Everyone knows Batman. He’s iconic. He’s the superhero. All that changed, however, at the end of a DC Comics crossover event called Final Crisis. Batman was apparently killed by the villain Darkseid. With Bruce Wayne gone, there was a void in Gotham City that needed to be filled. It was the perfect time for a new costumed vigilante to rise.
Kate Kane was an army brat. Her father, a high ranking military colonel, moved her around a lot as a child. She was with her father when he was stationed in Brussels during her twelfth birthday. It was there that she was kidnapped along with her sister and mother. Her father eventually came to rescue them. Kate was the only one to be rescued.
Fast-forward to several years later. Kate has dedicated herself body and soul to being the best soldier she can possibly be. She does this both for her father, who she adores and idolizes, and for herself. She never wants to be a victim again. She works her way to the top of her class at West Point becoming the executive officer for the school’s brigade.
Kate is surprised one morning when she is ordered to report to her commanding officer. She has to respond to an allegation made by another cadet concerning her conduct. Specifically the allegation that has been made is that she might be a homosexual. With a pained expression on her face she confirms, “I’m gay.” No longer able to lie about who she is, Kate leaves West Point.
Now without a purpose or future, Kate wanders through Gotham City squandering her new stepmother’s wealth. When she is attacked by a mugger she savagely defends herself. Knocked down, someone offers her a hand to get back on her feet. The Batman. Seeing the good that Batman can do, and the fear in the mugger’s eyes, Kate gets an idea.
After a few failed attempts, her father Jake discovers her operation. After unsuccessfully trying to talk her out of it, he instead is moved by the reasons behind her desire to help the citizens of Gotham City. He dedicates his off-hours to helping her train. He calls in favors with the military for supplies. He sends her around the world to learn what she needs to. He’s in.
And those are just the flashbacks.
Written by Greg Rucka and illustrated by J.H. Williams III, Batwoman: Elegy is a thrill ride of a graphic novel. Each panel within is its own beautiful work of art, creating a dark style noir world that the Batwoman is trying to save. This trade collects the original comic issues from Detective Comics #854-860. In seven pulse pounding “chapters” the mystery of the Batwoman is revealed. She’s dedicated to stopping the Religion of Crime, an evil cabal that has recently crowned a new “High Madame” in charge. After a past and almost-fatal run in with the Religion, Kate is dedicated to stopping them by any means necessary. The new High Madame, an insane woman modeled after Alice in Wonderland, knows more about Kate than she should. The reasons behind this are just shocking enough that you should check it out from your local library as soon as you possibly can. Or at least learn how to reserve the next available copy. I promise that after reading this, you’ll forget all about that other bat guy.