Batwoman’s story started 56 years ago in Detective Comics issue #233. Created by Bob Kane and Sheldon Moldoff, Batwoman/Kathy Kane was introduced into the DC Universe as a love interest for Batman/Bruce Wayne. For some reason people back in the 50’s thought it was weird that a grown man (Bruce) would live with a 13 year old boy (Dick Grayson/Robin). Rumors of homosexuality flew like bat guano. A lot of the shit flinging came from the direction of the book The Seduction of the Innocent. A book that claimed comics were corrupting the youth of America with their depictions of sex and violence and horror. As result of this bullshit witch-hunt the Comics Code Authority was created to “police” the comic book creators and censor art. At any rate, Kathy Kane was here to say “hey look everybody, Batman’s not gay.”

Then in 1964 she, along with Bat-Mite, and Bat-Hound were done away with and removed from the DC Universe. I can see getting rid of Bat-Mite and Hound, but Batwoman? Well the character of Bat-Girl seemed to be more popular with fans so the powers that be at the time figured there was one too many “girls” in the Batman comics. And so, Batwoman faded away into comic book limbo… until a Crisis happened.

In 1985 the DC Universe was a mess. Multiple universes made reading DC comics a fucking nightmare. Who was part of what continuity? How many versions of Superman are there? Where the hell did that old man Flash with the stupid helmet come from? The maxi series Crisis on Infinite Earths sought to solve these problems and clean things up. For the most part it did a pretty good job and things got back on track after 1985. In this new continuity Kathy Kane did exist. Also, they introduced a new female hero called Flamebird. Her name? Bette Kane. Hmmmm.

Cut to 20 years later, it’s 2006 and a new DC crisis looms over the universe. This time Batwoman does return but now is going by the name Kate Kane. Fucking comics man, sometimes I swear…

Anyway, this new Batwoman was brought back into the DC world, this time not as a love interest for Bruce Wayne/Batman, but – and I find this pretty awesomely ironic – as a lesbian. Take that Comic Code Authority!

And that brings us to the present and two guys named J.H Williams III and W. Haden Blackman.

For years J. H Williams III had been turning out some of the most beautiful comic book art ever seen. His panel designs for the Alan Moore comic Promethea border on otherworldly and are truly breathtaking. The dude has been nominated and won countless awards for his art. So naturally people couldn’t wait to see his take on Batwoman.

Back in 2010 Williams and Blackman’s Batwoman comic was set to roll out, but DC kept it on hold until the big New 52 reboot of August 2011. Along with 51 brand new number-one comics, Batwoman hit the stands in September 2011 and was it worth the wait? Well, let me tell you……

Batwoman #1 is why I collect comic books.

I’ve read a SHIT LOAD of comics in my 40 years on this earth – some good, some not so good- and if I had to guess percentages it would go something like this:

20% – Waste of money

40% – Good

30% – Great

10% – Mind blowing

Batwoman #1 falls into the mind blowing 10%.

What J. H Williams III and W. Haden Blackman are doing here on these 22 pages is taking the form of comic books and advancing it to the next level. Creators like these are few and far between – people that have the skill, talent, and foresight to say, “Enough of this shit. Enough of the same old same old” and they use their gifts to bring a sea change to the industry. Batwoman #1 contains a passion and energy that those 22 pages almost can’t contain. This comic buzzes with life and a love for a medium that has seen better days. They have taken a 56 year old character that for most of her existence has been poorly used, and brought her into the 21st century as a force to be reckoned with. And not because she’s a fucking badass ninja fighter – no, Kate Kane is someone that can back up her ideals with humanity and vulnerability – something you rarely see in comic books. She is a true crime-fighter. 
The fact that she is a lesbian only heightens the force that is Kate Kane. Gay men and women represent close to 25% of the American population, but I can count on one hand the number of homosexual superheroes. Why is this? Because for years homosexually never represented “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.” But if you ask me, being gay or lesbian in the world today is all about truth, justice and the fucking American way. It is about time that comic books, which have always been a mirror to our society, start to recognize this. Williams and Blackman’s Batwoman is the most honest and true superhero I have ever read. They have made wading through the 20% of shitty books (Rob Liefeld’s Hawk and Dove I’m looking at you!) worth it.  You stare at the black sky long enough, you’ll see that shooting star. 
This is a true work of art. A masterpiece of pencils and ink that you can pick up for two dollars and 99 cents at your local comic book store. With a story and character that you care about and want to follow on her adventures till the end of time. 
In a world full of flying men, Batwoman stands alone.

3 thoughts on “The Best of DC’s New 52: #4, Batwoman”

  1. Brilliant review dude, I 110% agree with you. This series belongs in an art museum and we get a private version for 2.99$ a month, it’s insane!

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