There are two reasons that I kept going with Batwoman:
- I adored the gothic artwork that Williams the Third threw into our faces and collective psyches.
- I was happy that we would finally see a positive portrayal of a lesbian in a mature, considerate relationship.
Unfortunately, as the series has progressed, I have started to hear a small voice of disapproval in my soul. When I picked up Batwoman #9 last week, I promptly threw it at the wall in frustration.
All of the arts
Let’s be fair – when Jay Haich Williams Teh Third decided to stick Amy Reeder on as artist, I was a little bit hesitant. But I was surprised with the good fit. In issue #0, Reeder complimented Williams’ ethereal designs with a bold reality of Kate Kane’s everyday life – a young woman who works hard, socialises more, and has a fierce sense of morality. contributed some brilliant interiors and her covers on #7 and #8 had an immersive feel without being alienating – an aesthetic that was necessary for a character-centric arc. It also supported the style of the original arc in Detective Comics – if anything, it provided a more solid foundation compared to Williams’ original work.
Of course I will still consider Williams the master. I’d be a fool not to.
But for whatever reason, Reeder was booted and McCarthy was thrown in. DC pleaded with us to allow him half a chance before he faced the firing line, and I agree that he is a good understudy for Williams. But he will not give me the same sense of stability that Reeder did in the series. McCarthy doesn’t feel like he brings anything additional to Batwoman, whereas I felt as if Reeder was contributing work that took the story to a much higher level. And, for some I liked having a woman in that team, DC. I don’t know why, I can’t explain it logically, but I just did.
No, wait. I can explain it.
The “Bella”nisation of Kate Kane.
Kate Kane came out as a proud lesbian in 2009. I remember, because it was the first comic that my partner picked up. She wanted something that spoke to the culture that she and I were facing – a world that still feels divided on LGBTQI issues, and that will most likely continue to debate the impact of this culture for the better part of our lives. William teh Thrice presented us with a caped crusader with a sense of morality, but with universal vulnerabilities – faced with a threat to personal safety and, in turn, her own perceptions of where her strengths lie. Her gender and sexual identity was played out in a minor narrative, and its conclusion supported the main virtues that resonated through the saga: anyone can believe in truth and honour and integrity. Forced out of a military career, Kate Kane took up a separate uniform and simply continued to fight – she felt as if she had no other choice because backing away would be detrimental to her ideals.
The “Elegy” storyline in Detective Comics dealt with Kate’s identity with grace. The first storyline of the Batwoman franchise, “Hydrology”, started to delve more into her personal and romantic identity, but through events that built on her own personal characteristics – confidence and integrity in her interactions with others. Sure, she was occasionally flippant, but not in a way that was contradictory to her character development.
“To Drown the World” is starting to right royally annoy me with its grandiose simplification of Kate’s identity as a lesbian, and with actions that compromise her ideals and, in some cases, good common sense. Williams has endeavoured to create a realistic relationship between Kate and Maggie, but I feel this is unnecessarily undermined in #9. Sune isn’t an interesting character. Where Kate has been built as an eclectic character with some alternative tastes but a classical notion of loyalty to home and country, Sune only has the asset of mystery, and it isn’t a mystery that I am particularly interested in solving. Her interactions with Kate are riddled with innuendo and flirtation, and Kate’s response to this at the end of the issue is disgustingly unclear. It reeks of a reversal of her ethics, and almost belittles Kate to nothing more than “lesbian candy”. It undermines the portrayal of a healthy, positive lesbian relationship in comics – something that Williams started to create quite naturally, but either “got bored” or wanted to position one of our more prominent lesbian characters as yet another “player”.
I am dreading issue #10. I really am.