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DC Direct 52
by yo go re

Back in 1956, with Frederick Wertham's idiot ideas running rampant in the comic industry, DC introduced a new character to the Bat-books, to offset what Freddy called "a wish dream of two homosexuals living together." The character? Kathy Kane, Batwoman. She played the role of Bruce Wayne's girlfriend - at least, she wanted to be his girlfriend, which gave the book a female character it could point at to prove Bruce had grown-up relationships. In 1964, Batwoman was written out of the comics as part of editor Julius Schwartz's drive to do away with everything he deemed "silly," and she was eventually killed off before Crisis re-wrote everything.

But now Batwoman is back, as part of DC's much-maligned strive toward diversity. The name's the same, but pretty much everything else is different.

Kate Kane, real estate Mogul and Gotham City's most stunning socialite, has a secret identity. In the Dark Knight's absense, she protects the citizens of Gotham City as Batwoman.

Batwoman's new look was designed by Alex Ross, who combined a bit of Thrillkiller Batgirl with Batman Beyond (or is that Batgirl Beyond?) to create her costume. It's not a bad design, by any stretch, but it just seems rather... pedestrian. Especially for Ross. Maybe he's finally gotten over his "one giant logo as design element" phase. Even the color choice - red and black - seems like a first pass that never got revised.

Sam Greenwell's sculpt is decent. Since it's not based on Ross's original sketch, it's a bit more exaggerated. A very thin waist, a flat butt, all that. Now, don't misunderstand, it's not overdone; it's quite like traditional superhero art. Ross just drew her more like a real woman. Her hair is different than it was in the comics - wavy on the toy, straight in the books - but her mask has been slightly tweaked to avoid the look of a huge forehead.

Batwoman is a little bit light on articulation: she has a balljointed neck, balljointed shoulders, hinged elbows, peg hips and hinged knees. No wrists? No sort of swivels that allow you to turn her feet? How unimpresive. Her right leg got a bit warped in the packaging, too, so she doesn't want to stand for very long - but, as usual, DCD included a base to help keep her standing. Still, between that and the high heels, it looks like she's about to roll her ankle, which would certainly put a damper on the crimefighting career.

In addition to the 52 base, Kate has a free-floating (non-removable) utility belt, and a black batarang that she can actually hold. There's a nigh-undetectable notch in her balled right hand, and the tip of the batarang fits right in there. Incidentally, the batarang is the same mold used for Thrillkiller Batgirl's accessory - it's just molded in black instead of gold. Still, it's nice.

The paint apps are all very nice, very crisp, but some of the color choices are odd. The suit is gloss black, so it looks like vinyl, and the reds have a hint of orange that keep them from flattening out the figure. Her hair is the wrong shade, though - it's either too light or too brown, depending on what art you're looking at - and the silver eyes of the mask end up looking small and beady because the matte black of her mask tends to close in on it.

Batwoman, so far, hasn't had a lot to do in the comics. She showed up to patrol Gotham City while Batman was off on his round-the-world cruise, got stabbed in the chest and has been convalescing ever since. She hasn't even gotten a proper origin story yet. Time will tell whether any writers find something to do with her, but for now this figure will certainly be a nice addition to the ever-expanding Batman family.

-- 05/24/07

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