Remembering Kathy Kane: The First Batwoman

by Fred Grandinetti

Kathy Kane, The Batwoman, was the first heroine to emulate a major male superhero in the pages of DC Comics.  Not a hero who appeared as a supporting character but one who was featured in three popular comic book titles.  Today, heroines have super powers beyond imagination. The ones, which don't, are able to flip the biggest bad guys over their shoulders.  Batwoman, though, was the trailblazer and she has often been dismissed by comic book critics and people in the industry as just part of the bat-clutter which appeared in the Caped Crusader's adventures from the late 1950' through mid-1960's. Throughout that era, Batman also had help from Bat-Mite, a visitor from another world dressed in a Batman costume, Ace the Bat-Hound, who was a German Shepard in a Bat-mask and Bat-Girl, Batwoman's niece.  Although some time elapsed between each character's debut, in general, they're all pretty much lumped together and regarded as the reason why Batman became less unique.  There were simply too many Bat-characters running around in Gotham City.

DC Comics, at the time, believed new characters would help bump up the sales and no one was opposed to that. However, Batwoman, her skills, her weapons, what made her unique and the ability to hold her own in such a male-chauvinistic time, has gotten lost in the shuffle.  She’s worth another look.

Millionaire playboy, Bruce Wayne had first donned the famed Batman costume in 1939.  Dick Grayson joined him as Robin the Boy Wonder in 1940.  For several years readers looked forward to reading their adventures in the pages of Detective Comics, Batman and later, World's Finest.  To most, they were a pair of heroes, who battled the criminals and masterminds of the underworld.  That is, until Dr. Fredric Wertham outted Batman and Robin as queers in his book, Seduction of the Innocent in 1954.

Wertham, a psychiatrist, launched a campaign against comics in true McCarthy style, which resulted in congressional hearings and the adoption of the Comic Code Authority.  While most of Wertham's attacks focused on the fact that young people would emulate the crimes they read about in the comics, he also attacked the relationship of Batman and Robin, stating:

"Sometimes Batman ends up in bed injured and young Robin is shown sitting next to him.  At home they lead an idyllic life.  They are Bruce Wayne and 'Dick' Grayson.  Bruce Wayne described as a 'socialite' and the official relationship is that Dick is Bruce's ward.  They live in sumptuous quarters, with beautiful flowers in large vases...Batman is sometimes shown in a dressing gown...It is like a wish dream of two homosexuals living together."  I suppose the fact they had a butler named Alfred living with them didn't help either.

The result of Wertham's attacks on Batman and Robin led DC Comics to make changes.  The Catwoman, Batman's feline foe since 1940, was now considered too strong and harsh a female to continue popping up to bedevil Batman.  She took an extended catnap (until 1966) and another woman debuted 1) to attract a younger audience to the Batman titles 2) to attract more girls into that audience 3) To socialize (lighten up) Batman and give him a female companion.  Sheldon "Shelly" Moldoff who drew Batman's adventures at this time said to me, "Wertham had suggested Batman and Robin was or could be mistaken for a gay relationship."

"There's only one Batman!  That's been said many times and has been true for no other man has ever rivaled Batman as a champion of the law, nor matched his superb acrobatic skill, his scientific keenness, his mastery of disguise and detective skill!  But now, in one suspenseful surprise after another, Batman finds he has a great rival in the mysterious and glamorous girl? The Batwoman!"

                                                                 From Detective Comics #233 (1956)

Designed by artist, Sheldon Moldoff, Batwoman wore a black and yellow body suit, oversized mask (red, later yellow in color), red cape with a weapons bag strung over shoulder.  Moldoff said, regarding her design, "Any character that came into the story was usually brought by the writer.  I would create the visual part of it.  So when people say to me, you created Batwoman, I would say it called for the character in the script."

Batwoman’s real name was Kathy Kane, a wealthy heiress and one time circus daredevil who used her skills to battle criminals like her idol, Batman.  She had her own “Batcave” and rode around Gotham City on her red motorcycle, the Bat-Cycle. To make sure that Batman fully understood this was a woman crimefighter (this story was also written years before women's liberation and the era before judo and karate were handy self-defense traits for females), Batwoman's weapons were all very ladylike.  Her weapon's bag contained lipstick cases filled with tear gas, a compact filled with sneezing powder, charm bracelets that were actually handcuffs and an oversized hair net, used to snare criminals.  Though Batwoman saved Batman from harm during her first adventure both he and Robin didn't readily accept her aid.  Kathy, being an ex-circus performer let some circus slang slip during her encounters with Batman, which he then used to discover her secret identify.  By the conclusion of her first adventure, Batman convinced Kathy that crooks could do the same so she decided to give up being Batwoman.  Kathy gave in without thinking clearly.  Robin says to Batman, "A girl saving you?  It's ridiculous!  Batman feels, rather than skill, it has been just "good luck" that she's been successful thus far. Later, Batwoman shows she has values when a crook, hiding in a giant robot costume, plans to slam her with an oversized fist. Batman pushed her out of the way and takes the blow.  Batwoman leans over the unconscious Batman and ponders, "While he's unconscious --I could lift his mask and see who he is.  No--I can't do it!  He got stunned because he tried to save me from a blow!  I'm to blame for his plight.  It wouldn't be fair for me to unmask him."

Though Batman states through out this story that he fears for Batwoman's safety and that she's taking too many risks Robin makes a very telling remark, when the police gain custody of yet another criminal she captures, "Batwoman's made us look like amateurs again!" 

The reader gets the impression it is perhaps competition from a woman that is unnerving the duo and her safety is not the prime concern.  When Batwoman returns to her Bat-cave she finds a boldly confident Dynamic Duo waiting and Batman says, "Hello--Kathy!"  Batman, his manhood restored, gives her the drivel about how crooks could find out her identity if he did and Kathy replies with "I--I never thought of that! I guess you're right!  I-I'll quit my career as Batwoman!"  Batman takes Kathy's portrait of herself as Batwoman for his own Bat-Cave and with the woman, shown her place in his world, relaxes. Though, with Robin's last line in the story, "I wonder if we'll ever fight crime with her again as the Dynamic Trio?" the door was truly left open for her return. 

Batwoman did return and despite no letters published to support this, the reading public, as Moldoff stated, "liked the idea" of a Batwoman.  Keep in mind that one of Batwoman's primary functions was to get Batman to pay attention to a female who would appear on a regular basis.  If Kathy Kane had failed to click with readers, more than likely, a new Batwoman would have been tried.

"The Challenge of Batwoman" was presented before the readership in Batman #105, 1957. Kathy Kane, bored with being a society girl, pines for her Batwoman days but she can't break her promise to Batman and don her costume again.  The solution arises when Kathy decides to wear her costume at the masquerade ball.  Meanwhile, Batman and Robin trail a gang of art thieves.  The bandit chief tries to escape when boarding the top of a moving train.  A thick puff of smoke blinds him and he falls.  Before blacking out, the bandit tosses his cowl in the bushes so he can't be identified as one of the crooks.  Batman, twists his ankle, while trying to chase after him.  Robin, goes after the crook and Kathy happens to drive on to the scene.  Kathy recognizes the crook as Curt Briggs, who runs a physical culture school.  She sees part of Brigg's face not blackened by the engine smoke and makes an incorrect conclusion, "Robin, it all adds up, your presence here, with a man who wore a cowl!  Curt Briggs is Batman!"  Instead of telling Batwoman the truth, Robin fears that if Kathy saw Bruce Wayne with an injured ankle and knew the real Batman had the same injury, she would deduce the truth.  Batman must have taught Robin the nature of females, as the boy wonder couldn't possibly tell Kathy this man is a criminal who was simply wearing a cowl to cover his face from the police.  She's a woman, after all, who would blare their secret identities over a public address system!

