Thursday, July 15, 2010

Batwoman is a big fat lesbian

I recently received a beautiful hardcover deluxe edition of Batwoman Elegy published by DC Comics. It tells the backstory of Kate Kane, our ultra fit heroine who knows how to use firearms, martial arts, and some highly classified gizmos of modern warfare (liquid armor!) And, to no one's surprise, it turns out that Batwoman is a dyke. The story is that she got kicked out of West Point despite being tops in her class because she refused to break the cadet honor code, which would have required her to lie about her sexuality. She also suffered a childhood trauma. So our big girl has loads of dyke drama and needs a gentle hand. You know, butch on the streets...
Batwoman Elegy is impressive because it's visually stunning and because it's, well, GAY. But I admit I'm not knowledgeable about comics. I was a jock in my formative years, with a dash of punk thrown in, and I've only recently gotten in touch with my nerdy side. Before this Batwoman book, the only comics I'd read were Alison Bechdel's Dykes to Watch Out For and her brilliant graphic novel, Fun Home. As a kid I loved the Super Friends and the Hall of Justice and all that, but my favorite superhero was Aquaman, who, I am now told, is lame. So I'm not the best person to critique Batwoman Elegy. But I can tell you that I loved it, and I can tell you that Rachel Maddow, the queen nerd herself (I mean that as a sexy compliment), wrote the breathless introduction. She cannot contain her enthusiasm. Honor and integrity, Maddow says, "is the moral spine on which Kate Kane's battered frame is hung." She describes Batwoman as "brave and surly and hurt and strong." And she says, "What you won't be able to shake when you're done here is that damn compelling lead character."

What's also kind of cool about Katherine Rebecca Kane is that she is apparently not only a lesbian but a Jewish lesbian. A menorah is deliberately displayed several times in her condo and there was a passing mention of the high holidays. I asked a friend about this, and she says that many of the original creators of the Superheros were Jewish and that after World War II there was an effort to present Jews as heroes, rather than victims. She said this new re-write which casts Batwoman as Jewish is possibly paying homage to the original creators. Another reason to love the new Batwoman.

1 comment:

D said...

Hot, nerdy friend you've got there.