- Title: Batwoman: Elegy
- Author: Greg Rucka
- Artist: J.H. Williams III
- Characters: Batwoman (Kate Kane)
- Publication Date: 2010
- Publisher: DC Comics
- Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 7/19/2016
Batwoman Elegy is an amazing book – amazing characterization, incredible art, and a new era for the Batman franchise. Kate Kane leaps off the page – strong and capable, with an excellent backstory and a good reason to put on the Bat Symbol and protect the innocents of Gotham. Yet the specific story told in this book – is also well told, with a beginning, a middle, and an end – which I’m not going to spoil.
Kate is the daughter of a military couple. She and her sister have constantly moved around the world as their parents are sent from duty-station to duty-station. Like many children who live a life of constant flux – Kate resents it. However, when she is twelve she, her twin sister, and her mother go out to celebrate – and are kidnapped. Only Kate is found and survives. However, this tragedy makes Kate stronger, and more determined to serve as her parents did. Now raised by her widowed father, Kate becomes stronger – and even enters West Point, where she excels. That is, until just before graduation when she is brought up on charges – of homosexuality. The colonel who asks her about it hints she should lie and deny the charges. Kate refuses to lie, to ignore the West Point cadet Honor Code, and admits who she is – and is summarily dishonorably discharged. Kate tells her father, who surprisingly accepts her – and praises her integrity. This is the stage that sends Kate on her journey.
However, unlike most origin stories which would present this information in order – or many modern Superhero movies that use flashbacks to tell the hero’s story, Elegy starts with Kate as Batwoman, not simply fighting anyone, but in a battle of both wits and brawn against Alice – a psychopath who puts the Joker to shame and is just as terrifying. The background is told in a series of vignettes at the back of the book. This approach means we meet Kate and see her in action, then we learn how she became the Batwoman. Interestingly, her father, Col. Kane is her “Alfred” – the one who develops her non-lethal weapons (using military contacts), and who built her suit.
Batwoman is a really great character, she’s modern and strong, and this book is an excellent introduction to her. The art is incredible – especially the unusual and jagged page layouts – which mirror Kate’s mask. This is an adult book but it is highly recommended.