Due to the fall, Briggs has no memory of who he is and Batwoman, thinking he’s Batman, begins to retrain him as a crime fighter.  Batman thinks this is a good idea for criminals to think he is still active while recovering from his injury. He must have a lot of faith in Robin, teaming him up with a woman who he doesn't feel should be out battling criminals and is training a crook, wearing his costume!  When it's time for the bogus Batman and Robin to go on patrol, Kathy joins them stating, "Until Batman regains his memory, Batwoman is coming out of retirement!"  Briggs regains his memory and thinks to himself, "Batman and Robin must have some private reason for stringing Batwoman along this way…so I'll pretend I've still got amnesia and lead her and the kid right into a trap."  Briggs, as Batman, does just that at the scene of his gang's next robbery but the real caped crimefighter arrives!  Batwoman and Robin take care of the Brigg's gang while Batman, who stood on a dummy leg, says, "Thanks for your help, Batwoman! Without you, we could have never captured the Briggs gang!"  Robin later says to Kathy, "I'm sorry Batman and I had to trick you Kathy…but we know you'll  understand."  Of course, this story taking place in 1957, Kathy does and puts Batwoman back into "retirement".  While Batwoman certainly held her own in battle in her second outing this story smacks of male chauvinism. Batman and Robin can't trust in telling her the truth, mainly because they fear what she would do if she learned that Bruce Wayne was Batman!  Batman, who in the previous story was afraid of her safety, puts not only Batwoman but Robin in peril by allowing them to harbor a dangerous criminal.  The entire "trick" Batwoman plot line in this story demonstrates that women, even those who wore masks and capes, were still second class citizens in Gotham City and could not readily be trusted to keep a secret.

Things were looking up for The Batwoman by her third appearance, though not in either Batman nor in Detective Comics.  In World's Finest #90, 1957, Batman, Robin and Superman had to cope with "The Super Batwoman!"  Elton Craig, a "dangerous prisoner" has escaped, looking for a capsule made by Superman's father, Jor-El.  Once the capsule is taken, the person who took it gains super powers for twenty-four hours.  Batman, Robin and Superman team up to search for Craig. Kathy Kane, illustrated in a very beautiful manner, thinks to herself, "I, who was once Batwoman, could help Batman and Superman in this emergency!  Even though Batman discovered my identity and insisted I give up my career, he'd surely welcome my aid now!" 

However, when Batwoman joins the male heroes she gets a less than positive reaction!  Batman reminds Batwoman that crooks could learn her secret identity and Superman agrees.  Batwoman, instead of being greeted with admiration for her willingness to help in this dangerous situation is put in her place by men!  A dejected Batwoman starts homeward but her detective skills lead her to Craig.  She grabs the capsule but can't get past him.  I should note that her weapon's bag was not part of her wardrobe in this adventure.  Batwoman swallows the capsule and returns Craig to prison.  Batman, learning of Batwoman's powers, favors lecturing her rather than thank her for making the capture.  "You must go home and stay quiet until your powers have faded away!" Finally, Batwoman, having enough of Batman's lecturing, lets him have it. "Batman!  I'm tired of your bossing me.  Just because you found out my identity, you think your superior and keep lecturing me!"  Batman replies, "It's only for your own good!"  Batwoman attempts to use her X-Ray vision to see through Batman and Robin's masks.  However, Superman has lined their masks with lead.  Superman, the male which he is, chuckles and says, "Batman's proved that he's too clever for you Batwoman!" 

Batwoman decides to use her powers to discover their secrets but displaying her respect for their mission says, "I don't want to obstruct you in your vital work, so I'll declare a truce whenever you're on a mission--but other times look out!"  This small piece of dialogue shows what a dedicated crimefighter Kathy Kane so desperately wanted to be and to help, not hinder her colleagues.  However, all Batman, Robin and Superman saw was a female behind the mask, not the skills for crime fighting skills she possessed. While conflict in a story among characters makes for interesting reading, this constant put-down of Batwoman because Batman presumes she has a big mouth and would blurt out his secret identity was becoming irksome.  "Superman, with super-powers she could likely find out who we are and that would be risky for us! Crooks might trick the secret of our identities out of her!", the one-tracked minded Batman says as Batwoman flies off!  

Batwoman tries to use her powers to discover their secrets but is thwarted by Batman and Superman. However, she also uses her powers to help put out a huge fire and stop a threatening avalanche.  Dejected that she failed to learn the men's secrets, Batwoman says, "I'll go back home and never be Batwoman again!"  Batman, apparently impressed by her heroics stopping Craig, the fire and avalanche, replies, "No, Batwoman, we think you've won!  You showed such cleverness and courage that I can't ask you to drop your career completely.  Just be careful!"  A beaming Batwoman replies, "Oh, Batman--Superman-- you're darlings after all!"  Why Batman's sudden change of attitude?  In realistic terms, the character of Batwoman was apparently accepted by the readership and did provide a boost in sales.  To keep writing stories where she comes in and out of retirement would have been tedious.  Batman's acceptance of her role as a crimefighter was reluctant at best, and his desire for her to retire would remain for awhile.

If "The Super Batwoman" was a bit of a step up in Batman's acceptance of her ability as a crimefighter, her next appearance in "The Crime of Bruce Wayne" from Detective Comics #249, 1957 reminded the readers that this was after all, a woman, secondary to a man.  Commissioner Gordon asks Bruce Wayne to be convicted while posing as the criminal, The Collector.  The real Collector is at large in Gotham City. Gordon hopes that while Wayne is in prison, he can learn where a crook named Squint Neely is hiding blueprints valuable to the police.  Wayne succeeds but during a scuffle with Squint, the crook hits his head on an iron.  The criminals, who watched the incident, swear Wayne killed him and the warden believes them!  Commissioner Gordon, who has been in an auto accident and "in a coma ever since" and can't clear Wayne as his operative.  Wayne is scheduled to be executed but Robin swears he will capture the real Collector to prove him innocent.  Bruce says to Robin, "No--you can't do it alone, Dick!  You'll need help!  Go to the Batwoman!"  While it is refreshing that, at last, Batman has confidence in Kathy's abilities to entrust his life in her hands, it is unfortunate that the rest of the story shines such an indifferent light on her.  Robin, explaining that Batman is away on a case in Europe, asks Kathy to help.  She agrees but only on the condition that he works out of her Bat-Cave and follows her orders. 

Who could blame Kathy for wanting this condition after continually being rejected in her guise as Batwoman? Perhaps, she was a bit over confidence in making the deal, but her past being considered, easily understandable.  Batwoman and Robin find the real Collector and his gang pulling a job but when a stray bullet clips a sculpture that Kathy is under; Robin leaps to her rescue, allowing the criminals to escape. Batwoman finds hairs at the scene of the crime and examines them in her Bat-Cave to help deduce the identity of the masked Collector.  Robin, feeling she has overlooked something in examining the hairs, looks them over in Batman's Bat-Cave.  Sure enough, Batwoman jumped to the wrong conclusion while Robin deduction was correct.  Batwoman, again, overlooks a vital clue involving fingerprints which Robin detects. Batwoman and Robin locate the Collector's hideout, take care of the criminal's gang and Robin discovers the Collector's true identity. The only saving grace for Batwoman in this story was the conclusion where Batwoman says to Robin, "Robin, I'm sorry!  I shouldn't have been so smug about those clues!  I've been a fool!"  At least she was aware of her faults and being too hasty in her deductions.  Bruce says to Batwoman, "No, Batwoman--from what Robin tells me, he couldn't have cracked this case without your fine help!  Batman himself couldn't have done better!"  Bruce Wayne was on death's row for most of this story so either he was just being kind or Robin was filling his head with lies for this story should have been billed as "Robin" (in bold letters) with "Batwoman, the glamour gal" (in small letters).  While having Batwoman there to help battle the Collector's gang was helpful to Robin, it was clearly the Boy Wonder who discovered all the clues and led to the Collector's capture.   It is too bad readers weren't allowed to read a truly equal partnership between Batwoman and Robin. The fact, however, Bruce Wayne sent Robin to her rather than Bat-Hound, was one step further in solidifying Kathy's credibility as a crimefighter.   By the way, Commissioner Gordon never did wake up from his coma by the story's end.

