"It's a good hit. I feel the blood filling my mouth. Somewhere along the line, someone taught her to throw a punch."
—Renee Montoya, 52, Week 7
Depending on whom you ask, Batwoman is either a Distaff Counterpart Batman introduced to his series to counteract the apparent subtext in his relationship with Robin, or an Affirmative Action Legacy introduced to The DCU to help bring some diversity to the cast. Both are accurate, just separated by a few decades (and countless Ret Cons).
The original Batwoman, Kathy Kane, was a character introduced to the DCU in 1956 to serve as a love interest for Bruce Wayne, who really was being accused by some people of being gay. The character first appeared in Detective Comics #233 (July, 1956). She was created by writer Edmond Hamilton, and artist Sheldon Moldoff. She lasted for about a decade, but was dropped (along with the first Bat-Girl, her niece Betty Kane) in 1964 in an attempt to prune down the Bat-Family, which was overly crowded with characters and had acquired a bit too much camp during The Interregnum. There was a halfhearted attempt to revive the character during the Bronze Age, but this came to an abrupt end when Kathy Kane was Killed Off for Real by Ra's Al Ghul's League of Assassins in Detective Comics #485 (August, 1979).
At the time DC was publishing stories set in two main Alternate Universes: Earth-One (with Silver Age characters) or Earth-Two (Golden Age characters and their heirs). Figuring that the familiar Batwoman was an Earth-One character, DC creators were still able to introduce an Earth-Two version. They did. This version of Batwoman/Kathy Kane first appeared in Brave and the Bold #182 (January, 1982). Besides a cameo appearance in #197 (April, 1983), this version was never reused. The Crisis on Infinite Earths was the finale of Earth-Two and most characters associated with it.
Post-Crisis continuity denied that Kathy Kane had ever been Batwoman. Apart from an In Name Only inclusion in Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman and a few other cameos over the years, Batwoman was largely absent for several decades and only returned to the comics themselves in 52, a weekly series started in 2006. The character had a cameo in issue #7 (June, 2006) and was fully introduced in subsequent issues. This Batwoman, Katherine "Kate" Kane, was introduced as a love interest and past girlfriend of Renee Montoya, one of the main characters of the series. Touted as the highest-profile gay superhero in the DCU, she drifted from comic to comic after her original appearance until being cast as the frontrunner for Detective Comics in 2009 with The Question (none other than Renee herself by this point) serving as the second feature. She was replaced as the frontrunner by Batman at the conclusion of her arc and received a self-titled solo series to continue her story, with a oneshot issue #0 in November 2010, but her series suffered more than one delay and eventually launched as part of the DC Universe's New 52 series of #1s in September 2011.
As with Batman himself, her portrayal has varied over the years, reaching varying points on the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism depending on the time of her writing (the campy Silver Age vs. the darker Modern Age) and the medium of the story (the DCAU film, though pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable, remained restricted in what it could show). How much of the history of her original appearance will carry over into her new continuity is being slowly revealed, with some information already contradicting her original history, while other points seem to match.
Of course, the irony of having a character introduced out of a fear of homosexuality becoming gay herself has been lost on no one.
Pre-Crisis Batwoman provides examples of:
- Back for the Dead/Stuffed in The Fridge: The original Batwoman, after years of barely appearing, was brought back for a story in which she was murdered by the League of Assassins to a) further motivate Batman to oppose that group, and b) give Bronze Tiger something to atone for (he did not kill Batwoman himself, but kept Batman busy long enough for the other assassins to succeed).
- The Chick: The original Batwoman, who used weapons based on women's cosmetics, often relied on "feminine intuition" instead of deductive reasoning and frequently turned into a Damsel in Distress for Batman to rescue.
- Damsel in Distress: She was frequently captured by bad guys back in the '50s.
- Distaff Counterpart: Batman, obviously.
