Welcome again to the newest installment of I Love a Woman Who Can Kick My Ass. Previously, we took a look at Marvel’s X-23 and Dynamite’s Red Sonja. Today it’s DC’s turn and we’re going straight for the big guns. No, not Power. Girl. Also get your minds out of the gutter. Today we’re going to talk about Batwoman.
Let me go ahead and get this first thing off my chest and out of the way. Batwoman, a.k.a. Kate Kane, is not and was not a soldier. She was a cadet, and despite what DC says over and over in their comics they are not the same thing. Kate never graduated from West Point and as such never received her commission to become a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army. To be perfectly blunt and honestly kinda mean about it, in the real world she never got past the point of being a college kid playing Army and all the Special Forces training in the world will never be able to change that.
To continue on with an uppercut knockout to her pride, the whole reason Kate never made it is because she quite simply couldn’t be bothered to do one of two rather easy things. All she had to do was either keep herself from engaging in a relationship during her time at West Point, which by the way is what we in the Army call “the right answer” as she was there to learn to be an officer in the US Army not hook up and party. Or failing that, be discreet about her relationship.
Kissing someone in the middle of the day right in front of the Cadet Honor Code monument, which even having not been to West Point myself I can guarantee you would be a high traffic area, does not fit any definition of discreet. You see, the whole system of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” revolved around the fact that no matter what her preferences or personality, no one was allowed to ask her “Are you gay?” as long as she kept from doing something that would provide irrefutable proof that she was so. Like open mouth kissing another woman in the middle of public. So when you really look at it, Kate ignored the rules that she agreed to live under, and in doing so shot herself in the foot. Sorry Batwoman fans I know that my statements are harsh, but it’s the truth.
However, Kate’s examples of bad judgment also lead us into the good parts of her character and the reason why despite all what I just said, if Kate had indeed made it and got her commission I would have been proud to call her “Sister-In-Arms”. When confronted with her indiscretion Kate kept true to the Seven Army Values, specifically the value Integrity. She was presented with the choice to lie in order to keep her career and instead chose to keep her honor by owning her choices and accepting the consequences. I can think of very few things in this world more admirable than this.
To own one’s mistakes is one of, if not the hardest thing for people to do. Nobody likes to stand in front of others and admit “I screwed the pooch. I $@&#-ed this one up.” and that is precisely why it is such an important part of the Army values. Mistakes can be rectified, they can be recovered from, but before that can happen who made them has to admit that they made the mistake in the first place. Only after that has happened, after the mistake has been acknowledged and owned by someone can the recovery process begin.
After being kicked out of West Point and losing her chance to serve in the Army forever (or so it seemed at the time, why hello there repeal of DADT in 2010!) Kate moved back to Gotham and pretty much just lived the socialite life for a while. She didn’t know what to do with herself anymore. She came from a soldier family, and now having been barred from following that tradition she had no direction. That is until one night she walked out of a bar and was attacked by a mugger.
She quickly disarmed and dispatched the man before instincts kicked in and she realized she was being watched from behind. She whirled around to find the Batman standing there and ending up falling in surprise. Without any words, Batman gave her a hand to get back to her feet and then used his grapnel gun to leave. Kate watched him disappear into the night and then saw the bat-signal lit in the sky. From that moment, Kate knew exactly what she was going to do with her life. As she would later tell her father when he confronted her about her vigilante activities, “I finally found a way to serve.”
Hooah, cadet, Hooah.
Following this instance, Kate devoted herself wholeheartedly to following Batman’s example as best she could. It took an incredible amount of drive, dedication, intelligence, and skill for Kate to become the brigade XO (executive officer, basically the second-in-command) for her class year in West Point. She had to prove that she was without a doubt one of the absolute best out of over 1,000 individuals, and that she possessed the soldiering skills and leadership qualities to lead those other 1,000 people. Now those same qualities were put forward in support of the bat-family’s crusade against crime.
The unfortunate part is that so was Kate’s impulsiveness. She began her crime-fighting career by stealing a large amount of non-lethal military equipment and then trolling seedy bars in order to pick up information on illegal activities that she could then later disrupt. Our first time seeing Kate in her role as a vigilante is as she uses copious amounts of tear gas in order to throw a group of gun smugglers into disarray and beat the crap out of them with a baton. Discounting for a moment the bad idea of stealing from the US Army in the first place, the strategy she used is also full of rookie holes that I could list, the worst being that she had absolutely no form of backup. Even Batman had Alfred to act as mission control in the beginning of his crusade.
It’s lucky then that it was her father that caught Kate after that bust-up she brought down on those smugglers. Colonel Jacob Kane was quick to call his daughter out on her recklessness and attempted to shut her operation down. After Kate had managed to say her piece though, he realized that she was not going to turn away from this. After years of preparing herself for service in the Army only to be told that she couldn’t, Kate was never going to back down from this call to arms that she had found. Colonel Kane relented, and instead became the Alfred to Kate’s Batwoman. He made sure Kate got the best training, education, and equipment that money could buy. If Kate was going to do this, he demanded that she do it right. Two years of intensive training later, and Batwoman was born in earnest.
Since then, Batwoman has been an unstoppable force on the war on crime in Gotham. She’s fought everything from two bit gangsters to outright monsters both psychological and physical. Depending on how you look at DC continuity these days, she not only survived getting stabbed in the heart but also immediately pulled the knife back out of her chest and paid her stabber back in kind. She’s rougher around the edges than Batman, not quite as skilled as him but she makes up for it by being even more brutally efficient in taking enemies down. Also unlike Batman who seems to be compelled at times to attempt to save everyone around him to include the villain, Kate has shown fewer compunctions against letting an enemy destroy themselves or taking them out herself if it means saving innocent lives.
The US Army of the DCU lost a wonderful resource when DoD policy forced the separation of Cadet Kate “Candy” Kane. Their loss however, was Gotham’s gain and it led to the emergence of a new legend within a city that desperately needed every bit of help it could get. She is relentless, unstoppable, and uncompromising in her crusade against crime. She is the Batwoman. I can salute that.
Once again to close us out, I bring up the next part of my quest to read about the Lost Batgirls. The story of No Man’s Land has been drawing me in, and in volume 2 we finally get an introduction to Cassandra Cain. The first third of the book is dedicated to doing exactly that. We’re introduced to Cassandra as she works as a courier for Barbara within Gotham. We also quickly learn that she cannot speak. She seems to understand others well enough but her own vocabulary is limited to a few words and gestures. Despite this, she is quickly shown to be a credible threat in hand-to-hand combat and possess a quick thinking mind as she helps Batman stop her father David Cain from assassinating Commissioner Gordon. I feel that the series of events that happens in order to get the Huntress out of the Batgirl costume and Cassandra into it are a little ham-fisted, but seeing as I don’t know much about the character and Barbara Gordon appeared to really dislike her I’m left to assume that there are reasons for this that I’m not privy to. My one real gripe in all of this is that after finally putting the costume on and going out as Batgirl, Cassandra’s first mission as such is to team up with Jean-Paul Valley. Ugh, could somebody please let me know when I can look forward to not seeing this guy anymore?