Why the lesbian Batwoman no longer wears heels

Newsarama.com has posted a great new interview with graphic artist J.H. Williams who is working on the newest Detective Comics book featuring Batwoman, coming out next month. Williams told the site about his changing of her appearance from past depictions, on both the superhero side and as her normal life alter-ego Kate Kane.

On her new look:

I definitely felt she needed to make more sense visually. The overall look is still there but we removed aspects that now let’s you take the character more seriously. There was a bit of hokiness (is that a word?) to her before. She needed to be tough as nails.

Batwoman is definitely not hokey, and I’m glad that they are making attempts to give her a more serious look. Sometimes women superheroes can be stuck in slutty-esque outfits to appeal to male readers; nevermind that they would be completely too difficult to fight crime in for the woman wearing them.

On why they took away the high heels:

Heels are fine and all in the right context but that didn’t fit the context that [writer] Greg [Rucka] and I wanted for this character. It was also important to us to present a character that would appeal to both men and women. I don’t think the previous aspect of her really did that. It weakened her in terms of how much you could believe in her. It was not changed to dampen her sexiness in way, but rather for her to have a different kind of sexiness. A tough as nails attitude that anyone could believe in, but no one in their right mind is going to jump from rooftops with agility wearing high heels.

It’s so true. I can barely walk in my heels sometimes, so I know Batwoman would not be strapping on stilettos when she needs to be quick on her feet. Besides, we all know she’d be wearing some “sensible” shoes.

On developing Kate Kane as a character:

When Greg and I had conversations about who she is we knew we wanted something more than what was already there. We knew that she has a military background and money and is lesbian. But what else is she? What are her personality traits? What are the little things that make up the whole? Interests and hobbies, who are her friends? All of this plays into her appearance in her “civilian” life. I’ve read some criticisms that the look presented in the character sheet doesn’t quite match up to the sources I mention on that sheet. However, all of the clothing is researched.

The main thing is that I’ve made her look and attitude a mash up of many different things and this will reflect in her sense of style. I really wanted to avoid stereotypes in terms of cultural influences on her appearance, to take away the cartoonish aspects of stereotypes. She is more based on real people in that her look is a culmination of all the experiences and interests she has had in life up to this point. This is something we all do in real life in many ways. It’s too easy to make a character fit into one category or another visually with what influences them. But that isn’t good enough, people are more complex than that and that is what we want for her, to be a fully rounded individual with many different inspirations in her life, like the rest of us.

Based on real people? So she’s actually going to be something more than a figment of male imagination? Seriously, I like the way this artist thinks.

On Batwoman being a lesbian:

In some ways that is too be expected when considering that detail. But really, it is a non-issue. There is no logical reason for a lesbian character to not be a lead in a heroic role. The characters we read and create and enjoy as a culture are meant to be reflections of who we are as people, and people are very diverse. This subject should not matter whether or not her character has merit. I think it’s great that we are doing this in the face of societal expectations.

I find the “controversy” thing is silly really. There have always been gay people and there always will be. Of course there should be gay heroes, just as there should be black, Hispanic, Asian, short, tall, fat, skinny, all creeds. I feel that there is a bit of a childish attitude when it comes down to who people are sexually, that “Oh, did you know so and so are gay?” attitude. In the big scheme of the world it doesn’t matter. The only thing that does is how we treat each other.

Batwoman is certainly a hero, first and foremost. Being a gay female superhero makes her even cooler to me, but nonetheless, she is a hero without any other description needed.

I can’t wait to see Detective Comics #854 in June, with Batwoman as the star superhero. I feel like it will make me proud, based on what her artist has to say about her being such a strong and powerful woman, even in her “normal” life. She’s a kick ass gay woman, and she doesn’t need heels to show she’s a power lesbian.

Are you psyched on the new version of Batwoman?