Apparently Batman's acceptance of Kathy as Batwoman changed as often as the weather, for in her next adventure, "Batwoman's New Identity" from Batman #116, 1958, the description of the story reads: "There's only one Batwoman--and it's Batman's opinion that's one too many--for he feels that no girl should pursue the dangerous occupation of crimefighting." 

As this story would indicate to readers, Kathy took her role as a crime fighter very seriously.  She goes to the extreme of deciding to go undercover and dons a blonde wig and camera, beginning work as a photographer in gangster Al Talley's club.  By snapping photographs featuring members of the criminal Funny Face gang, she is able to predict their next strike.  Readers are reminded in this story Batwoman had her own methods to discover where criminals would strike, working independently from Batman.  Batwoman manages to alert a truck carrying a fur shipment to take a different route to prevent a theft by the Funny Face Gang. The gang tries to swing an iron ball at Batwoman but miss.  Batwoman, dazed is about to be attacked by the criminals when Batman and Robin arrive.   

When Batman confronts Batwoman regarding her undercover work he tells her its too dangerous and states, "not so long ago, you promised to give up crime fighting." She replies, "Why Batman, you know a lady has the right to change her mind."  Later, one of Funny Face gang recognizes the skin irritation on Batwoman's shoulder caused by her camera bag and captures her. Locked up, the still disguised Batwoman uses black carbon paper and a bellows to send a message to Batman as to where the gang has gathered.  Just as the gang leader prepares to rub off Batwoman's makeup and remove her wig, Batman and Robin arrive!  While Batman and Robin battle the gang members, Batwoman dives for the gang leader's leg and handcuffs herself to him saying, "One thing of my Batwoman costume I always wear are these trick handcuffs."  Batwoman comments to Batman that they make a good team but he replies, "Don't you know crime fighting is too dangerous for a girl?  Sometimes I wish your secret identity would be exposed so you'd have to quit being Batwoman!"  Batwoman replies, "Someone almost did!  Talley remember?  But you interrupted him!"  Batman moans, "Ohh-no-ooo".   While this story did have Batwoman being rescued by Batman and Robin, it also illustrated she had the ability to locate criminals using her own methods of detection and alert Batman to their whereabouts.  

Batwoman would not only have to worry about Batman's reluctant acceptance of her but a rival for his affections as well in Batman#119, "The Arch Rivals of Gotham City", 1958.  Up until now, Batwoman's romantic feelings towards the Caped Crusader had not been played up.  While it had been mentioned she admired Batman, it has never been written that she was in love with him or wished to be Mrs. Batman.  The Batwoman and news photographer, Vicki Vale, who had been seen in Batman's adventures since 1949 are finalists in "The Woman of the Year Contest".  The judge of the contest gives the ladies six hours to see who is the most talented in their chosen field. 

In World's Finest #104, 1959, Batman, Robin and Batwoman team up to stop Superman's arch foe, Luthor from disintegrating the Man of Steel.  Though captured by Luthor's henchmen, Batwoman is able to lead Batman and Robin to the criminal's hideout by leaving a lipstick trail, to which Robin remarks, "Batwoman certainly used her head!  She used her lipstick to draw arrows for us to follow."

In Batman #126, 1959, Kathy's love for the caped crusader got the better of her in "The Menace of the Firefly."  This story establishes that Kathy Kane and Bruce Wayne have been dating, but Kathy gives Bruce the brush off when she thinks that Ted Carson is really Batman.  Carson, turns out is actually the criminal known as Firefly.  When Kathy spotted Carson changing clothes in the bushes, she thought he was taking off a Batman costume. Batwoman thinks Bruce Wayne may actually be the Firefly and goes to Carson's home thinking she is alerting Batman.  Carson changes into his Firefly costume and ties Batwoman in his basement.  Batman and Robin arrive where The Firefly will strike next but are captured.  Just when the Firefly is about to beam a lethal light at the pair, a protective shield comes hurling from the hands of Batwoman!  "Surprised I'm free? Batwoman says, I managed to get the compact out of my utility purse--broke the glass and sawed through the ropes!" Later, after the criminal gang is jailed, Kathy Kane and Bruce Wayne resume dating.  The scene of Batwoman saving Batman and Robin's life by hurling the protective shield was featured on the comic book cover with text blaring; "Batwoman teams up with Batman and Robin to battle, The Menace of the Firefly!"  While this story illustrated how Kathy Kane's love for Batman led her to the wrong conclusions it also demonstrated Batwoman's ability to escape her own capture and pull off a rescue of the dynamic duo. 

Any critic of Batwoman, stating she was just a woman, wearing a costume in need of rescuing, will have his opinion questioned after reading, "The Return of Bat-Mite" from Detective Comics #276, 1960. While this story featured the magical imp from another dimension, Bat-Mite, whose joy is to see Batman, Robin and Batwoman in action, the girl gangbuster was featured prominently.  Batman scolds Bat-Mite for using his magic to prolong a battle he and Robin were having with a gang of criminals. Bat-Mite decides to visit Batwoman who describes the mite as a "cute little fellow".  Later, Batwoman, with Batman's knowledge, hides in a museum exhibit waiting for the Hobby Robbers gang to strike. Two criminals show up but Batwoman pulls out of her utility bag an imitation pearl necklace.  She snaps the string so that the crooks slip on the pearls. Batwoman is about to rope the pair when Bat-Mite uses his magic to trip up her up, allowing the crooks to scatter.  The criminals try to get away by climbing a huge organ.  Batwoman stomps on the organ's foot pedals, blowing the criminals in the air.  Batwoman swiftly pushes a huge drum (thanks to Bat-Mite's magic) under the bouncing crooks.  They bounce like yo-yos and, as the text reads, "Batwoman's capable fists take the bounce out of them."  Yes, you read it right; a woman was able to subdue two dangerous criminals by using her imagination and fists.  While Bat-Mite may have used his magic to prolong the battle and enlarge the drum, it was Batwoman who used what was at hand to capture the criminals without any help from neither Batman nor Robin

Despite Batwoman's achievement, Batman feels his plan to capture the rest of the Hobby Robbers is too "dangerous, we can't let Batwoman in on it."  Bat-Mite overhearing this informs Batwoman of Batman's plan, which does nothing but get him and Robin captured. Batman and Robin find themselves tied to the end of a pool filled with miniature boats containing real ammunition.  Batwoman dives in the water and uses a smoke bomb to blind the criminals while she frees Batman and Robin.  "It will give me a chance to free Batman and Robin without interference," she thinks to herself while hurling the smoke bomb.  Does Batwoman get rewarded from Batman? Instead, he thanks Bat-Mite for informing Batwoman of his plan.

The cover of Batman #129 has become infamous as it depicts female bondage, which was quite popular during the 1950's.  Batwoman is tied to a huge fan with The Spinner, a criminal, at the controls.  He warns, "Don't come any closer Batman or I'll turn the fan to full speed and Batwoman will be doomed."  As Batwoman saved Batman and Robin's lives in the recent past, it seems fair that they rescue her.  Of course, seeing the female form tied up on the cover was certainly an eye catcher to readers.  Yet, many people seem to remember this cover which leads them to believe every story Batwoman was in, featured her tied to some dangerous trap with Batman having to rescue her.  In this issue's tale, "The Web of the Spinner", Kathy Kane conducts her own investigation, which leads her to The Spinner's hideout. She rides up a windmill and invades the criminal's lair only to be spotted and tied to a spinning fan.  Batman arrives and throws a pitchfork into the fan's controls and frees Batwoman.  Through the combined detective work of both Batman and Batwoman, the identity of the Spinner is revealed.