- Elseworld/What If: Several of the Batwoman stories of the 1960s were imaginary stories written by Alfred, in which Batman and Batwoman had gotten married and had a son, Bruce Jr. Dick Grayson and Junior took over after their elders retired, fighting under the supranyms "Batman II" and "Robin II" (they even had "II" symbols on their chests). There was a "Son of the Joker", Batgirl became the new Batwoman, and almost inevitably Bruce would have to come out of retirement in each story...
- Name of Cain: Probably named after Batman creator Bob Kane.
- Of Corsets Sexy: The original Batwoman's first costume was a black corset over a yellow silk shirt, with yellow tights and cape. Later artists have interpreted her costume differently.
- Stay in the Kitchen: The original Batwoman's very first appearance plays like an aversion at first - sure, Kathy had feminine tools like a Utility Handbag, but she was still kind of badass, what with her sexist tools being pretty awesome (tear gas perfume?!), her Robin-esque circus background, and the fact that she saves Batman and Robin's butts roughly once every two pages. Then it switches to being played horrifically straight when Batman, despite said life-saving, treats her like a joke and then tracks her down to learn her secret identity so he can "convince her" that she can not be Batwoman because crime fighting is "too dangerous" for a girl, even the one who just saved his life five times. Then she listens to him and gives up her cape straight away, because, apparently women aren't cut out for the job?
Current Batwoman provides examples of:
- Action Girl: The reveal of her Post-Crisis incarnation is a full-page splash of her knocking out two mutated human/leopard/lion cultists at the same time, breaking one of their heads through a table while kicking the other one clear across the jaw.
- Adaptational Badass: The current Kate Kane, and the DCAU incarnation, are both far tougher than the original Kathy Kane.
- Affirmative Action Legacy: The new incarnation is Gay and Jewish.
- Alice Allusion: The Religion of Crime's second High Madame, who speaks entirely in Lewis Carroll quotes.
- Anachronic Order: Her conflict with the organization Medusa is divided into four individual stories (Kate, Maggie, Colonel Kane and Cameron Chase) that are focused on, and the time jumps back and forth between them.
- ...And Show It to You: The Religion of Crime is almost obsessed with tearing out Batwoman's still-beating heart. It is a prominent plot point in her introduction and her ongoing story.
- Angsty Surviving Twin: Kate has mourned the death of her twin sister Beth since she was a child and learns of Beth's actual survival only moments before she (accidentally) kills her herself.
- Anti-Hero: Kate decided to become a vigilante crime-fighter as an outlet and expression of her depression, listlessness and refusal to accept the decision of society to refuse her help.
- Art Shift: JH Williams III and Amy Reeder collaborated on Batwoman #0, with Williams doing the Batwoman scenes and Reeder doing the Kate scenes in divided page spreads until they finally come together at the end. In the series proper they are going to switch off art duties for different arcs.
- Author Appeal: Greg Rucka, the author who wrote her Post-Crisis reintroduction in 52 and her run on Detective Comics, is fond of writing strong, female characters and has worked on several comics that take a deep and mature look at homosexuality and femininity in confrontational and dramatic situations. Kate Kane combines all into one.
- Awesome but Impractical: The Batwoman costume originally had high heels, which are impossible to run and fight in, and Kate herself had long hair, which Batman points out is very easy to grab in a fight.
- Awesome Yet Practical: The comic writers and artists have explained that, when redesigning the Batwoman costume for her appearance in Detective Comics, they made a deliberate decision to have her appear more practical and realistic than she did when she first appeared in 52. Chief among their changes was the removal of high heels on her costume, pointing out the utter impossibility of leaping across rooftops in heels. They also dramatically cut her hair and replaced it with a wig, since even Batman points out that any Mook could grab her hair in a fight.
- Badass: She is stabbed in the heart in an occult ritual and then pulls out the knife and stabs her stabber in the back!
- Badass Normal: Her most prominent foes, the Religion of Crime, have henchmen that can mutate into large animalistic creatures that she fights with only normal strength and speed.
