The 52 Steps: Week Forty-Seven

Sat, March 31st, 2007 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Justin Eger, Guest Contributor

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"Out here, there are no sides." - Yellow Alien Number Two

"52" Week Forty-Seven
Week Forty-Seven

Previously in 52...
Black Adam was captured by the inhabitants of Oolong Island, Lex Luthor was captured by Steel and Clark Kent and the JSA got an old member back to help them deal with Black Adam.

This Week's Key Players
Animal Man, John Henry Irons and renee Montoya. Though not present, Black Adam is tortured off-panel.

Guest Appearances
Will Magnus and his robotic friends, Bruce Wayne, Tim Drake, Princess Diana, Nightwing, Natasha Iron, Beast Boy, Rama Kushna, a host of Intergang baddies and, yes, Buddy Baker's friendly yellow aliens.

Highlights
Forgive me for jumping around a bit, but it was a busy week.

Out on Oolong Island, the bad, mad and fun to know scientists of the DCU were having a bit of fun torturing Black Adam off-panel, though the whole of the island could hear his screams, including a tormented Will Magnus and his two little buddies, Tin and Mercury. However, amidst the general screaming, the three debated turning on what I can only assume is the Plutonium robot.

In deep space, Buddy Baker tapped into the power of the Sun eaters, only to be lifted out of continuity for a moment by his yellow alien benefactors. While out of time and space, the aliens showed Animal Man a brief glimpse into the future, specifically one month from now, when his wife meets with a mysterious man who encourages her to move on with her life and put her grief behind her. Reinserted into his story, Buddy cries out for her, fully intent on getting home as fast as possible.

Closer to home, but still pretty far away, Bruce Wayne has come to Nanda Parbat to lock himself into a cave for seven days, the idea being a ritual of spiritual purification. Joining him is Tim Drake, who saw enough darkness of his own. However, Tim isn't going into the cave. Rather, he's spending time outside contemplating the question posed to him by a monk, a question that reminds him things aren't always how they first appear to be. Meanwhile, Bruce completes his meditations and exit's the cave at the end of the week.

There's also another visitor in Nanda Parbat, as Diana, formerly Wonder Woman, has journeyed to the city to seek her own spiritual purification after being forced to kill during the Crisis. Seeking answers, Rama Kushna offers not the simplest words, but challenges Diana to see that she's now not above the people of the world, as she once might have been. Rather, through all her suffering, her guilt and her confusion, she's become one of those same people she came to teach, and, really how better to teach to someone than by walking in their shoes?

Next stop, Metropolis, where Natasha and John Henry Irons start putting together plans for their new team while Natasha declines membership in the Teen Titans and John gets his groove on with Kala, his new favorite doctor. All this under the banner of the "Steelworks," the newest name for John and Natasha's business.

Finally, we'll drop by the most benighted city of all, Gotham, where the leaders of Intergang have deduced who Batwoman might be, seeking the daughter of Cain to complete their sacrificial rite for the Religion of Crime. Later in the week, Renee Montoya returns to Gotham and to Kate Kane's penthouse, only to find the place ransacked and Kate missing. Arriving on scene, Nightwing promises Renee that they'll find Kate.

Back-up Feature
The Origin of The Teen Titans, with Mark Waid and Karl Kerschl.

Justin's Thoughts and Concerns

  • Whew. That's a busy week. Dang.

  • Is the way that Gar is looking at Natasha after she leaves a little creepy to you, too?

  • And if Gar is still on the Titans right now, that's not a lot of time for him to go and get cozy with the Doom patrol before the year ends.

  • Geese, bottles, all too much mojo this week for me. Remind me never to hang in Nanda Parbat for too long.

  • The idea of a Religion of Crime still stuns me. This has to be one of the better developments from the missing year, and I hope someone picks it up following the close of our dear series.

  • So, who's taking bets on the creepy guy Ellen is with? Buddy, Booster, Adam or Ralph?

  • Don't you think they should have got George Perez to handle the origin feature this week? I love Kerschl, but, really, where's George?

Crisis Continuity With Brian Eason
The subject of this week's Crisis Continuity required (what we call here in the South) some studyin'. This issue had no central focus and seemed to be a setup shot for upcoming issues. I've already covered Animal Man and the Metal Men; Wonder Woman and Robin are so iconic that would require a series of articles, and Steel and Natasha don't have the breadth of history which generally requires the kind of context my contribution provides. So that left me with Renee Montoya and someone that didn't actually appear in the issue, Batwoman. Since the cover of the next issue features Renee as the new Question, by process of elimination, the long overdue examination of Batwoman and her antecedents became the de facto choice. With that caveat in place, we examine the "twice-named daughter of Cain."