A glimpse of what may happen for a grown-up Robin was seen in "The Second Batman and Robin Team" from Batman #131, 1960.  In this tale of the future, written by Alfred, Bruce Wayne had married Kathy Kane and she gave birth to a son, Bruce junior.  Later, Bruce junior aid's Dick Grayson, now called "Batman-II", as "Robin-II".  When the pair get into trouble, Bruce Wayne dons his Batman costume and despite protests from her husband, Kathy becomes Batwoman.  When Bruce tells Kathy to stay home the text reads, "Naturally no man ever wins an argument with a woman." 

In Batman #133, 1960, Bat-Mite returns as "Batwoman's Publicity Agent".  The story opens with three criminals pushing Batwoman off a balcony.  Though Batman and Robin arrive at the scene they're too late to break her fall but suddenly Batwoman loops around in mid-air and slams back into her attackers, bouncing off an information booth.  Batwoman's capture is caught on camera and a reporter shouts, "Wow! this is the greatest single-handed capture of all time!"  Batman asks Batwoman how she pulled off the stunt but the girl gangbuster doesn't know but suddenly the answer appears in the form of Bat-Mite.  Bat-Mite, again, wants to become Batwoman's partner but his nature to cause trouble gets the better of him and he pops back to his own dimension.  Batwoman says, "Funny..though I just can't stay angry with that cute little imp!  When do you suppose he'll return again?"

In Detective Comics #285, 1960, "The Mystery of The Man-Beast", a caveman, who has been in refrigeration thaws out and escapes.  Batman and Robin go after the caveman and Kathy thinks, "I'd better slip into my costume…maybe Batman will need the help of Batwoman."  By this time in Batwoman's career, it's apparent she didn't care what Batman thought of her efforts to be a crime fighter.  Batman and Robin have a tough time stopping the caveman until Batwoman arrives with a roast chicken, which calms the beast down.  "You men, Batwoman says, you always think you know everything!  You didn't stop to think that he might be hungry after sleeping thousands of years!" Robin looks at the caveman, who has been gassed to sleep and says, "Wow--look at his muscles! The toughest guy in the world, but he's beaten now!"  Batman chimes in with "Beaten by a woman no less."  The beast later escapes with Batman, Robin and Batwoman in pursuit.  Along a mountainside, a lion springs towards Batwoman when suddenly the caveman appears and wrestles with the beast.  The pair tumbles over a cliff and Batman thinks that it's best as he could not adapt in this world.

Another bizarre criminal battles the crimefighting trio in Detective Comics #286, 1960, "The Doomed Batwoman".  One could appreciate the adventures of one Bat-female in Batman's life but this issue introduced another in a story called, "Bat-Girl!" Betty Kane, upon visiting her Aunt Kathy discovers her secret life, whips up a costume and becomes the teen-aged Bat-Girl.  Feeling distinctly like Batman must have in adventures past, Kathy seeks council from Batman on how to dissuade her from dangerous crime fighting.  Batman suggests that Kathy keep her in training until it's time for her to go home.  Betty catches wise to Kathy's plan and heads out on her own to capture the Cobra Gang.  Although she finds the gang on her own, she gets captured.  Bat-Girl manages to send out a paper Bat-Signal which alerts Batman, Robin and Batwoman to the scene.  The foursome, their talents combined, capture the Cobra Gang and Batwoman says to Bat-Girl maybe they will go out on a case together someday. 

While Bat-Girl was a cute addition to the Batman Family, probably added for the same reason Batwoman was, to give Robin a love interest and stifle those homosexual rumors, her presence did take away some of Batwoman's uniqueness. It simply was a matter of one Bat-female too many and, along with Bat-Mite and Bat-Hound, gave the impression that anyone could be Bat-something and battle criminals in
Gotham City.  One interesting footnote to this story featured a scene where Betty is watching Batwoman on television.  The news announcer says, "Surprising thieves robbing the safe of a manufacturer of school supplies, Batwoman instantly went into action."  Batwoman slams several stools at two criminals and follows up the capture by upsetting a box of gold stars.  As Betty watches, she thinks to herself, "Golly!  She's wonderful! How I wish I could be like her!"  This brief scene illustrated that not only was Batwoman able to track down criminals on her own but nabs them without Batman or Robin's help.  The more sophisticated Batman fan often forgets this fact today.  

Batwoman was featured on the cover, and in a minor role, in Batman #140, 1961. "The Eighth Wonder of Space". In this tale, Batman and Robin are turned into strange alien creatures.  The interesting aspect in this story is that we learn Commissioner Gordon knows that Batman learned the secret identity of Batwoman, though it doesn't look as though Gordon knows who she is.

Bat-Girl returned to help Batman, Robin and Batwoman in Batman #141, 1961 billed as "Batwoman's Junior Partner".  Bat-Girl not only manages to help Robin capture the Moth but frees Batman and Batwoman from a dangerous trap.  While Bat-Girl may have been introduced to gain more girls to buy comics, Robin's displeasure of Bat-Girl's overt affection towards him, did little to help some wonder if he would rather be sending flowers to Batman.  By this time in Batman's comic book career a letter page was added, with reader's stating, "How did Batwoman get started on her career?  She's one of my favorite characters, and I would like to know more about her".  One reader wrote that, though he appreciated the Batman Family of characters, felt there presence was taking away the uniqueness of Batman.  The reply was that many readers felt the opposite and wanted to see more of The Batman Family.   Batwoman was briefly seen in Batman #144, 1961 in "Bat-Mite Meets Bat-Girl", which featured the imp trying to play matchmaker between Bat-Girl and Robin. 

Batwoman and Robin had to cope with a giant Batman in Detective Comics #292, 1961 when he became "The Colossus of Gotham City".  During this stage in his career, Batman was being transformed into all kinds of strange creatures.  In this tale, he becomes a giant and Kathy Kane thinks to herself, "Batman knows I'm Batwoman--but I only suspect that he's Bruce Wayne".  When the Batman giant is unmasked by thugs, the crimefighter had the foresight to disguise his face beforehand, leaving Batwoman to comment, "This proves again how wrong I was to suspect that Bruce Wayne was Batman!"  When Batman begins to shrink back to normal size during a battle, Robin and Batwoman swing to his aid.  Batman appeared more pleased that a ruse he planned with Superman, "even fooled Kathy Kane" to keep his Bruce Wayne identity a secret than being returned too normal.  This 1950's mentality, that women must be secondary to men in the deductive field, was carried over into Batwoman's next appearance, in the physical sense.

In Detective Comics #302, 1961, Batwoman, again, works independently from Batman and Robin to track down "The Bronze Menace".  In one scene Batwoman swings down from a rope to capture a criminal stealing rare sculptures.  Suddenly two more thugs appear and when Batwoman sees them she thinks to herself, "Oh dear--too many for me to handle, I'm afraid!"  One crook throws a net on her while the others scatter until Batman and Robin arrive.  Batman orders Robin to, "Help Batwoman with that net".  It appears that for every step Batwoman took forward in proving herself a capable crimefighter, the male writer couldn't resist reminding the audience, "hey, she is a woman, after all"! Later in the story, Batwoman's pursuit of a criminal leads her to discover that Batman and Robin have been turned into Bronze Statues. She not only revives the crimefighters but also turns the criminals into statues.  If it wasn't for the writer of this story's decision to have Batwoman save the day, that "Oh dear" scene, would have severely set back Batwoman's crime fighting career.

Detective Comics #307, 1962 saw Batman, Robin and Batwoman confront yet another science fiction related problem in the form of "Alpha, The Experimental Man!" Alpha, an artificial man made of synthetics falls in love with Batwoman and says to her, "Batwoman!  You are not un-nice to look at!" Batwoman turns to Batman and says, "Did you hear that compliment Batman? I wish you could be as sweet to me!" Alpha, while looking at Batwoman and Batman chatting thinks to himself, "Her face--her eyes grow soft--when she looks at Batman!"  Alpha ends up saving Batwoman's life when she becomes trapped on a ledge but Batman never says to her, she is "un-nice" to look at.