- Bat Signal: It was seeing the signal in the sky, along with Batman himself, that got Kate motivated to become a crime fighter.
- Beat Panel: After Kate reveals to her father that she is gay there is a single panel of him standing there, motionless, as he processes the revelation. He then explains that he still loves her and is proud of her.
- Being Good Sucks: Ever since her mother and twin sister were murdered, Kate Kane only had one dream, and that was to serve her country. When rumors began to circulate that she was gay she was given the opportunity to say it was a mistake and have the entire affair swept under the rug. She refuses, unwilling to compromise her personal integrity even for something this important, and subsequently loses the only dream she has.
- Big Damn Heroine: When The Question and Renee Montoya are about to be torn limb from limb by three mutated human/animal cultists, she appears in a full-page splash knocking out two of them at the same time, breaking one of their heads through a table while kicking the other one clear across the jaw.
- Bilingual Bonus:
- When Kate is looking over the costume her father made she describes its colors as "Gevurah". A part of Kabbalistic Judaism, gevurah is understood as God's mode of punishing the wicked and judging humanity in general. It is the foundation of stringency, absolute adherence to the letter of the law, and strict meting out of justice
- The first arc of the ongoing series features a watery ghost preying on members of Gotham's Hispanic population. Their scenes features heavy dialogue in Spanish, often with no translations provided.
- Blasting It Out of Their Hands: In climax of their fight, Batwoman has used her Grappling Hook Pistol to tie up Alice's legs. Alice, trying to escape, shoots the grappling hook pistol of Batwoman's hands with her own gun.
- Bow Ties Are Cool: She wears a feminine-tailored tuxedo, complete with bow-tie, to a Gotham socialite's ball.
- Bring It:
- Bumbling Sidekick: In the Post-Crisis continuity, Kate's cousin Bette is best known as a joke heroine and Teen Titans washout named Flamebird. After moving to Gotham, Bette was promptly kidnapped and ended up having to be rescued by Kate, after which Bette then asked Kate if she could be her sidekick. Kate has begun to mentor Bette, with heavy emphasis on Kate's military background as she trains Bette, but has also been told by Batman not to bring her on missions that are too dangerous due to the risks. In issue #4 of the main series, this turns out to have been warranted, since Bette tries to take on a thug on her own and gets severely beaten and stabbed.
- But Not Too Gay: Averted, where Kate is seen both kissing her girlfriends, in bed with Renee in a flashback, and in issue #4 of the ongoing series gets a very tastefully done scene where she and Maggie Sawyer sleep together for the first time.
- But Not Too White: Consciously averted in her redesign for Detective Comics, which gave her very pale skin that is described as a "vampire porcelain white". Greg Rucka revealed in an interview that they intentionally gave her the coloring of a real-life redhead in the main series, while her first appearance in 52 had played this trope straight.
- By the Hair: Batman himself tells Kate that long hair is a liability, and she replies with a smirk that she will "take it under advisement". Later scenes reveal that Kate's long hair in her Batwoman costume is actually a detachable wig, and when Alice tries to grab her hair she is distracted by the wig coming off long enough for Kate to escape.
- Call to Adventure:
- The Cameo: Dan Choi, known for his activism for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," appears in Detective Comics #859 at West Point as one of Kate's classmates, and he was consulted for the story in that issue.
- Clark Kenting: When Batman is following Kate Kane, attempting to discern if she and Batwoman are one and the same, he disguises himself with a wig and thinks about how "Clark" always said the simple disguises were the best.
- Coming Out Story: The flashback issues detailing Kate's evolution into Batwoman cover her expulsion from West Point under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and revealing to her father that she was gay. He supports her actions, proud that she kept her honor and integrity, but does ask what she is now going to do with her life.
- The Commissioner Gordon: As the step-daughter of a wealthy Gotham socialite, Kate actually knows the real James Gordon, but her own personal contact on the force is shaping up to be Captain Maggie Sawyer, head of the Major Crimes Unit. Maggie, however, is looking to arrest Batwoman because she is interfering in Maggie's work, even though she accepts Gotham vigilantes in general.
