Batwoman’s Ode to the Lesbian Vampire

By
David Rondinelli

 

Batwoman has broken ground by being one of DC’s highest profile gay characters, an honor that has been rightfully earned. What could have been a female carbon cut out of her male predecessor, or a clone copy of the perky Batgirl, instead she has edged out a distinct identity in the New 52. Her series places her in a supernatural Gotham City, one where she squared off against a Mexican ghost of folklore, the Weeping Woman. There is the animated skeleton, Director Bones, leader of a secret government group called the D.E.O. and perhaps one of her greatest villains, Medusa – full scales and serpents alike.

Openly gay, new writer Marc Andreyko of Manhunter and the upcoming Wonder Woman ‘77 is taking Batwoman towards the “weird” fiction route by paying homage to the story of girl meets undead girl. DC’s new mini-event features many of their characters in special one-shot issues entitled Future’s End. This event thrusts many of its leading characters five years into the future, which sees a new beginning for Batwoman by displaying a brutal death-by-stake in her Future’s End issue.  Batwoman #35 puts her into space with a new eclectic team of misfits with their own superhuman abilities who are named the Unknowns.

One of Batwoman’s newest foe’s is Nocturna who was first introduced as one of Batman’s villains in Batman #363. However, in Batwoman #32, the sexy femme fatale is a vampire on a mission to suckle Kate Kane into the world of the living dead. This makes one wonder about how Batwoman’s title might be taking some inspiration, from a familiar literary archetype of the lesbian vampire.

A well-known early prototype for the sub-genre is Sheridan La Fanu’s gothic novella Carmilla. Other notable works would soon feature into film and Hollywood all ranging from the subtext of Dracula’s Daughter (1936) and of course the queer vampire classic The Hunger (1983), which takes the theme of lesbian vampires out of subtext and makes it a bright red bite to the throat.

Aside from Batwoman’s Future’s End issue, her vampire nature has yet to truly surface in the new story arc, but is sure to be a prevalent part of her character now. Many queer comic readers might find it an interesting concept to see Batwoman struggle with her newly found desire for, well, blood, a metaphor that is even older than the genre it is so prevalent in.

Despite it being hard to top some of Batwoman’s previous creative teams, Andreyko could make for some real human drama by showcasing Batwoman’s loss of her humanity. He could even choose to incorporate some of Anne Rice’s own homoerotic undertones by adding a level of the “tortured dead with a soul” to the newly turned Batwoman who was turned against her will.     

Andryko’s run might offer a bit of a cliché with the villain Nocturna’s introduction as the seductive vampire that seeks to woo Kate Kane over to the dark side of Gotham, but she does serve as a great villain to put Batwoman’s nature under re-construction. It would make for some fascinating story telling to see if Kate Kane would take on the role of the seductive vampire who might just transition into more of a villain who has to take a redemptive road through the dark gift.

One thing the Future’s End issue taught us is that Batwoman’s former foe and long lost sister has also lost her penchant for quoting Alice in Wonderland, and she has taken some of the focus off Batwoman. With Kate Kane being staked as well, here is pleading that her title won’t go the route of Dick Grayson or Donna Troy who both took up the mantels of their mentors by becoming the same symbol of justice, but without the familiar face under the mask. It’s anyone’s guess at this point, as the focus seems to be making Batwoman a team book, but it may be the wish of some readers for them to not lose focus on the central figure of Batwoman whose newly formed vampirism might get lost in the shuffle.

It would be cool to see Kate Kane get a new girlfriend who is of a supernatural persuasion that could plunge her into new underground territory in Gotham. This would give readers a new dimension to Gotham city and even create a Beauty and Beast like romance. It would even be cool to see a crossover between Batwoman and DC’s new title Gotham by Midnight, which is slated for late November.

The benefits of a crossover served Batwoman well when she teamed up with Wonder Woman to take on Medusa, and it might help incorporate Batwoman a bit more into the DC universe instead of making her such a rouge patron of the Bat family.    

It’s still a bit early to see, but vampires can be tricky territory. Done right they keep alive the always-fascinating allure of the undead; done wrong and well…well, we’ve all heard of Twilight. Even in comics, over at Marvel, Jubilee was turned into a vampire to an utterly ineffective downgrade to her character. Here’s hoping that Batwoman lands in the former rather than the latter, as Kate Kane still proves that she’s got staying power as one of DC’s breakout characters. Let’s see where she ends up as issue 36 is available now.