With the groundbreaking news that the next CW DC crossover will introduce Batwoman into the Supergirl/Arrowverse, I’ve put together an essential reading list and top facts you should know for those interested in learning more about Gotham’s other Caped Crusader.
- Kathy is not Kate and Kate is not Kathy.
- The original Batwoman was introduced in the 1950s as a love interest for Batman to dispel rumors of homosexuality between Batman and Robin.
- In 2006 Batwoman was reimagined as Kate Kane, a lesbian who is Kathy’s niece by marriage.
- Kate Kane is the foremost LGBTQ character in the DCU, if not all of comics.
- Headlining 2 solo runs, a co-leader in Tynion’s Detective Comics, one of the main characters in DC Bombshells, an animated movie appearance, and supporting roles in the Injustice comics and 52 made Kate a cult favorite.
- She’s ex-military
- Kate was thrown out of West Point Military Academy under the (now overturned) Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that threw out queer soldiers when their sexuality was revealed.
- Her origin is just as tragic as Bruce’s.
- I don’t want to spoil too much but it really is.
“Mary,” you say, “I want to read Batwoman but I don’t know where to start.”
Well, Gentle Reader, allow me to help.
BATWOMAN: AN ESSENTIAL READING LIST
The place to start the weekly series 52 published 2006-2007. Kate’s first appears in 52 #7 as herself and in 52 #11 as Batwoman. Kate is introduced as a former lover of Renee Montoya and appears prominently in Renee’s arc. Starting with 52 gives you a good chance to gauge Kate’s personality and highlight her relationship with Renee, which is highly important to her character.
The easiest format to read this series is in the omnibus, the two-volume deluxe trade set, and digitally on Comixology. (There was an initial 4 trade release but do *not* look for those. They are years out of print and you probably won’t find them.)
A follow up to Kate’s appearance in 52 takes place in the Renee Montoya centric story The Question: The Five Books of Blood. (It’s out of print, but if you poke around you can find it with some ease.)
Batwoman got her first solo outing in 2009 where she headlined Detective Comics from issues 854 to issue 863. It detailed her origin story and her journey to become Batwoman and a few short stories of her in action. This run was collected twice, once in Batwoman: Elegy and again in Batwoman by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III.
Elegy is now out of print and not available digitally, but Batwoman by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III is readily available in print and on Comixology.
After a run in Detective, Batwoman headlined a self-titled 40 issue run in DC’s The New 52 reboot. (There is a bit of controversy surrounding this run, but I’m not getting into that.) The 40 issue series and 2 annuals are collected in 6 volumes.
In the current Rebirth continuity, Batwoman features prominently in, ironically, Detective Comics. These will be the easiest to obtain in collected and single issue format. (There is also a deluxe hardcover that will be easy to find.) She is also one of the main characters in the crossover Night of the Monster Men. Easily found in collected editions. Don’t try to find the singles. It’s not that they’re rare it’s multiple books across 3 different titles. That’s a lot of time spent finding them.
Currently, Batwoman headlines her own Rebirth series. There is currently 1 collected volume and the rest of the series is easily found digitally and in single-issue format.
If you are looking for a more streamlined Batwoman reading list:
Batwoman by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III
Batwoman (The New 52)
Detective Comics (Rebirth)
An extra tidbit that folks will enjoy is Kate’s first non-comic appearance and central role in the DC animated film Batman: Bad Blood.
Kate is an endearing and powerful character that means a lot to a lot of people. She saved my life when I was struggling to accept my sexuality. She has a powerful sense of duty and unshakable courage that speaks to so many, queer or not.
In the words of creator Greg Rucka: “I love everything about the character. But if you pin me down [about a favorite trait] I’d say that for her this was a choice and a duty. This is her service. And I love the honor in that.