- Continuity Nod: When Batwoman recognizes that Alice is speaking in quotes from Alice's Adventures In Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, she points out that there is already an Alice-themed villain in Gotham. The Mad Hatter, an established Batman villain, bases his crimes and theme around the same-titled character from Alice's Adventures In Wonderland.
- Continuity Reboot: The Batwoman character introduced in 52, though still identified as Katherine Kane, bears little thematic resemblance to the original 1956 incarnation. Information from Batman, Inc. reveals that she is related to the Silver Age Batwoman and is, presumably, her niece, but the continued accuracy of this information is unknown after the 2011 DC Relaunch.
- Cop Girlfriend: In the ongoing series, Kate and Maggie Sawyer of the Gotham City Police Department begin dating after some flirting in the Detective Comics run. However, Maggie is unaware of Kate's vigilante activities and complains to her about Batwoman interfering in her case, despite accepting Gotham vigilantes in general.
- Creator Cameo: JH Williams III drew himself as a background character in issue #2 of the ongoing (he's the guy with the beard with his back to the camera).
- Cruel to Be Kind: After nearly being drowned by an enemy, and thinking about the dangers of the heroism lifestyle, Kate tries to drive away Bette by ridiculing her skills and motivation, criticizing her for playing a game when other heroes are driven by tragedy. Bette, however, just reclaims her Flamebird identity and starts operating solo, and in the next issue nearly gets beaten to death and stabbed by a thug.
- Cut Short: Batwoman's run as the headliner of Detective Comics managed to finish the last three-part mini-arc, but from one issue to the next it went from "featuring Batwoman" to "featuring Batman" without any warning. There was no notice that the current author and artist would likewise be leaving the series, and the change came right after her cousin made a pretty shocking revelation to Kate. Fortunately, the establishment of her ongoing series allowed the story to be continued after a years hiatus.
- Daddy's Girl: Her father was her main line of support, supplying her with information and gadgets as she began her career as Batwoman. Issue #0 of her solo series reveals that their relationship has been drastically altered after the revelations of Kate's childhood.
- Damsel in Distress:
- Save for a single instance (where she was tied up and gagged as part of a ritualistic sacrifice), the modern version has steered clear of this trope.
- Bette Kane plays this straight, culminating in issue #4 of the ongoing, where she is stabbed by a thug and tricked by Cameron Chase into revealing Kate's identity, since Chase convinces her that she is dying and asks her for a name so someone can be by her side as she "dies".
- A Date with Rosie Palms: After Maggie and Kate spend the night together, ending with the sun coming up, Maggie remarks that the lack of rest is okay since she keeps herself up all night anyway. After Kate's leering reaction, Maggie explains that recently she is too preoccupied with the dead children she is investigating to get any sleep.
- Death by Origin Story: Kate, her twin sister and her mother were kidnapped and held hostage when Kate was ten years old. When her father managed to rescue her, she left her cell and saw their bullet-ridden corpses.
- Desperately Looking for a Purpose In Life: A large section of her Detective Comics run covers the years after she was expelled from West Point, where the running theme (and commentary from friends and family) is that she is listless and undriven, and that she does not know what to do with her life.
- Destination Defenestration: In her re-introduction in 52, after she stops Renee Montoya from shooting an enemy, she throws the enemy out of the window.
- Distaff Counterpart: Batman, obviously. The "Cutter" arc of Detective Comics placed heavy emphasis on their parallels, with alternating pages (and sometimes even alternating panels) that followed both characters as they each trailed a different villain, going through the same motions, victories, and setbacks.
- Distracted by the Sexy: When Kate was just getting involved in crime-fighting, before she first donned the Batwoman costume, she was eavesdropping on several criminals in a bar as they were discussing their upcoming operation. During the conversation, one of the men questions the other, Jackson, on if he was paying attention or not. Jackson explains that he was "admiring the view" and is seen openly staring at Kate, then turns to the other man and dares him to say he was not having the exact same thoughts.
