Batwoman’s story has been a twisted one since her creation in 1956. Introduced as a sort of romantic interest for Batman, her alter ego, Kathy Kane, was named after Batman creator Bob Kane.
Her creation resulted from Batman’s need for a romantic interest.
Though Bruce Wayne had a relationship with Vicki Vale in the comics, Batman’s real interest was, up to 1954, Catwoman. That year, Dr. Fredric Wertham “outted” Batman and Robin as homosexuals in his book, Seduction of the Innocent. A psychiatrist, Wertham launched a campaign against comics in true Joseph McCarthy style, which resulted in congressional hearings and the adoption of the Comic Code Authority. And Catwoman was considered too strong and too bad an influence for Batman—and for comic book audiences.
For the next eight years, she would be a member of a Batman Universe that also included Bat-Mite and, beginning in 1961, Bat-Girl, whose alter ego was Betty Kane. During this time, Batman comic book stories became more science-fiction oriented, in part a trend DC Comics followed, and in part because of the Comic Code.
Unfortunately, Batman comic book sales declined so drastically that editor Julius Schwartz and artist Carmine Infantino were assigned to revamp the title. As a result, Batwoman was no more.
Or was she?
La mujer murciélago, released in early 1968, was a Mexican movie that seemed to cash in on the Batman craze of the mid-1960s. Italian actress Maura Monti starred as a bikini-clad Batwoman who fights a mad scientist intent on creating a super race of men with gills. The film was released in Mexico on March 28, 1968, two weeks after Batman aired its final episode on ABC.
Batwoman did make a couple of brief appearances in the late 1970s in the comics. In 1993, the direct-to-video Mystery of the Batwoman was released, featuring three women as the character: Gotham Police Detective Sonia Alcana, Dr. Roxanne ‘Rocky’ Ballantine, and Kathleen ‘Kathy’ Duquesne (a reference to Kathy Kane).
When Batwoman re-emerged in 2006, her alter ego was Kate Kane, a “lipstick lesbian.” Unlike the 1956 version, created in reaction to the “bad influence” of Catwoman, this version caused controversy because of her sexual orientation.
But times have changed since 1956, and she has become a part of the current comic book scene. Since mid-2009, Batwoman has had a starring role in Detective Comics, the very title that launched Batman 71 years ago. And that includes issue #862, due on Wednesday, March 3.