Batwoman And DC Comics In The Media Spotlight

Thu, June 1st, 2006 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Arune Singh, Staff Writer

Comic book fans were all surprised to hear that DC Comics' next big

announcement wasn't released via standard comic media outlets, but

instead it was announced by the media juggernaut known as "The New York

Times." The Sunday edition of the times featured an extensive article on

DC Comics, in the Arts & Entertainment section, in which DC Comics

current direction was explored. Mention was made of the increased

diversity in the DCU, namely that of the new Hispanic male lead in "Blue

Beetle" and…a lesbian Batwoman?

While comic fans have debated the merits of this new Batwoman, named

Kate Kane, a Gotham City socialite (named in honor of the Silver Age

Batwoman, Kathy Kane, who came to life in 1956 and died in 1979), and if

her relationship with girlfriend Renee Montoya (a popular Gotham City

Police Officer) was for shock value or an attempt at appealing to a

different audience, something strange happened: the major news outlets

took notice.

It's important to note that Kate Kane is for all intents and purposes an

all-new character in the DC Universe, even with her soon to be revealed

connections to the Batman mythos. The character isn't "turning lesbian"

as some news outlets have inferred, but is instead being created from

scratch with those traits existing from point of character conception.

But the attention being lauded upon this Batwoman, from NPR discussions

to the television program "The View" including Batwoman in their "Hot

Topics," is the kind reserved for events like the "Death Of Superman"

storyline. Author Judd Winick's storyline in "Green Lantern," featuring

then-GL Kyle's friend coming out to him, garnered attention in some

papers and on the late night cable talk shows, but this Batwoman story

has seen a much more diverse, and in depth, mainstream discussion. Even

Marvel Comics' "Rawhide Kid" series never saw this much attention from

the big press outlets.

There are also stark differences in the discussions on ABC's "The View" and

"New York Daily News," versus the way the topic is being discussed among

comic book fans. The mainstream news outlets see this new Batwoman as

symbolizing something never before seen in comics (a "big" gay

character) and new thematic ground (homosexuality discussed openly), but

also tend to feature very polarizing discussions. By comparison, though

many comic book fans are liberals, there's a far more nuanced discussion

among comic book fans. Fans have discussed everything from how DC is

marketing the character to how sexuality should be handled in comics, as

they're well versed in how the comic book industry has been tackling

homosexuality for decades. There was the outing of Marvel Comics'

Northstar, the way the entire X-Men mythos has been seen as a metaphor

for minority groups such as homosexuals (even more apparent in the

recent films), and gay and lesbian relationships have been explored in

many independently produced comics, as well as in comic published by DC

Comics' mature readers imprint, Vertigo.

All this press provides DC Comics not only with a lot of press for their

weekly series "52" and their entire comic book line, but a unique

opportunity to show the nuances of the current comic book industry. The

company has an historic opportunity to really explore homosexuality in

the media spotlight and really show how the medium has grown since most

people read their last "Archie" comic book. While no one wants the new

Batwoman reduced to a simple stereotype or for writers to get on their

soapbox, this character (and possible "Batwoman" series) could greatly

help legitimize the comic book medium in the eyes of many non-readers.

Stay tuned to CBR News for more on this developing story.

For those keeping score at home, Kate debuts in "52" #11 and CBR News features a weekly "52" review/discussion column. You can also join the discussion on CBR's Batman Forum.

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