May 31, 2006

"Unless she has lesbian superpowers ... it really doesn't change her character..."

Are you yawning over the news that Batwoman is a lesbian?

36 comments:

TWM said...

So many jokes, so little time.

It will change her character though, in that they will probably throw her sexuality into the story more often. One can't be a famous lesbian without championing the "cause," you know.

Dave said...

I assume she is more of the lipstick, rather than butch, lesbian, and, therefore, probably appeals to comic books' (mostly) male and adolescent audience.

Al Maviva said...

I was hoping she'd turn out to be a pre-operative female-to-male transexual with a thing for dunking crucifixes in urine and throwing blood on Catholic priests and going on anti-Bush rants. Because it would be so brave and courageous and transgressive of social norms and outrageous and cutting edge, and all about speaking truth to power in our incredibly repressive, dark, fascistic and Orwellian age. She should be a big Dave Matthews fan too. Maybe she and Dave could fight crime together, and the first supervillain they bring down could be some huge defense contractor. And I know it's a little off point but they should make Superman really gay while they're at it. He and Robin could set up house when Bruce Wayne keeps claiming he's interested in women. Whassat? Oh, yeah, right. Sorry. Too late. Superman already is really gay...

Dave said...

"She should be a big Dave Matthews fan too."

Funny thing is, I've met a number of pro-Bush DMB fans.

Al Maviva said...

Yeah, some Republicans listen to DMB, and I used to know a powerful executive who paid women to beat him. I couldn't understand that either. It takes all types, Dave.

FWIW, I thought about making her a huge Melissa Etheridge fan, but that just wouldn't be believable. I actually like DMB, but his politics - and the idea that because he plays the piano he has some unique insight on policy matters - kinda makes me laugh.

Tibore said...

Professor,

Agreed. *Yawn*.

Sloanasaurus said...

Bat Woman is really about 80% sex appeal. COnsider the latex outfit and black polished armor - how much closer to S&M can you get without admitting to S&M.

If she becomes a lesbian, all that goes away. How dissappointing.

Dave said...

"how much closer to S&M can you get without admitting to S&M"

Isn't that true of most comic book characters?

Seems to me they all have tight-fitting outfits--Superman, Batman, Catwoman, She-ra, various and sundry x-men characters, etc.

And don't forget Spiderman.

alkali said...

This development extends the storyline of a very good Batman-related comic book series called "Gotham Central." Gotham Central retells the Batman story as if it were "NYPD Blue," i.e., from the point of view of an urban police department. The shift in POV is interesting because it actually makes the Batman character -- who only turns up occasionally -- that much more mysterious and frightening to police officers who are just trying to do their jobs.

The particular Gotham Central storyline that this relates to is collected in a trade paperback called Half A Life. The story focuses on a closeted lesbian police officer who is working on a case involving the former DA turned psychopathic villain Harvey Dent, or "Two Face." It's very well done.

Robert R. said...

Honestly, that's a tame outfit by comic book standards. Even Batman variant characters like The Huntress show a lot more skin. It's a red and black Batman costume on a woman. Really, the Batgirl costume in Batman and Robin was a lot more fetishistic. Compared to Wonder Woman that's tame.

The lesbian angle is kinda sorta new. But even that's not breaking new ground at this point. And Kathy Kane is an obscure character. She appeared in a couple dozen stories between 1956 and 1964 and then pretty much was forgotten about except for reprints until the late 70s. See

http://www.comics.org/search.lasso?query=batwoman&type=character&sort=chrono&Submit=Search

Still, what's going on is that DC comics is making a conscious decision to diversify their heroes. Just like other media tend to have diverse casts on their shows. Batwoman is just a higher profile name to the general public than Firestorm or The Atom.

MadisonMan said...

Jean-Paul Beaubien (Northstar) was outed in the Marvel universe a decade ago. DC is behind the times.

I haven't read comic books in a decade. I wonder if Northstar and Aurora are even still around?

Timothy K. Morris said...

"We want to look at the world around us and strike a more contemporary tone,"

So, in contemporary terms confident, competent, powerful women are lesbians?

Ron said...

