Monday, May 29, 2006

Batwoman Beyond

Image from Infinite Crisis 7, Hosted by ImageShack.usSo. It's in the New York Times, so it must be true. Batwoman, as you kids say, is teh gay. A "lipstick lesbian", they call her, meaning she's not one of Those Butch Women, I guess. Meaning they don't have to draw her any differently than any other female character.

Kate (nee Kathy, presumably short for Katherine) Kane. (Not "DuQuesne", one of the animated Batman's really clever moves). Not to be confused with near-lookalike Kate Spencer, Manhunter. (Wouldn't it be interesting if they were the same person? Is it a coincidence that Manhunter is being cancelled about the same time as the new Batwoman makes her first official appearance?)

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usNewsarama is all over the story. In an interview, Dan Didio says:
Her sexuality is not the main thrust of the character; it’s just another aspect of her personality, one that helps her to determine her choices that she makes as she’s fighting crime in Gotham City.
To which Newsarama asks this, which is never really answered:
When you flip that, it doesn’t really apply to say, Batman. You can’t say, “Because he’s heterosexual, Batman’s adventures are thus and so.”
Well, that's not really fair to say. For well over fifty years, the default comic book point of view was heterosexual male. The primary role of the women in their lives was to be suspicious that they never see Clark and Superman together. It may be significant that not long after the introduction of "the spectacular character find of 1956", the first Batwoman, she was being made jealous by a cardboard cutout of Bruce kissing another woman. (Of course, had she not stormed off in a huff, she would have observed that Bruce had been transformed into Bat-Baby, about which the less said the better.)

And for a decade or two, Batman's heterosexuality was an issue in the comics, if only because DC felt it necessary to disprove Frederic Wertham's contention that Bruce and Dick's relationship was a "gay man's fantasy". Not that they ever really did disprove it. From Julie Madison to Selina Kyle to Vicki Vale to Kathy Kane to Talia al Ghul to Silver St. Cloud, there always seemed to be a darned good reason why Bruce Wayne couldn't or wouldn't Love A Woman As She Deserved To Be Loved. He always seems to choose to surround himself with unattainable women, no mean feat for one of the richest men in the DC universe.

Hey, Didio? You want to impress me with how courageous your storytellers are? Make "Kate" Kane straight and have Bruce Wayne come out of the closet. That might explain once and for all why Dick Grayson and Koriand'r couldn't make it work. There's an idea: A "new" character revelation that actually answers as many questions as it creates.

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