The Batwoman comic books definitive issue-by-issue collecting guide and trade reading order for omnibus, hardcover, and trade paperback collections. Find every issue and appearance! Part of Crushing Krisis’s Crushing Comics Guide to Collecting DC. Last updated February 2017 with titles scheduled for release through October 2017.
There is not another character in comics today quite like Batwoman: A female legacy hero who has never been a “girl” or “ms” version and whose power, wealth, and training matches her “man” counterpart – and, who also happens to be an out lesbian with a complex romantic history.
The original Batwoman was introduced in the early Silver Age of DC, when every hero had a female counterpart, teen and kid version, and pet.
The Batwoman we’re reading today is not that Batwoman.
The current Batwoman, Kate Kane, put on her cowl in Batman’s absence during the aftermath of Infinite Crisis. Despite bearing the Bat codename and costume, for her first decade of publishing she was at best a distant cousin in the Bat family, disconnected from both their camaraderie and their drama (though she has forged a connection with Nightwing).
Kate Kane’s history is a twisted mirror of Bruce Wayne’s. Like Wayne, she is an estranged aristocrat who experienced childhood tragedy that fractured her family and relationships. While Wayne escaped Gotham for his lost years, Kane sought a path in the military before her career was prematurely ended.
Without her military career, she descends into a party-girl life of solipsism before a brief encounter with Batman shakes her out of it. Heroism fills a void for her, and she filled a void in Gotham in Batman’s absence.
In her earliest appearances Kane is shown as a long-haired, high-society bombshell, but as her story progresses she transformed into a pale-skinned, tattooed, punk-rock social pariah with a severe bob haircut. This standoffish, counter-culture version is the one that persisted.
While Batwoman was intriguing as a foil and love interest to Renee Montoya for her first two years of stories, she comes into her own in her starring run in Detective Comics penned by Greg Rucka with sumptuous art nouveau illustrations from J.H. Williams III. Williams would continue illustrating and writing the character into DC’s New 52 in 2011.
Batwoman disappeared for a while at the end of that period, only to pop back up as the co-lead of Detective Comics with equal standing to Batman in DC’s Rebirth in 2016 before returning to her own ongoing title in February of 2017.