Batman #153, 1962 featured a major turning point in Batman and Batwoman's relationship.  In "Prisoners of Three Worlds", Batwoman and Bat-Girl aid the crimefighting males in battling a creature from another world.  The alien creature sends Robin and Bat-Girl back to his world while splitting Batman and Batwoman into two beings.  One set of Batman and Batwoman are pure energy, stranded on an alien planet, while their earthly bodies remain in a weakened state.  Batman and Batwoman huddle together, awaiting death as their bodies become weaker and weaker.  Batwoman, says to Batman, "Hold me close!  If I must die I want to be in your arms!  Oh, Batman!  You know I love you--dying wouldn't be so bad, if I knew you loved me too--".  Batman's eyes widen and he replies, "I--I do love you!  I never wanted to admit it before." Batwoman then kisses Batman.  Of course, after Batman and Batwoman retain their energy selves and defeat the alien, Batman explains to Batwoman, "Well-er Batwoman, I thought we were going to die and I wanted to make your last moments happy ones!"  Batwoman says, "hmmm--I wonder."  While Batman had an excuse for admitting he loved Batwoman, Bat-Girl also planted a kiss on Robin in this story. By the end of the tale, Robin was finally smitten with Batwoman's junior partner.  Perhaps, Batman couldn't commit to Batwoman because it wasn't the macho thing to do during this period of time?

Although Batwoman's role is minor in Batman #157, 1963, "The Hunt for Batman's Secret Identity", Batman acknowledges Batwoman's bravery as a crime fighter.  When Batman and Robin dart out a door to chase after the Mirror Man and his gang they see the fallen figure of Batwoman!  Batwoman explains, "I heard the news flash--came to investigate and saw the Mirror Man and his gang running out. I tried to stop them, but they overpowered me!"  Batman, putting his hand on Batwoman's chin says, "You did a brave thing tackling those men alone, Batwoman!  You've always been a big help--so don't feel too badly about this!"  Finally!  Batman has fully accepted and come to appreciate what Kathy Kane has done to battle crime in her role as Batwoman.  It's too bad she is not seen capturing any criminals in this story, which revolves around Vicki Vale, but you, can't get everything from this era.

Batwoman, again in a minor role, attempts to capture the Cat-Man in Detective Comics #311, 1963, "The Challenge of The Cat-Man".  She gets tied up by the Cat-Man who falls in love with her.  Batman arrives and thanks Batwoman for delaying him but the feline crook becomes smitten with the girl gangbuster. This was an interesting role reversal as The Catwoman was in love with Batman and now a Cat-Man has fallen for Batwoman.

Bat-Girl teamed again with Batwoman in "The Great Clayface-Joker Feud" from Batman #159, 1963. Clayface, a shape-changing criminal and The Joker decide to see who can outwit Batman first. The Joker gets snagged in a net sprung from two whirly-bats, operated by Batwoman and Bat-Girl.

It was revealed in Detective Comics #318, 1963, "The Cat-Man Strikes Back" that the public thought Batman and Batwoman were an item.  Cat-Man, having saved Batwoman from falling into a ravine, stirs mixed emotions regarding his capture in the lady crimefighter.  "What a strange man he is, good-looking, intelligent--yet a criminal!  What a waste."  Batman and Batwoman decide to use Cat-Man's romantic feelings towards her as a way to locate his hide out and capture him.  Batman and Batwoman have a public argument where she says, "Cat-Man was right about you!  Crimefighting is your only love.  Don't ever talk to me again!" Batwoman then slaps Batman (something this writer thinks she should have done when he was bossing her around, earlier in her career!).  The newspaper headline reads, "Batman and Batwoman Split-Up."  Batwoman, disguised as a little old lady, gets Cat-Man's men to take her to his lair where she puts on a Cat-Woman costume to prove her loyalty to the feline felon.  Of course, Batwoman becoming Cat-Woman is all a ruse so she can alert Batman and Robin to Cat-Man's hide out.  The plan does nothing but end all three crimefighters in predicaments.  Batwoman is taken hostage by Cat-Man while Batman and Robin imprisoned.  With the help of Bat-Hound, Batman and Robin blast their way free and go after Cat-Man.  Cat-Man speeds away on his boat with Batman in pursuit.  The feline foe prepares to throw a razor sharp catarang at Batman when Batwoman slams into him throwing him off balance and her into the water.  Batman decides to rescue Batwoman and they watch the Cat-Man's boat hit a buoy and explodes!  They both wonder if the Cat-Man has survived and will return. 

Batwoman again saves Batman and Robin's lives in Detective Comics #321, 1963, "The Terrible Trio". Batman disguises himself as a convict, Elton Craig, to get in league with the terrible trio; The Fox, The Shark and The Vulture.  Batwoman, not aware that Craig is Batman, trails him to the trio's hideout. Batman and Robin attempt to capture the trio but are stunned by an electrical floor built to stop them. The crooks decide to smuggle the pair right out of this world.  When Batman and Robin awake they find themselves in two separate missiles, launched skyward.  Being able to communicate via there belt-radio, Batman says to Robin, "Robin--I'm afraid this looks like our finish! G-good bye lad.." Meanwhile Batwoman has snuck into the trio's lair and adjusted the missile's controls so that Batman and Robin can return to earth.  When spotted by the criminals she tosses her expanded hairnet in the air, which lands on the threesome.  The Shark's miniature harpoons snag her cape and pin her to the wall while the Vulture rips through the net with his talon knife.  Batman and Robin appear and capture the crooks before they can harm Batwoman.  Batman says, while rushing in, " I'm beginning to understand how those manual controls in the missiles were suddenly turned on!"   Batwoman says to Batman it's a good thing that she never suspected he was convict Elton Craig or she wouldn't have followed the phony criminal to the trio's hideout.  This story certainly illustrates the advantage of having Batwoman around for Batman found no way out of his peril and said farewell to the boy wonder.

The Batwoman was involved in "The Batman Creature" from Batman #162, 1964.  Once gain, Batman is transformed into some weird creature, this time a Bat-Ape.  Only Batwoman is able to control him and she helps Robin nab the criminals behind his transformation.  Batman is later returned too normal. Kathy Kane's notion that Bruce Wayne is Batman was played up again in "The Ghost of Batman" from World's Finest #139, 1964.  Bruce asks Superman to stand in for Batman while he goes on a date with Kathy to halt her suspicions.  Superman, dressed as Batman is caught in an explosion and to help find the criminals, who caused it, Superman flies about dressed as a Batman-ghost!  Meanwhile, it is reported Batman was killed in the explosion to panic the criminals.  Batwoman manages to capture one of the criminals involved to the dismay of Batman and Superman.  The crimefighting duo wanted the criminal Batwoman caught to get away in hopes he would lead the pair to the entire gang's hideout. Once all the criminals are caught and the Batman ghost revealed to be a hoax, Kathy is again tricked into thinking that Bruce Wayne and Batman are two separate people.  Wayne thinks to himself that it was a good thing Kathy suspected him of being Batman or he never would have asked Superman to double for him and he would have died in the explosion.  So, in a sense, this time Kathy Kane saved Batman's life. 

Alfred wrote another of his tales of the future featuring a married Bruce Wayne and Kathy Kane. Kathy's niece Betty comes to visit and decides no longer to be Bat-Girl but, "Bat-Girl--Batwoman II" in Batman #163, 1964.  This would be the last time Batwoman/Kathy Kane would be in the pages of Batman. Detective Comics #325, 1964 saw the return of the Cat-Man in "The Strange Lives of The Cat-Man."  It was the costume the criminal wore which saved him from doom in his last two outings.  The costume, made on a small pacific island, which worshipped cats, protects the wearer from harm, giving them nine lives.  When Batman and Robin are tied in the middle of the street with Cat-Man setting the road on fire, Batwoman wearing her Cat-Woman costume walks through the fire to save the pair, ""Don't worry! I'm coming to free you", she says.   The Cat-Woman costume is made from the same material as Cat-Man's attire.  Batwoman then uses up many of the costume's lives to catch up to the Cat-Man, who is perched on a high rise.  Cat-Man  says to Batwoman, "I love you--but I love freedom more!  I cannot allow you to capture me!"  He manages to push a large elephant statue, causing Batwoman to fall back to her doom.  Batman and Robin arrive and the caped crimebuster catches the falling Batwoman.  Batman says to Batwoman, "I'm glad you phoned police headquarters when you tracked the Cat-Man to this place!"  Batwoman replies, "I'm glad I decided at the last minute not to play this alone."  Although, since the costume had one life left, Batwoman would have survived the fall.  In the last panel, Batman, Robin and Batwoman see a jailed Cat-Man.  This would be Kathy Kane's final appearance in costume in Detective Comics.

