In 1967, at the behest of the producers of the classically camp sixties Batman show a new Superhero was born, Barbara (Babs) Gordon, better known as the feisty flame haired vigilante – Batgirl!
Bab’s creators – Julius Schwartz, William Dozier, and Carmine Infantino called for a female analogue to the Caped Crusader, who could be simultaneously introduced into both the comics and the popular television series. Technically though, Batgirl wasn’t a new character, she was a variant of the original Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff created persona from earlier that decade. The original Batgirl appeared in Batman #139 in April 1961, the niece of Kathy Kane aka Batwoman.
Batwoman and Batgirl were originally created to be romantic interests for Batman and Robin, as well as costumed crime-fighting associates. In 1964, Batman editor of the time Julius Schwartz erased Batwoman, Batgirl (and other supporting characters – Ace the Bathound and Bat-mite) from the timeline on the grounds that the characters were “too silly”. Both Batwoman and her niece Betty (now known as Bette) Kane eventually and triumphantly returned to the DC Comics timeline, with Kate Kane reprising her role as Batwoman (with a few fundamental changes to her character) though Bette returned not as Batgirl, but as Flamebird, a role that had previously been inhabited by several other DC creations that included Jimmy Olsen and Kara Zor-El.
Babs Gordon though has always been seen and celebrated as the Batgirl by her millions of adoring fans, debuting in Detective Comics # 359 in a story entitled “The Million Dollar Debut Of Batgirl” by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino. Babs was introduced as the daughter of long time Batman aide – Commissioner James Gordon, she retains a doctorate in library science, is employed as the head of the Gotham City Library and possesses a photographic memory and genius level intellect.
Aside from being a popular recurring character in many DC publications, Babs didn’t get her first starring role until the “Batman Family” comic series in 1975, where she took centre stage alongside other members of the bodacious Bat clan including original Robin, Dick Grayson.
Bab’s continued her well loved run as the masked avenger up until Alan Moore’s Eisner winning one-shot “The Killing Joke“, where, in a controversial sequence of events, she was shot through the spine by the genocidal jester himself, The Joker, ultimately causing paralysis from the waist down, with the paraplegia signalling the end of her crime-fighting career… or did it?
A subsequent storyline by John Ostrander and Kim Yale established Babs in a new role, as the wheelchair bound Oracle. Forming a formidable team of female Superheroes (that includes amongst its members – Black Canary and The Huntress), Babs became a behind the scenes leader and information collator as her Birds of Prey fought crime and corruption on a global scale. During this time two other ongoing versions of Batgirl took over the mantle – Cassandra Cain and then later Stephanie Brown, both had a modicum of success as the character.
In 2011, DC Comics heralded a comic wide reboot of their entire Universe of characters known as “The New 52“, the major revamp followed the “Flashpoint” paradox which brought extensive changes to their classic cadre of characters, including Batgirl/Oracle. Babs was eventually given back the use of her legs after receiving experimental surgery at a South African clinic and through rigorous physical rehabilitation. The decision to allow Babs to regain her mobility was seen by some fans as somewhat of a shame, as she had become one of the few very prominent disabled heroes in comics, but most fans were (myself included here) ecstatic to see the Batgirl prowling the rooftops of Gotham once more.
And so “Happy Birthday Babs” and here’s to another fifty years in your awe inspiring presence, oh and “hey DC Comics, how about some live action love for Babs huh? the only actress who has ever done her justice onscreen was the lovely and very much lamented, Yvonne Craig, I think it’s about time… Batgirl Returned!”
Welcome fellow agents of Precinct1313 to another episode of ‘The Week In Geek’ where we share our favourite Comic Book, Video-Game and Cult Movie news for your perusal and pleasure, so join us as we Sally Forth unto geekdom…
Kate Kane, better known by her alter ego, Batwoman, will be returning to her own solo series early next year DC have announced. The flame haired costumed crimefighter is currently prowling the streets of Gotham City alongside The Batman in Detective Comics, but fans have been vocal in their longing for Kate to return to her own ongoing solo series since her ‘New 52’ run ended with issue 40.