In July of 1956, on the cusp of the Silver Age, in "Detective Comics" #233, Kathy "Batwoman" Kane made her debut. Batwoman was the brainchild of Batman co-creator Bob Kane and his ghost artist at the time, Sheldon Moldoff. Batwoman was the first heroine to emulate a major superhero in DC Comics, predating Supergirl by three years. Batwoman wore a black (later red) and yellow costume, mask and cape; instead of a utility belt, she carried a utility purse. Despite the obvious chauvinism of the period, Batwoman managed to be a hero in her own right and rose above the clutter of extraneous Bat-characters that appeared in the Batman titles (Bat-Mite and Ace the Bat-Hound predominant among them).

Kathy was heir to a great fortune and a former circus performer and daredevil (sort of Batman and Robin rolled into one). She idolized the Batman and modeled herself after him, noting that "no other man has ever rivaled Batman as a champion of the law, nor matched his superb acrobatic skill, his scientific keenness, his mastery of disguise, and detective skill!" Batwoman had her own Batcave and a red Batcycle and her own unique variety of Bat-weapons, just like her idol. Batwoman's arsenal included charm-bracelet handcuffs, a makeup compact that contained sneezing power, tear-gas lipstick, and (God help us all) a giant hairnet that she used to, well, net the bad-guys. Batwoman even had a sidekick, her niece Betty Kane, who became the Bat-Girl (6 years before Barbara Gordon donned the cowl).

Batman finally managed to deduce Kathy's identity due to her overuse of circus terminology and phraseology. While Kathy decided to retire after her first adventure, the Batwoman would continue to appear in the Bat-titles until 1964, when Bat-editor Julius Shwartz decided to clean up the "silliness" from the series and restore Batman's uniqueness.

In the late 1970s, Batwoman returned as a circus owner. She was killed by the Bronze Tiger (of Suicide Squad fame), who had been brainwashed by the League of Assassins. Her death was chronicled in "Detective Comics" #485 (1979). It was later established that there was a Batwoman of Earth-2 who retired when the Earth-2 Batman married Catwoman and came out of retirement with the death of Police Commissioner Bruce Wayne in "Adventure Comics" #462, (1979).

After the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" miniseries, Kathy Kane, while extant, is not (and never was) the Batwoman. Her niece Betty, however, does enjoy an unremarkable career as Flamebird.

The new Batwoman made her first appearance in issue #9 of "52" and was featured on the cover of issue #11.
In the "Kingdom" miniseries (1999) that followed "Kingdom Come," it was established that the restaurant "Planet Krypton" is haunted by "hypertime ghosts." These ghosts were characters who had been removed from DC continuity, and among them is Kathy Kane.

Kate Kane, our new Batwoman (and former lover of Renee Montoya) appeared in "52" #9 (2006) and, if you have been following this series, you know that she too is a wealthy Gothamite that has emulated the Dark Knight. We haven't seen Kate in the OYL continuity, but she was mentioned by the Penguin in "Detective Comics" #824 as "kind of hot."

The new Batwoman's sexual orientation (described as a "lipstick lesbian" by Dan Didio) attracted considerable media attention in early 2006. An ongoing series was promised by DC, but no publication date has been announced.

Next week: Renee Montoya

Looking Ahead
The end is near, gang, and there's a lot of loose ends that need tying up, but honestly, I wouldn't even know where to begin.

Like I said, we haven't seen how Gar gets to the Doom Patrol yet, but we know he ends up there. Also, thanks to astute reader Lalo Martins, we know that the battle with Lady Styx won't be wrapped up nicely, either, since she's the main villainess in the "Omega Men" mini-series that just wrapped up (check your back issues or wait for the trade like me).

Also, we've got final confirmation on a new "Infinity, Inc." series, with a brief-though-mysterious interview with writer Peter Milligan right here at CBR. Check it out.

Panel of the Week

I hope she's up to the answers she's likely to find.

Archives
Week Forty-Six
Week Forty-Five
Week Forty-Four
Week Forty-Three
Week Forty-Two
Week Forty-One
Week Forty
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Week Thirty-Five
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