Will she only solve crimes at Pottery Barn now?

Robert R. said...

The only reason this is news is because of the "Bat" in the name.

There are dozens of superheroines and strong, lead female characters in comic books. And none of it draws any interest. Toss in a lesbian in a Batman costume and suddenly DC gets semi-major coverage and we're talking about it on a blog. It's a marketing coup.

Bissage said...

Well, everyone posting here seems pretty used to this sort of thing.

Me? I'm all gigiddy at the thought of a "buxom 5-foot-10 lesbian socialite" in a shiny black catsuit with flaming red accessories.

What could make such an exciting woman even better? Thighs of Death!

SteveR said...

Well I always preferred the implied, but uncertain nature of Xena and Gabrielle, and of course Batman and Robin.

My first reaction was to confuse the concept with a movie I saw several years ago.

Dawn said...

Will she gradually assume a pear-shaped body, dress in teeshirts from Womyn's music events and wear Birkenstocks?

Just wondering.

sonicfrog said...

Yeah, I like the Xena and Gabrielle thing too, where the possibility of a relationship is neither confirmed or denied. That mystery added to the appeal of the show. Look at Ellen DeGeneres's sitcom. It was a lot better preceding the "puppy" episode. After, it got too subject specific and hard for even many gays to relate to. Do I want to compare it to the pleasure buildup during a romp with a really hot one-nighter, only to realize after that that was one of the most boring "dates" you have ever had, and now, after one night, this person wants to be your boy / girlfriend. OK, that never happened to me either. I was just thinking...

PS. Blanket Statement: All gay men and women know the name of the over hyped “puppy” episode :-)

Elizabeth said...

I read Gotham Central, so I like seeing the tie-in with Renee Montoya. For some of us, it's just cool having another gay character. It doesn't mean any of the lurid crap some here are enjoying tossing around. Relax, 90 percent of the world and probably 99 percent of fictional characters are still fully functioning heterosexuals. So it's a yawn for some, and for others, a bit of fun. Comic book heroes don't look like real people, but it's still cool to see a bit of diversity, however contrived it is.

XWL said...

If the writers wanted to add a layer of tension they could make her 'alter-ego' someone who is covering(link back to the Profs review of a book on that subject) as straight while her Batwoman character is fully unleashed as her own lesbian self (Kenji Yoshino could even be her karate expert sidekick by night, and her equally gay, but closeted 'beard' by day, that wouldn't be the least bit offensive, right?).

Then the series becomes both about superheroness and closetedness (and most superheros with 'secret identities' read as closeted in one way or another, anyway).

But this does seem like just a silly little attention getting exercise mixed with PC nonsense.

Balfegor said...

Then the series becomes both about superheroness and closetedness (and most superheros with 'secret identities' read as closeted in one way or another, anyway).

After Ian McKellan spent the past few X-men movies plugging the analogy between mutant superheros and gay people, I'm not sure how much more ground remains to be broken on this theme. It's pretty well entered the mainstream of comics nerd discourse, hasn't it?

Pastor_Jeff said...

So what would lesbian superpowers be?

Elizabeth said...

Jeff,

I'm dedicating my life to researching that very question.

Robert R. said...

Chances are, if a power has been thought of, it's out there, no matter how wild.

I've seen this story elsewhere along with the Chinese superhero team that DC is creating. There's one set of powers for "Mother of Champions" that I never thought anyone would come up with. I'll let others have the joy of discovery.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Elizabeth,

LOL!

Pogo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pogo said...

Given the majority audience for this stuff, and coupled with the near-pedophilic nature of Mangas about teenage girls, the eeeeuuuww factor of the comics aisle at Barnes & Noble or Borders has reached a new nadir.

Balfegor said...

Re: Pogo

Given the majority audience for this stuff, and coupled with the near-pedophilic nature of Mangas about teenage girls, the eeeeuuuww factor of the comics aisle at Barnes & Noble or Borders has reached a new nadir.