‘Batwoman: Rebirth’ will be written by Marguerite Bennett, with art by Steve Epting, and will follow Kate as she scours the planet for the monstrous villain behind the sale of a deadly toxic bio-weapon. Kate’s globetrotting tale will initially begin as a two part story arc in Detective Comics which will then segue into a one shot prologue ‘Batwoman #1’ before exploding into her own full blown series in April 2017.
Wonder Woman Named Honorary United Nations Ambassador…
Not content with being the Princess of a paradise island of Amazonian warriors, Themysciran Herald, Justice League member and one time God of War, it seems that Diana has also now accepted the task of being an Ambassador for the United Nations!
On October 21, the United Nations are due to announce the Themysciran Titan as it’s ‘Honorary Ambassador For The Empowerment Of Women And Girls’ The earth-shattering event will coincide with DC Comic’s very own ‘Wonder Woman Day’ and will take place at the UN’s headquarters in New York. The event serves to highlight the U.N. campaign for worldwide gender equality, and ‘Suffering Sappho’ we couldn’t think of a comic book character more suited to the role than Wondy!
William Moulton Marston Biopic Announced…
Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston was a fascinating individual, not only was he the architect of the world’s first ever female Superhero, he was also a Harvard trained psychologist and a successful inventor (one of a team who designed the original polygraph machine in fact!)
‘Professor Marston And The Wonder Women’ is the title of the currently in production biopic dedicated to honouring his achievements, from a script by Angela Robinson who will also be taking the directorial reins for the Sony Pictures drama. British actor Luke Evans has been cast as Marston, alongside Rebecca Hall and Bella Heathcote who will play Marston’s wife Elizabeth, and Olive Byrne (who lived with the couple in an extended relationship) respectively.
The announcement from Sony Pictures reads:
In a Superhero origin tale unlike any other, this is the true story of 1940’s Harvard psychologist Dr William Moulton Marston, the inventor of the lie detector and creator of the iconic Wonder Woman. Who defends his feminist Superhero against charges of ‘sexual perversity’ while at the same time maintaining a secret that could have destroyed him. Unknown to others, Marston’s inspiration for Wonder Woman was his wife Elizabeth Marston and their lover Olive Byrne, two empowered women in the field of psychology who defied convention by building a secret life together with Marston that rivalled the greatest of Superhero disguises.
Why not join us again next time friends for more ‘Week In Geek’
This week’s wonderfully wrought comic cover celebrates not only the absolutely astonishing artwork of Eber Ferreira & Eddy Barrows, but also the reversion of Detective Comics back to its original numbering. Detective Comics first appeared in 1937, but it was its twenty seventh issue that has become the most important of its seminal run, the first appearance of the Masked Manhunter himself – The Batman.
When DC Comics rebooted its Universe in 2011 with the ‘New 52’ they renumbered all of their issues back to #1’s. Before this back pedal of numbering, Detective had reached the almost incomparably immense issue #881, with the oncoming of DC’s recent ‘Rebirth’ which aims to reinsert the legacy of DC’s long and varied comic history, they have decided to revert the numbering of their two original and most popular comic books – Detective & Action Comics (which itself goes back to #957, tantalisingly close to issue #1,000!)
Detective Comics 934 finds the Batman attempting to bring together all of Gotham’s Guardians into one cohesive unit of crime-fighting badassery. A rebirth for the classic Bat-Family of old that sees the return of beloved characters like Stephanie Brown as the Spoiler and former Batgirl Cassandra Cain under her new identity of Orphan. Throw in the fiery haired vigilante Batwoman, wayward zealot Azrael and the Caped Crusader’s loyal sidekick Red Robin, and you end up with an almost unbeatable team of spandex clad heroes that will have the Supervillains of Gotham running for the proverbial hills!
Detective Comics will start shipping twice monthly from June 08, beginning with issue #934. Written by: James Tynion IV. Art and cover by: Eber Ferreira & Eddy Barrows. Variant cover by: Rafael Alburquerque.