- Doesn't Like Guns: Played straight.
- Dramatic Irony: Present in a flashback scene in the Detective Comics run when Kate criticizes Renee for not being out at work and calls her a liar. Anyone who's read Gotham Central knows that Renee has a very valid reason for not being out, and that when she eventually is outed against her will it proves disastrous to both her professional and personal life. Considering that Greg Rucka wrote both stories this was almost certainly intentional.
- In Detective Comics #856, the alternating panels of Kate and Alice foreshadow the eventual reveal that they are twins.
- In issue #857, there is a Call Forward, as one flashback of Kate has her and Beth dressed in red and black and white and pink respectively, mirroring what they would wear as adults, as well as the copy of Alice in Wonderland on the floor of their room.
- Full Name Ultimatum: Both mother and father Kane.
"Katherine Rebecca Kane, you open this door right now... or so help me, this really will turn into your worst birthdays ever!"
- Gayngst: Flashbacks in Detective Comics reveal that Kate was originally enrolled at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and was well-respected and expected to achieve high rank, but was forced to resign after her homosexuality was revealed to her commanding officer. Though she was accepted by her father, who was glad she "kept [her] honor" instead of lying, she lost the only real goal she had and spent a long time drifting without desires or a determination to do anything with her life.
- Good-Looking Privates: Kate herself, back when she was at West Point, and see Hot Dad for Jacob Kane.
- Grappling Hook Pistol
- Green Eyed Red Head
- Green Eyes: Everyone in her close family has these, and by extension, so does Alice.
- Heroic Albino: Kate at least looks like an example, though it's more of an artistic choice than an actual character trait. Her skin is colored an extremely pale white (bordering on vampiric) that looks particularly striking and unusual on the page, but isn't treated as especially unusual or strange-looking In-Universe.
- Heroic Sacrifice: When Kate is forced to resign from the United States Military Academy at West Point, she is first given the option of denying the affair and having the event swept under the rug. She will not deny that she is gay, so she admits to the charge and is discharged. However, she has a third option, which is to say nothing (neither confirm or deny the accusation) which would result in an official investigation that could potentially rule that the "charges" were incorrect, allowing her to stay in the military without actually lying to a superior officer. Before Kate makes any definitive statement, she first asks if there is anybody else under investigation, and when she hears that nobody else has been accused she confesses. If she remained silent and there was an investigation, her girlfriend, Sophie Moore, could have been discovered as well. Kate accepted discharge, from the only dream she had in life, in order to keep her lover from being discovered.
- Hollywood Hype Machine: When her reintroduction in 52 was announced press response to the character was instantaneous and largely focused on her sexuality, commented upon and discussed even in media not normally connected or related to comic books or superheroes. DC Editor Dan DiDio claims to have been completely surprised and overwhelmed by the massive response to the character, saying he never expected even the announcement of her sexuality to be quite so momentous, and she began to be touted as the DCU's highest profile gay superhero. However, the press coverage was greatly out of proportion to her importance to the series and she ultimately went two years without a starring role in any series and only the occasional cameo in titles belonging to other characters and teams. It was not until she became the lead character in Detective Comics in 2009 that she became a regularly-appearing character, and in September 2011 got her own self-titled series.
- Honor Before Reason: When confronted by her commanding officer over accusations that she is gay, Kate is given the option of denying the charge and having the entire affair swept under the rug. However, she admits to the charge and resigns from the United States Military Academy at West Point, quoting the Cadet Honor Code as she does: "A cadet shall not lie, cheat or steal, nor suffer others to do so... I'm Gay." Her father, when she tells him what happened and why, says he is proud that she "kept [her] honor and [her] integrity."
- Hot Chick in a Badass Suit: Wears a tuxedo to a charity ball, and Maggie Sawyer later shows up wearing the same thing.