In 1964, the sales on both Batman and Detective were low. While many contribute this decline to

Batwoman, Bat-Hound, Bat-Mite and Bat-Girl, letters have indicated readers wanted to see more of these characters.  In truth, too many Bat-characters did spoil the brew in addition to the outlandish science fiction stories, which were, totally out of Batman's element.  They were there, as Sheldon Moldoff said, "One of those things must have worked, so they kept trying." Moldoff also stated regarding this period in Batman's adventures, "Society changes and the readers wanted more realism in art and story line."   Batwoman probably could have been used, on occasion, if the other Bat-characters were retired but when editor Julius Schwartz took over --he cleaned house.   The "New Look" Batman began in Detective Comics #327, 1964 and featured more modern artwork.  Alfred, was killed off and Dick Grayson's Aunt Harriet was brought in to avoid that question, "What do three men do in a mansion together?"

Batman's sales began to slowly climb but it was the debut of the Batman TV series in January of 1966 which made him a household name.  An array of Batman related merchandise was produced and oddly enough, Batwoman was included in a few products.  Though using the wrong colors for her costume there was a Batwoman paper doll and Batwoman flasher ring.  Some products used the image of Batwoman and called her Catwoman!  The Catwoman, had long since vanished from the comics and apparently there were no model sheets available for the feline criminal. Manufacturers, used Batwoman's image by mistake.  In a 1966 issue of Castle of Frankenstein featuring an article on the Batman series, there is a picture of Batwoman, smiling, on her Bat-Cycle.  The caption under the photo states this is how The Catwoman currently appears in the comics!?!

In 1965 Kathy Kane appeared as Bruce Wayne's wife and later, as Batwoman in Worlds Finest #154, in the imaginary story, "The Sons of Superman and Batman". Kathy Kane, with gray in her hair also appeared in Worlds Finest #157, 1966, "The Abominable Brats".  Beyond that, Batwoman was seen only in reprinted stories.  She was also getting bashed in letter columns when compared to the "new" Batgirl, who, debuted in Detective Comics #359, 1966.  This mod-dressed, red haired Batgirl was Barbara Gordon, daughter of Commissioner Gordon.  This Batgirl relied on karate and judo to battle criminals which was more appropriate to her time period as Batwoman using her weapon's bag in the late 1950's.  Still, when compared to Batgirl, Batwoman took a beating as in this letter from Detective Comics #417, 1971:

"I'd like to say a few words about the reaction some readers have to Batgirl.  These are readers who remember Batwoman and the other Bat-girls from year's back.  These characters were invented when the time was right for bats.  They were there because romance seemed to be needed in Batman's life.  But thanks to the big change and a foresighted editor, these hapless females are gone for good.  In their place stands a girl who is a capable crime-fighter, a far cry from Batwoman who constantly had to be rescued from Batman." 

In 1975, DC Comics began publishing Batman Family, which was a spin-off of the successful Superman Family comic book. The lead characters in Batman Family were Batgirl and Robin. While Batgirl and Robin were featured in new stories (often teamed together) the rest of the comic reprinted old Batman adventures.  The letter column featured in Batman Family #4 featured this comment from a reader, "It is totally beyond me why you ignored Batwoman in your first two issues. With the "new look" Batman a successful eleven years old, I can understand your reluctance to go back to the days where everybody in Gotham had a Bat-identity, but you can't wipe out Batwoman that easily."  The following issue of Batman Family said more of the same from a reader, "The only thing I didn't like was Batwoman's reappearance in a reprint.  I was counting on her making the scene in a new story, perhaps coming out of retirement to offer assistance to your Dynamite Duo?  How about it? The reply from editor Bob Rozakis planted the seed for Batwoman's return; "Who knows what will happen? If enough readers demand it, maybe Kathy Kane will don her Batwoman costume again!"

More and more requests for the return of Batwoman poured in, too many to be ignored and she was revived in Batman Family #10, 1977.  On the cover of Batman Family #10, Batgirl is caught in a struggle with two criminals, Killer Moth and The Cavalier. Batwoman is pictured in a box, billed as "Batgirl's guest heroine".  Killer Moth is a criminal wearing a moth costume whom first appeared in the 1950's.  The Cavalier goes back to the 1940's.  Both criminals had been put into limbo but, along with Batwoman, were revived for this story called, "Those Were the Bad Old Days."  Written by Bob Rozakis, with obvious affection for Kathy Kane, the story begins with Barbara reading a letter addressed to Batgirl asking isn't it about time she change her name to Batwoman?  Barbara thinks to herself that there was a Batwoman before she started crime fighting and wonders about her current whereabouts. Kathy meets Barbara in Providencetown, mentioning she hasn't been back to
Gotham City since she left eight years ago to run a carnival.  When Bruce Wayne is mentioned, Kathy says, "Ah..Bruce..still the carefree bachelor, I'm sure!  There was a time when I hoped--but you don't want to hear the leftover dreams of a retired jet-setter." 

When both Killer Moth and The Cavalier attack Batgirl, Batwoman joins the fray, to the shock of the red-haired lady crimefighter.  Batwoman explains to Batgirl, "I've been in retirement for years, but when I heard The Cavalier was back in action I decided to take the old costume out of mothballs."  This is a shaky reason at best when one considers all of the dangerous criminals who have appeared, while Kathy was in retirement. During the course of the story, Barbara and Kathy stumble upon each other's identities and bring both criminals to justice.  Barbara asks Kathy, "Is Batwoman going back into retirement?"  Kathy replies, "Guess so!  It was fun wearing the old costume again…chasing around like I was a big important crimefighter--but I'm no spring chicken anymore!  I'll leave the criminals--and The Batwoman name to you--you're a most worthy successor."  Barbara responds, "It's an honor Kathy--but I think I'll stick with being Batgirl.  There has been and always will be only one Batwoman..and retired or not, it's you."

While the story was well written and the characterization of Kathy Kane well defined, Batwoman just wasn't the same.  Her costume was now a yellow body suit, with black lines.  While she retained her red cape, she no longer sported a red diamond in the center of her waist.  She had fur trim around her red gloves and no weapon's bag slung over her shoulder.  This version of Batwoman certainly didn't need a weapon's bag, as she was prone to using her acrobatic skills to battle the criminals.  She was also pretty capable with her fists.  Clearly, Batwoman was seen as an older version of Batgirl losing the costumed elements, which made her unique during the late 1950's and early 1960's.

Readers wanted to see more of Batwoman after this story was published.  One reader stated: "The revived and revised Batwoman is a resounding success!"  Another said, "Stupendous--that's the word I use to describe the return of the original daredoll--Batwoman." Others comments included, "It's ridiculous for you to even talk about re-retiring a dynamite character like her" and "she is too interesting to retire."   Unfortunately Batwoman's follow up appearance was less than stellar, featuring a weak story and even weaker art.  Batman Family #14, 1977 presented, "Old Super-Heroines Never Die--They Just Fade Away", written by Bob Rozakis.  Batwoman arrives at Barbara Gordon's apartment, fading away.  Barbara, in tears, tries to discover what happened to Batwoman.  With Robin's help, she learns Batwoman tried to stop two thieves, who worked for Kathy Kane's carnival, from robbing a mansion.  One of the crooks hits Batwoman with a weapon called, "The Convincer".  Batwoman's body slowly begins to disintegrate and so will anyone else whom she has been in contact with, including Batgirl and Robin!  Batgirl and Robin catch the criminals and restore Batwoman to normal, who was actually inside her costume all along. Batwoman's role in this story was little more than a cameo and the only brief exchange worth mentioning is when she says to Robin, "Believe me…after this, I'm going to stay in retirement." Robin replies, "I'll believe that when I see it."  Batwoman's costume was altered in this story as now a red-outlined bat symbol blazed across her chest. 