Following hot on the heels of the 2010 epic – ‘Batwoman: Elegy’ comes yet another masterpiece in modern comic-book storytelling by talented artist/writer JH Williams III, in his monumental follow up – ‘Hydrology’. JH Williams was almost single handedly responsible for plucking, long forgotten female Superhero Batwoman out of an imposed limbo with his successful run on her modern reintegration back into the DC Universe.
Williams breathed new life into a character who had rarely been seen since the 1960’s, captivating the dedicated comic book fan with a newly resurrected member of the Bat-family, who, even though she shares many similar traits with her male counterpart, does indeed still feel a unique and fresh character, this is all thanks to Williams’ almost incomparable talent.
Hydrology collects together issues #0-5 of Kate’s ‘New 52’ run. JH Williams once again stuns us into near silence with his breathtaking artwork, the panel layouts are, as always, astounding, Williams loves to experiment with visually impressive splash pages. These stylistic image choices immerse the reader even further into the tale, Batwoman almost leaps out from the panels themselves, with the beautifully rendered colours also assisting achieve this overall impressive visual effect.
The story finds Batwoman investigating a disturbing case involving the mass disappearance of children across Gotham, which ultimately leads her to the supernatural entity known as La Llarona (The Weeping Woman). Throughout this harrowing investigation, Kate also finds time to re-train her cousin Bette in crime-fighting techniques, with the notion that the one time Superhero (Bette was once known as Flamebird, member of Teen Titans West) could become a valuable aid in her war on crime.
The poignant storyline also finds Kate dealing with dramatic social matters outside of her red and black clad vigilante persona. Her ongoing tangled love life with Detective Sawyer, recent estrangement from her father and unremitting feelings of loss from the tragic events surrounding her twin sister (read Batwoman: Elegy for the full story, fact fans). And just to make life even more complicated for our fiery haired heroine, she is the subject of an intense investigation by Agent Chase of the Department Of Extranormal Investigation, who has vowed to unmask her.
Williams constructs a striking, emotionally compelling and haunting tale that contrasts beautifully between a hardened and capable crimefighter and an emotionally confused young woman, with the visual style juxtaposing between a beautifully bold and effervescent painterly style when Kate becomes the Batwoman, and a simpler rather less embellished (yet no less gorgeous) technique when she is merely Kate Kane. This artistic approach speaks volumes about Kate’s feeling of worth in and out of the Bat suit, the vivid and bright colours during the Batwoman sequences really does emphasise her love of the freedom and anonymity that her alter ego allows her to have, giving her a sense of merit and standing in the world, plus helping to masque and cast aside her real life trauma.
JH Williams III once again shows why he is one of the most sought after artist/writers in the comic book medium. His visual style is almost unmatched, his writing is in equal measures intelligent, haunting and enthralling, realising characters that are both credible yet also otherworldly in their existence. Hypnotic, lavish and addictive, a must buy for fans and newcomers alike.
Precinct1313 Rating: 5 Flame Haired Vigilantes Out Of 5
DC Comics’ fantastic 1940’s stylised Bombshells series became available digitally this week, with the first issue beginning in the style of a classic WW2 newsreel. Depicting Batwoman, who has been a hit (literally) on the baseball field and around the streets of Gotham where she reins in crime as the resident masked vigilante, in a time before the Batman existed. In fact, the Batman may actually never exist in this alternate timeline as Batwoman is shown taking out Joe Chill just as he is about to gun down the Wayne family in crime alley, thus negating young Bruce Wayne’s need for his vengeance motivated alter ego.
An entertaining first issue, with the art by Marguerite Sauvage evoking the style and mood of comics from the 1940’s, I especially love the redesigned Batwoman costume worn by Kate Kane, a red and black baseball style outfit replete with mask to hide her anonymity on and off the field. This first issue mostly follows Batwoman’s career as masked crimefighter and Gotham’s star baseball player, though there is a brilliant cliffhanger ending that introduces another major DC character to the fold. The quirky writing of Marguerite Bennett genuinely elicits a feel of the era, and makes for a fun, enjoyable first issue. Currently available in digital format, with the physical copy on sale from August 12.
