The best place to start reading… Batwoman (and Renee Montoya!)

This is part 2 of my 24-part-series “Super-Heroes: Best Place to start” [Link to complete list… here!].

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You’re interested in Batwoman [Link] / Kate Kane [Link]?

To me, the best place to start is:

“Batwoman: Elegy” by Greg Rucka (Writing) and John H. Williams III (Art), a trade paperback collection [Link: review] published in 2010.

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What’s the appeal of… Kate Kane?

A socialite, a military brat, a proactive, aggressive vigilante with a personality, every bit as intense as Bruce Wayne…

Ever since Kate Kane was introduced in 2006, she provoked great character moments and raised smart questions on the nature of morality, duty and loss. A mature, charismatic hero – and the first high-profile lesbian protagonist in superhero comics.

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Kate’s main storyline starts in “Elegy”. But her foes, friends and romantic foils were introduced in other, earlier “Batman” series.

For the whole picture, please read:

…as well as “Gotham Central”, a Greg Rucka / Ed Brubaker series that (co-)stars Renee Montoya, the most important side character / romantic foil in “Batwoman”:

after this – lengthy – backstory, the Batwoman character gets introduced in an important ensemble story (co-)starring Renee Montoya:

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both Kate’s and Renee’s story continue in:

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If you’re okay with missing *some* details, I recommend you skip these more peripheral and / or weaker volumes:

for a complete list of Kate’s appearances, please see [Link]

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common problems / grievances in “Batwoman” books:

  • Kate’s family has seen much drama, and Kate’s love life is equally complex. Since most “Batwoman” characters bottle up their feelings *very* hard, it constantly feels like important conversation just… fails to happen: The comic has many cold, angry and bitter character moments.
  • Both Kate and Renee are fan favorite characters. Still, months can pass without either of them making an appearance. Where *is* Renee, right now? What is her status?
  • Introduced in 4 different books and drawn by too many different artists, Kate’s main foes, the cultists of the ancient “religion of crime” have been a part of DC comics for 10 years… but still don’t feel conceptually strong or well-realized.

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Is the current monthly “Batwoman” book, launched in September 2011, any good?

Yes. Even though Greg Rucka, the writer who created Kate Kane in 2006, has left DC Comics, the current “Batwoman” storyarc, “Hydrology”, is even better-paced and more complex than “Elegy”. It’s a busy story with lots of side characters and backstory – but it still works as a starting point, and draws you in very quickly.

Update, 2014: The first 4 books of the new “Batwoman” series are excellent and tell one continuous and exciting story. Collections 5 and 6 are pretty bad and can be ignored.

Interested in other comic book heroes / heroines?

I’d recommend the character “The Huntress” (Helena Bertinelli), “Manhunter” (with vigilante attorney Kate Spencer) and “Starman” (Jack Knight), another artful, atmospheric and more mature series.

Plus: the 1990ies DC cult series “Chase”, drawn by J.H. Williams III, has story connections… and seems to have a similar tone / appeal.

Here’s my full list [Link]!

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related Links:

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my German comic book journalism:

7 comments

    1. Thansk! I haven’t read it yet.🙂

      I’m… fours years behind on all things Bruce Wayne. The only place that I’ve seen Damian in action so far has been a side-story in “Blackest Night”… and Volume 1 of Bryan Q. Miller’s “Batgirl”.

      So… Kate is important, in “Batman and Robin”? Or is it just a cameo?

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