Before getting into Batwoman's next appearance it should be noted to explain how characters such as Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman didn't seem to age in comics, DC established the concept of Earth-II.  This was the earth where Superman made his debut in 1938, never was Superboy and didn't have a cousin, Supergirl, Wonder Woman battled Nazis during World War II

and Batman arrived on the scene in 1939 using a gun in his early adventures.  Through out the 1960's and 1970's, the characters on Earth-II were seen quite a bit.  If a storyline could not be introduced in the younger version of Superman's career, it would become part of the Earth-II Man of Steel's life.  For example, on Earth-II Superman married, reporter Lois Lane and Batman wed Selina Kyle, The reformed Catwoman.  On Earth-II, Selina Wayne gave birth to a daughter, Helena. When Selina is blackmailed into one more crime as Catwoman, she is killed.  Helena dons the costume of The Huntress to not only avenge her mother's death but replace her father as the guardian of Gotham City.

Helena Wayne's doubts of becoming the Huntress was worked into the first story depicted in Batman Family #17, 1978, "Scars".  Helena travels to Earth-One, the planet where the younger versions of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman reside (and presumably the earth where there adventures, post-1960, have taken place).  Helena meets with Batman who suggests that she seek the council of an "older, experienced super-heroine--and I know just the person--Kathy Kane!" Batman takes Helena to meet Kathy and while this would be the first meeting of Batman and Kathy Kane since 1964, it's hardly a big reunion scene.  Now, think for a moment, Batman is taking Helena Wayne, the daughter of Bruce Wayne from another Earth to meet Kathy Kane. Helena explains to Kathy who she is, what her connection is to the Earth-II Batman and Catwoman and maybe, just maybe do you think Kathy is smart enough to figure who the Earth-1 Batman really is?  While this is certainly never mentioned in the story, one should hope Kathy Kane isn't that dumb.

The meeting of Kathy and Helena is really just a set-up for the next story which appears in the same issue, "Horoscopes of Crime".  Barbara Gordon joins Helena and Kathy to do battle with The Catwoman, Poison Ivy and a new criminal called, Madame Zodiac.  Batwoman's role in this story is saved until the last act where she confronts Madame Zodiac who hits her with a trash can lid.  Batwoman whacks the lid out of her hands and says, "Lady--I've been doing this stuff for years--and I've been hit with a lot worse than a trash can lid--so you tell me what you see in these stars."  With that Batwoman, belts Madame Zodiac with her fist - "POW!" While there was an interesting confrontation between The Huntress and the Earth-1 Catwoman,  it would have also been thought provoking to explore Batwoman's first meeting with the feline criminal.  Both women, after all, had a mutual attraction towards Batman and Batwoman did take Catwoman's place in his life when she vanished from the chronicles in 1954.

Batwoman next appeared with Batgirl in two issues of Freedom Fighters #14 and #15, 1978, written by Bob Rozakis.  The pair help the Freedom Fighters, a group of superheroes wanted by the law, battle an alien invasion, which takes place in Providencetown near Kathy Kane's Kolossal Karnival. Batwoman became a team player in this story using her fists to battle the aliens.  A red bat-symbol was now a part of her uniform, appearing across her breasts.

I recall, when I first read the news regarding the death of Kathy Kane.  I was flipping through the latest issue of Detective Comics and the letter column started with "As expected the death of Kathy Kane brought a loud cry of protest?"  I was stunned, when did I miss this?  I quickly grabbed the back issue of Detective Comics, where this event took place.  It was issue #485, 1979 and the lead story was called "The Vengeance Vow".   Batman arrives at Kathy's carnival after getting a tip The League of Assassins would be there.  Kathy is already doing battle with the assassins upon Batman's arrival.  They exchange pleasantries when a man in a tiger mask bursts in and declares, "We have come for the women!"  Batman boasts, "You'll have to get past me first!"  The tiger- masked figure kicks Batman, which causes him to pass out but before he blacks out, he sees the rise and fall of steel and "hears Kathy's cry."   Batman awakens and discovers that Kathy managed to crawl away, clutch her Batwoman costume and dies.  "She died, Batman says, clutching her costume, the clothes she once wore as Batwoman."  Batman's mysterious foe, Ras Al Ghul, tipped off the League of Assassins that Kathy was a threat to their organization. Ras Al Ghul wanted Batman to eliminate his competition, The League of Assassins, out of vengeance. What is disturbing about this story was that Batman, woke up the next morning, more concerned that he was knocked out by one blow to the chest rather than the death of a close friend.  Sure, Batman arrived at the murderer's lair, threw Batwoman's mask down as a challenge to the masked muscle man, called The Bronze Tiger and captured Kathy's two killers.

Was there another motive behind killing Kathy Kane other than telling a gripping story?   Denny O'Neil, the writer of "The Vengeance Vow", stated in an interview, "we already had Batgirl, we didn't need Batwoman."  The truth is the sales on Detective Comics were getting so low, there was talk of cancellation.  Instead, the magazine was combined with the more popular Batman Family title.

In order to boost sales of Detective Comics, both O'Neil and the publishers at DC Comics, felt that the killing of a beloved character would boost reader interest.  Once Kathy was killed, her death wasn't mentioned by Batgirl, who had become close friends with her nor Betty Kane, the original Bat-Girl, who had been revived in the comic book, Teen Titans, shortly after Batwoman's return.   While readers praised the story, many felt that Kathy should have survived.  As one reader summed it up: "Though used infrequently, the character of Batwoman is too good to lose". 

The fanzine, "The Heroines Showcase" paid tribute to The Batwoman in issue #18, Summer 1980.  The author of the piece had this say regarding her demise, "I've just been re-reading Detective #485 wherein Batwoman gets bumped off by the League of Assassins and I must admit being…well, disturbed.  For one thing it's the unexpected nature of her demise; a far cry from the usual comic book "death" (blasted into another "another dimension" and back in six issues) she's stabbed in the belly and bleeds to death, which is a hell of a mess and undignified way to go - besides being painful, of course.  Not that it seems to worry Batman a lot, which is the second unpleasant aspect of this story; oh, he vows revenge, sure, but so what?  He's done that much for total strangers in the past - considering that this is a woman he once came to admitting he loved; I would have expected just a little sorrow.  And since it was his under-estimation of a foe who indirectly caused her death, a trace of guilt or self-doubt might have been in order.  But no…after all, Kathy Kane's murder was basically just a cheap trick to launch Batman into action.  One can almost see O'Neil plotting the story, "Now lessee...what can I do for a springboard to get Bats into yet another rematch with the boring old League of Assassins?  Oh yeah…I'll kill off Batwoman and have him swear revenge…after all, who's gonna miss her?"  Well, I will.  Oh, you could argue that she was a silly character but that doesn't mean potential couldn't have been developed.  People have regarded Batwoman as "femme" or "cutest" but I'd point out that she saved Batman almost as often as he saved her, which for a heroine of the unliberated fifties wasn't bad going and I one, thought her cosmetic weapons were appealing and distinctive…no I thought Batwoman had a lot going for her and I resent her being killed when such bland boring characters as Vicki Vale, the original Bat-Girl and indeed, the present Batgirl, are still around."