Precinct1313 Rating: 4 Battling Batwomen Out Of 5
After a long hiatus from the world of costumed crime-fighters, Batwoman triumphantly returned like the proverbial phoenix in 2006 in the pages of the weekly series ’52’. Batwoman was created by Bob Kane and Sheldon Moldoff in 1956 and made her debut in Detective Comics #233. There have been two notable versions of the character over the years beginning with the original Kathy Kane, the silver age variant. Kathy was created to be part of what was becoming known as The Batman Family and as a possible love interest for Bruce Wayne, but in 1964 following a restructure of the Batman universe, Kathy was removed altogether from bat-lore by new editor Julius Schwartz.
This August DC Comics will drop Bombshells on an unsuspecting public, with these amazing variant covers inspired by vintage World War 2 style artwork. This follows on from June 2014’s extremely popular Bombshell variant run, which saw the alternate cover comics become very scarce and highly sought after collectables, this time they are taking the design run even further, by adding character statues and an ongoing digital comic series entitled “DC Comics’ Bombshells”.
DC Bombshells #1 will follow the adventures of Batwoman, Supergirl and Wonder Woman as they take the fight to the axis of evil on the front lines of World War II. The first issue of DC Bombshells will be available digitally on August 12, and throughout August every major DC comic release will also ship with a variant version of the cover, and judging by how successful the previous run was, these will sell out extremely fast. So why not head on down to your nearest comic book emporium and reserve yourself a Bombshell today, you won’t regret it.
Welcome back comic-fans to our second installment of World’s finest comic book artists, this time focusing on the incredible talent of artist and writer JH Williams III. JH grew up in California and fell in love with the comic book medium for the first time at the age of eight years old, it was from this early age that he decided he wanted to become a creator of these fascinating worlds that he read on a weekly basis. Working hard to enter the arena of a comic book professional, his work was noticed by comic artist/writer Howard Chaykin who helped usher JH into the limelight.
JH started creating comics for the first time in 1991, the majority of his work has been for DC Comics, where he has worked on classic comics such as Batman, Superman, Starman and more. He had a critically acclaimed run as artist on Alan Moore’s Promethea for its 32 issue run, where he won a Harvey award for his art on the comic in 2006. More recently JH has been known for his re-introduction of DC’s classic Batwoman character, after the character was removed from DC lore in 1964. JH rebooted Batwoman back into DC mythos in 2006 and with the help of his sublime visuals and deep storytelling skills the character has gone from strength to strength ever since, becoming one of DC’s best selling and most well loved female Superheroes.
This massive run on Batwoman whom he has been involved with since 2006 has rewarded JH with many awards including an Eisner for best comic cover artist, best penciller and inker also a GLAAD award for most outstanding comic in 2010, plus three Eagle awards from the UK for best artist and writer in the comic book medium.
JH continues to work for DC Comics, where he is currently involved as artist in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series with the new Sandman: Overture.
Required reading recommendations are: Batwoman- Elegy, Batwoman- Hydrology and Promethea.
The Futures End saga continues through September for DC Comics, with special motion covers for each of the major characters debut issues, as seen above with the awesome Batwoman – Futures End #1.
Futures End is an epic, year long weekly series by Brian Azzarello, Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens. The series which began in May this year is set five years into the future, and follows Batman Beyond’s Terry McGinnis’ attempt to avert Brother Eye’s nefarious plans on Earth Prime, which is still reeling from the effects of the Multiversity war.
Damn you Kotobukiya for making such awesome statues and figures, because we just can’t help ourselves when it comes to the characters we love, we just have to buy them…and their latest reveal is something we have wanted for a very long time indeed, it has risen to the top of our most wanted list and is definitely the next addition to the Comic Crypt’s shelves.
Meet Batwoman, real name Kate Kane…Batwoman is one of our favourite female heroes of all time (number 5 in Precinct1313’s favourite comic-book characters). Batwoman was created by Bob Kane and Sheldon Moldoff in 1956, it was decided at the time that Batman needed a larger supporting cast of heroes in Gotham City and so Ace the Bathound, Batmite and Kathy Kane – Batwoman were given life in the pages of Detective Comics and Batman.