Ho ho. You've seen nothing yet. Lesbianism has been a staple of girls comics in Japan since at least the late 70's. The 70's series Rose of Versailles (Berusai no Bara, also a TV series and a Takarazuka stage show, and a bunch of other things) has a pretty heavy lesbian them running through. The more recent Revolutionary Girl Utena (Shoujo Kakumei Utena -- also a TV series, and also a Takarazuka show, with an epaulets-and-rapiers aesthetic that's basically the same as Rose) includes not only lesbians galore (incl. the main character), but also incest everywhere you look. And a lot of mild male homoeroticism. And pedophiles. And rape.

And this is to say nothing of the extensive "Boys Love" genre which will surely arrive over here within the next few years, if it hasn't already. It's pretty much all young male homosexual romances, but the target audience is, of course, young girls. Or women more generally. BL comes not only in comics, but also in radio-drama CD's! I think there are even a few East Asian soap operas with a BL approach. Brokeback Mountain is only the tip of the potential iceberg here: it's only a matter of time before American filmmakers realise they have a substantial and largely underserved potential domestic and international audience for gay romance with young, handsome male actors, if they're only willing to exploit it.

Anyhow, to backtrack a bit, both Utena and Rose of Versailles are probably available in the US. I was kind of surprised at Utena -- I have no idea how they got around their marketing it to little girls, when the incest, pedophilia, and lesbianism came to the fore -- but well, they are selling it. It's a fun, well-constructed series, and I enjoyed it, but I have no idea how they managed to get that into the market without massive protests from parents, appalled at what their young children ended up exposed to. Maybe they included warning labels.

Steven A. Stehling said...

I think it's wrong to drastically change a character. If you want a lesbian superhero, create a new character. If you want a lesbian Batwoman, create a new Batwoman. It was done with Batman. Bruce Wayne hasn't been the only Batman. Why can't they have Kathy Kane take on a sidekick, that happens to be a lesbian, that she molds into the new Batwoman?

Am I the only one that cares about character continuity and respecting canon?

ATMX said...

After Ian McKellan spent the past few X-men movies plugging the analogy between mutant superheros and gay people, I'm not sure how much more ground remains to be broken on this theme. It's pretty well entered the mainstream of comics nerd discourse, hasn't it?

So does that mean that there are a large group of gay supremacists out to kill straight people? Because it seems to me his Magneto character leans in a supremacist direction.

Balfegor said...

Re: amtx
So does that mean that there are a large group of gay supremacists out to kill straight people? Because it seems to me his Magneto character leans in a supremacist direction.

I do not think the parallel is intended to be exact. After all, gay men do not, in general, possess amazing superpowers merely by virtue of their being homosexual.

Re: Stehling:
Am I the only one that cares about character continuity and respecting canon?

Pretty much. Didn't they have some protracted series of comics in the 80s or so, tying together a whole bunch of multiverses in a futile attempt to make some sense of characters' contradictory backstories, e.g. as they kept getting reborn later and later, so they wouldn't be doddering geezers in the time period the comics were set, or as new authors came on and decided to do new things incompatible with what had gone before. American superhero comics are reknowned for their utter lack of coherent continuity! Isn't this why people invented the word "Retcon?"

Robert R. said...

The central irony of this is that Batwoman was first introduced as a way of defusing gay innuendo regarding Batman and Robin in the 1950s.

I think calls for character purity ring a bit hollow considering she's been "comic book dead" since 1979. (I think most people would take being alive and a lesbian over being virtually forgotten and dead.) And had virtually disappeared between 1964 and 1979. Unless you were born in the 1950s or earlier, there's only a handful of Kathy Kane (Batwoman) stories published during your lifetime that aren't dream stories or parallel worlds, etc.

The "Batwoman" I think most people remember is really Batgirl, sexy librarian Barbara Gordon.

Sloanasaurus said...

Gasp.... maybe Richie Rich has grown up to be gay... or Lil' Lotta and Dot.

The world is ending.

Bent Lady said...

Batwoman...

If you put Tammy Bruce in the costume, then Batwoman *really will* have lesbian superpowers.

No one else will do.

Bent Lady said...
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Bent Lady said...

A lesbian and a Republican. That's not super?

www.talkradionetwork.com/tammylive