I was at my local comic book store when I spotted the cover to The Brave and The Bold #182, 1982, a comic, which teamed Batman with various heroes.  Was that Batwoman on the cover, along with Batman and what appeared to be an older version of Robin?  Though her cape was colored blue rather than red, it was indeed...Batwoman.  How, I thought, she's dead?!?   The story, "Interlude on Earth-II" begins with Dick Grayson, now a US Ambassador, investigating a freak electrical storm with Ted Knight, known as the hero, Starman.  Professor Hugo Strange, one of the original Batman's earliest foes, thought long dead, is causing the storm.  He steals Starman's cosmic rod and warns the pair that he will destroy Gotham City in twenty-four hours.  Meanwhile the Earth-1 Batman is drawn to a cemetery and almost hit by lighting.  The lighting causes a dimensional rift and he is transported to Earth-II, in front of the graves of the Earth-II Bruce Wayne and his wife, Selina. Robin asks Batman if he will help stop Hugo Strange and the two set out to locate the madman. Robin soon resents Batman giving him orders, as he is no longer the "boy wonder".  Strange creates images from Robin's past to create havoc in Gotham including one of the Spinner's old weapons, a giant top!  Before Batman or Robin can stop the destruction it will surely cause, a thin rope grabs the top and steers it out of harm's way.  Robin says, "Who on earth could have done--?"  A woman's voice says, "Dear Robin!  How soon they forget!"  Robin turns and shouts, "Batwoman?!"  While she is wearing the revised costume of The Batwoman of Earth-1, we are now introduced to her Earth-II counterpart. When Batwoman sees the figure of Batman, she says, "Oh my lord who--?"  that said, Batman kisses Batwoman on the cheek, much to her surprise.

The story, written by Alan Brennert, was filled with rich characterization from all involved. It was a great tale for nostalgists, featuring appearances of items from Batman's past. 

Reader's comments included, "great, I especially liked the Batman/Robin and Batman/Batwoman interplay."  Another wrote, "one of my favorite scenes was the meeting of Batman and Batwoman, each knowing their counterparts are deceased."  Today, this story is regarded as a classic and praise for it continues today.  The death of the Earth-1 Kathy Kane actually benefits this tale, making it her demise almost worth it.  I repeat, almost, worth it.

Batwoman again appeared in The Brave and the Bold #197, 1983, in a cameo role.  In another Alan Brennert script, "The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne", readers learned the details leading up to the marriage of Batman and Catwoman (Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle).  While Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson attend the wedding of one of Wayne's old girlfriend's Linda Page, The Scarecrow creates a panic in the crowd.  The Scarecrow, long an enemy of Batman, prompts both Bruce and Dick to get into costume.  Kathy Kane, also at the wedding, dons her costume to try and "quell the panic". The Batwoman is seen in her original costume and though she appears briefly, is a welcome addition to the story. 

In 1985 DC Comics decided to get rid of all there various Earth's and duplicate characters by creating the twelve part series, Crisis on Infinite Earths.  By the story's end, literally millions of people died; their earths being consumed by anti-matter.  Earth-II was pretty much gone, being merged with Earth-1 with only the modern versions of Batman, Robin and Superman (and their histories) remained.  Originally, Batwoman, Bat-Hound, Bat-Girl and Bat-Mite were all erased from Batman's history (though Bat-Mite has crept back in).  Betty Kane is now known as Flamebird and although Kathy Kane's death had been mentioned in an issue of Suicide Squad involving The Bronze Tiger, she was never Batwoman, just a friend of Batman's who ran a carnival. Through the years DC Comics has chosen to kill off a number of their once-renown heroines including, The Huntress (Helena Wayne) The original Black Canary, Supergirl,

The Spoiler (a purple garbed crimefighter who appeared in various Batman related stories), Kole, Lilth, both members of the Teen Titans; and Hawkwoman.  Barbara Gordon, was shot by the Joker.  No longer Batgirl, she now fights crime as the wheelchaired bound, Oracle.  Surely if Batwoman hadn't been killed off in 1979, DC Comics would have been rid of her by the end of the 1990s. Murdering women appears to be all the rage at DC Comics while the male heroes who have been killed, have a way of coming back.

Kathy Kane's role as Batwoman was revived in a bizarre way in Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Annual #6, 1996. Titled, "The Executioner's Song”, Kathy Kane is the daughter of a Batman of the future who learns that her father had been duped into executing innocent citizens.  Duped by a Commissioner who wanted a threat of terror to grip the citizens of this futuristic Gotham City, Kathy Kane takes on the Bat-Mantle from her late father as The Batwoman.  In a well written tale by Alan Grant, Kathy Kane retains her familiar looks and beauty but her costume as Batwoman consists of body armor with a bat-symbol on her breast. She wears a small bat shaped mask with her massive hair flowing out behind her. Her weapon of choice is a sword, which she uses with terrifying precision.  Her story tied in with the modern day Batman as her family adopted the symbol of the Bat upon hearing "tales of Gotham's greatest hero".  Still, when readers weighed in on this story, they mentioned the Batwoman of old, with her weapon's bag and the like.  One writer responded with, "True the very name Batwoman usually elicits wall to wall groans, but I like her.  I liked her spring-coiled powder puffs, her yellow costume and yes, her purse.  I like her niece, the Batgirl and the camaraderie she shared with Batman. This was the woman I envisioned Bruce marrying, not the trampy Catwoman.  My Kathy Kane didn't have really big hair, chain-mail armor, or an axe but when you really love a character, you get what you can and well, this Batwoman is cool!"

Batwoman, with weapon bag intact, wearing her original costume, did return - well, sort of, in The Kingdom: Planet Krypton#1, 1999.  In "Haunted", written by Mark Waid, young Rose D'Angelo becomes a waitress at a super hero theme restaurant called, Planet Krypton.  While locking up one night she is visited by what appears to be "ghosts".  Actually, there transparent figures of heroes and heroines not part of DC Comics current storylines.  For example, The Earth-II Robin, Superboy, Supergirl, Insect Queen, Diana Prince (a non-powered version of Wonder Woman) and a host of others appear to listen as Rose discusses her problems.  Michael Carter, the owner of the restaurant calls in Batman to investigate the ghostly visitors.  In doing so, Batman has an encounter with someone who should no longer exist? The Batwoman! Before being interrupted, Batman looks into the eyes of Batwoman, at first with a grim look on his face, which begins to turn tender as he says softly, "Kathy..?" Batman explains to Rose that the figures are not "Ghosts…they may however be unlikely as it sound, reflections of realities similar to our own, though divergent".  Rose asks, "Is that why you recognized that woman?" Batman replies sharply, "I don't know her.  It's impossible for me to know her." In The Kingdom #2, 1999, also written by Waid, readers learned Hypertime existed or "an infinite realm of parallel words".  This was the same thing DC Comics wanted to be rid of in 1985, but apparently it was back.  This means, of course, that in some Gotham City, Kathy Kane may still be wearing her Batwoman costume much to Batman's consternation. In 2000, both Batwoman and Bat-Girl appeared briefly, along with Supergirl in a parody of World’s Finest called World's Funnest.  In this comic, Bat-Mite and Superman's foe, Mr. Mxyzptk destroy the various versions of major DC comic characters. In 2004, DC Comics produced a box set of action figures featuring Batwoman, Bat-Girl, Bat-Mite and Bat-Hound.

Even more surprising in Batman: Dark Detective #2 (2005), Bruce Wayne gives Silver St. Cloud a tour of his trophy room in the Bat Cave.  Hanging on the wall is a portrait of Batwoman, reminiscent of the one Kathy gave Batman at the end of her first adventure.  Whether or not DC Comics wants present day readers to forget these characters appears to be a conflicted issue.

The Batwoman is still a well-remembered character to this day as reprints of her older stories continue to be published.  Though lumped in with the goofy days of Batman's adventures, she proved she could hold her own and save the life of her male counterpart and his sidekick. Though in love with Batman she did not let her affection for him, get in the way of the crimefighting which needed to be done.  Her weapons of choice were simply a reflection of her time and quite effective.  The Batwoman was a trailblazer for many of the heroines, which have followed in her footsteps.  Happy 50th Anniversary early, Kathy!

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