Kate was initially added to also introduce a love interest for Bruce Wayne, but by the mid 1960’s when DC editor Julius Schwartz took over the Batman titles he decided to remove as he called it, ‘non-essential characters’ from the Batman mythos and unfortunately one of the victims of his editorial spring cleaning was Batwoman. Then after close to forty years Batwoman returned, like the proverbial phoenix when she was re-introduced into the DC universe during the weekly comic-book series: 52.
This version of Kate was vastly different to her predecessor. Strong independent and ex-military, she was also no longer a mere love interest for Batman, much was made of her introduction as a lesbian character, DC got both good and bad press about this decision, ultimately it was Kate’s strength of character and the amazing writing and art which were both handled by the awesome JH Williams that made her comeback so successful for DC. She is now their second biggest selling female Superhero after the awesome Amazon…Wonder Woman.
The Kotobukiya Bishoujo statue of Batwoman is once again designed by the very talented Shunya Yamashita, standing 1/7 scale, approximately 10″ in height. The detailing is fantastic with the red and black gloss paintwork contrasting extremely well, her mask is removable so that you can see Kate’s beautiful pale features below. Kate stands with her hand outstretched and her red and black cape billowing behind her. No official release date has been given as yet, but Kotobukiya have said you can expect to see Kate adorning your local comic-book shop shelves sometime in early 2015, not sure we can wait that long!
NUMBER 2 is: The Batman.
Batman-real name Bruce Wayne was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, his first appearance was Detective comics#27 in May 1939. After his parents were brutally murdered in front of young Bruce’s eyes by Joe Chill, he swore an oath of vengeance against the criminals of his home..Gotham City. Spending his formative years training under the world’s greatest martial arts masters and learning other abilities such as ninjutsu and escapology, Bruce returned to Gotham to fight crime as the Batman.
Bruce was also born with a genius level intellect and was left a massive multi billion dollar fortune by his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne. Though he has no superpowers, Batman is quite possibly the most feared superhero in the DC universe…with the ability to seemingly appear and disappear at will, most criminals (and some superheroes) believe he is a supernatural creature of the night akin to a vampire. Using this reputation, his advanced skills and his ‘toys’, Batman with the help of other Gotham guardians (including Batgirl, Robin and Batwoman) manages to just about keep the streets of Gotham from overflowing in crime and supervillains.
Batman to date has the largest amount of appearances outside of comics than any other character, with movies and television shows dating back to the 1940’s. His popularity has never waned and he is as beloved today as when he was created seventy five years ago. This year is the year of the Bat, being his 75th anniversary and I am sure he will still be with us in another seventy five years!
As a side note, Batman was originally going to share the number one spot on this list, as we love this character so much and felt bad about putting him at number two. But as Christopher Lambert said in Highlander..’there can be only one!’, join us tomorrow friends to see who that is.
The top 5 begins with…
NUMBER 5 is: Batwoman.
Batwoman..real name Katherine Kane was created by Bob Kane and Sheldon Moldoff in 1956, her first appearance was in Detective comics#233. Throughout the next eight years Batwoman appeared alongside Batman regularly as a supporting character, until 1964 when editor Julie Schwartz took the reins of the various Batman titles and removed what he called ‘non-essential characters’, this included Ace the Bathound, Bat-mite and Batwoman. After a forty year absence, Batwoman was reintroduced into the DC universe in 2005, her history was changed and Kate Kane took up the fight as Batwoman once more.
The new version of Batwoman was different in every way to her silver age counterpart, the original was a rich socialite who was romantically involved with Batman, the Kate Kane of today is ex-military and is a lesbian. Much was made of the sexual orientation of the character which drew both good and bad press when she was reintroduced, with Vice-president of DC comics saying that they wanted to ‘introduce some diversity and better reflect modern society’. Like Batman, Kate has no superpowers and relies on her military training and combat expertise, she tends to deal with the supernatural side of crime in Gotham City. Since her reintroduction, the Batwoman comics have been a huge success and are some of the best written comics around today, Elegy volume one is required reading and cannot come more highly recommended!