Imagine you're sitting there watching "The L Word" and as the episode comes to a close, Jennifer Beals slips into a spandex suit and runs off into the night to fight crime. That would be the best comparison to today's most high profile gay comic character, Batwoman.
After last week's introductory article concerning the gay men of the comic universe, today we turn our focus to the ladies. The number of lesbians in the superhero world is few, at best, but one is perhaps the most famous gay character in comics, none other than Kate Kane, Batwoman, herself.
Batwoman was first introduced as a love interest for Bruce Wayne back in the 1950's, but her popularity never really caught on and in the 60s she was thrown to the wayside, and by 1985's "Crisis on Infinite Earths" she was killed altogether. Fast forward to 2006 when some new blood was needed in DC's titles, and jumping at a chance to connect with a modern day audience, DC brings Batwoman back as a lipstick lesbian.
Kate Kane is a firey redhead who fights crime, and even after all the attention she had thrust upon her three years ago when she came out on the comic stands, her time in the spotlight hadn't even arrived yet. It was recently announced that during Batman's absence, Batwoman would take over the "Detective Comics" title for at least a year. With Batman's death (long story, don't ask) currently in the comics, almost all of the characters from Gotham City are coming out of the woodwork, and Batwoman is going to be one of the most prominent players.
Now of course the new Batwoman has been met with her share of controversy and criticisms. Fanboys (and girls) felt the character's resurrection as a lesbian was a blatant attempt on DC's part to capitalize on the growing number of gay readers, and some have even spoken out about the various poses that the heroine is drawn in (though anyone familiar with women in comics knows that salacious poses are nothing new whether the character is gay or not). Kate has a love interest, Renee, who is a masked vigilante herself, but as with most relationships in comics, the word "complicated" doesn't even begin to describe them (next time you bitch about your girlfriend not texting you back, imagine if her excuse was because she was kidnapped by a team of psychotic supervillans).
Batwoman may be one of the few lesbians in mainstream superhero comics, but there are plenty of gay characters, including lesbians, in indie comics these days. We'll get to those in due time, but for next week's installment we'll look at what makes the graphic novel (and as of March 6 motion picture) Watchmen so gay!
-- CHRISTOPHER RUDOLPH
Previously > Super gay superheroes