Friday

Batwoman Begins

The original Batwoman debuted in 1956, wearing a costume of red accessories over a bodysuit of that incomprehensible comic book color “dark yellow.” This peculiar chromatic phenomenon occurs when something is inked with a lot of heavy blacks, but then the highlights are colored yellow. I’ve never been able to quite figure out what this would really look like. Most yellow clothing is pretty bright, even in chiaroscuro lighting. I can only assume her costume was meant to be gold, as it was drawn by Alan Davis & Mark Farmer when Selina Kyle wore it in The Nail. Gold was not a color that the comic book printing process of the mid-20th century could handle, and anyway, Bob Kane’s staff of ‘ghost’ artists were never renowned for their photorealism.

While Batwoman occasionally came to the aid of Batman and Robin, she more often served as a damsel-in-distress for the villain du jour, as seen below.

This Batwoman was frequently depicted in “imaginary stories” as the wife of Bruce Wayne and mother of his child, Bruce Wayne, Jr., who grew up to be Robin II. More often than not, when she tried to join her husband in his crime-fighting crusade, disaster would follow, leading Batman to claim, “A woman’s place is in the home!”

Batwoman had a sidekick of her own, the original Bat-Girl, who borrowed her color scheme from Robin. In one “imaginary story,” she adopted her mentor’s costume and became Batwoman II (which is what she called herself, “Batwoman II”), although she didn’t have to suffer the indignity of having a “II” stitched to her chest like poor Batman II and Robin II.

Of course, Bat-Girl was in love with Robin, just as Batwoman was in love with Batman, although being a teenager, she was much more “gushy” than her suave elder partner. Interestingly, Batman and Robin knew the true identities of both Batwoman and Bat-Girl, but didn’t trust them with their own secrets.

Batwoman and Bat-Girl were essentially done away with in the mid-1960s when DC’s editors decided to take the Batman books in a new, more modern direction.


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