Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Whether Kathy Kane was created to shore up a trademark or affirm Batman's heterosexuality, the Silver Age Batwoman was not treated with the greatest respect. Created in the heart of the bloodless Post-Wertham era, Batwoman was just one of the many sour notes struck in trying to make the floundering Batman titles more like the successful Superman ones. All the aliens, mites, and such were discarded when Julie Schwartz took over editorship from Jack Schiff, leaving Batwoman with only a handful of further appearances over a fifteen year span. Popping up in Batman Family may have been her undoing, as it perhaps reminded writer Denny O'Neil she existed, a loose end in his sometimes merciless pursuit of an ever darkening Dark Knight.
Batman was investigating the League of Assassins' interest in the former Batwoman, now touring with a circus. Kathy Kane hadn't missed any steps when confronted with lower level killers, but the appearance of the fearsome Bronze Tiger was something else entirely. As Batman blocked a punch, Tiger followed through with a devastating kick which incapacitated the Caped Crusader in very short order. Batman could only watch in horror as an assassin fatally stabbed Kane. Minutes later, the Dark Knight recovered, following a trail of blood to Batwoman's final clue.
Rarely has Batman ever been so thoroughly helpless, and to further frustrate his fans, the detective failed to best Bronze Tiger in a rematch later in the same issue. Batman wasn't even allowed to defeat Kathy's killer, and in a less than feminist angle, Batwoman's murder was only a small link in a conspiratorial chain. Among the first of many bleak, exploitative turns in latter day DC history.
Check out more highlights from the past 75 years of DC Comics at The Truly Most Memorable Moments of the DC Dodranscentennial