- Hot Dad: Issue #3 of the ongoing has Cameron Chase drop in on Jacob Kane while he's at the pool, and shows that despite being in his 50s or 60s Colonel Kane has aged very well.
- Internal Reveal: Bette's identity as Flamebird was revealed to the readers early in her arc, even earlier for those who were aware of the character in relation to the Teen Titans, but Kate only found out after she rescued Bette from a serial killer and Bette asked to be her sidekick. Then they were kicked off the series.
- Interplay of Sex and Violence: Issue #4 of the ongoing series features intertwined scenes of Bette being stabbed by a thug and Kate and Maggie making love.
- "Jump Off a Bridge" Rebuttal: Kate's dad uses this on her. "I'd be right behind [Alice]. You're such a Dad."
- Lady in Red: In her very first appearance in 52, she is dressed in a long, flowing red dress, and she wears the hell out of that dress.
- Lampshade Hanging: Characters will often discuss the rules governing their actions with one another.
- When Batwoman is interrogating a Mook, he points out that she can not threaten him since he knows she will not kill him; she informs him that, as a Technical Pacifist, that does not mean she can not hurt him.
- When talking to her father he emphasizes that Thou Shalt Not Kill, and refers to this as being covered under the "Batman rules".
- In a flashback to when she was just starting out, Kate herself was incredulous when her dad showed her the new costume and she saw that the boots had high-heels. He explained they were the only boots that he could find in red.
- Les Yay: She is gay in her latest incarnation.
- Lipstick Lesbian: As Renee Montoya says, "Kate Kane has the kind of beauty that leaves you breathless" when she appears for the first time. Her redesign for Detective Comics, as drawn by Williams, seems to deliberately play around with mixed butch and femme elements in her civilian wear, like wearing a tux with feminine hair and make-up, or a halter-necked top with a buttoned shirtfront and tie printed on the front.
- Long-Lost Relative: "You have our father's eyes." Alice, Kate's first major villain, is actually Beth, Kate's twin sister.
- Military Brat: Kate's father was a SpecOps trooper, and her mother an Intel officer.
- Military Superhero: She considers the Bat Signal a call to arms and her life as Batwoman her way to serve after being separated from the army.
- Mistaken for Cheating:
- Anna, who Kate was dating at the start of her run on Detective Comics, believed that Kate had been "tomcatting around" due to the fact that she clearly had been up all night and could not explain what she had been doing. Anna dumped her soon afterwards, pointing out that Kate was clearly using her as a rebound relationship.
- Kate accidentally stood Maggie Sawyer up at a concert when she was almost drowned fighting a villain, and when Maggie called her to see where she was Kate's cousin, Bette, answered the phone. When Maggie confronted Kate over the incident, she asked if Kate stood her up because of the woman on the phone, but Kate was able to quickly explain that it was her cousin.
- Mugging the Monster:
- Before she started dressing up like a bat and beating up thugs for fun, when Kate was leaving a bar she was approached by a mugger demanding her phone and wallet. Seeing as how at this point she was a recent student at West Point, top of her class, she beats him quite handily, and when Batman shows up the mugger is already unconscious.
- Batman himself "attacks" Kate Kane in order to test if she is the person behind the Batwoman mask, gauging not just her skills but also her attitude.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Kate did not know it then, and tried her best to avoid it, but by defeating her first primary villain she was actually killing her long-lost twin sister, who had been kidnapped as a child. She does not take this revelation well.
- Name of Cain: Probably named after Batman creator Bob Kane. The Post-Crisis Batwoman has been drawn into the inner workings of the Religion of Crime due to her presence at the heart of their prophecies regarding the "twice-named Daughter of Cain." Because of this, the religion has become somewhat preoccupied with her sacrifice.
- Never Found the Body: Alice, and previews heavily imply this will be followed up on in the ongoing.
- Odd-Shaped Panel: Williams uses these to make the distinction between Kate scenes and Batwoman scenes. The former are relatively normal, the latter... hoo boy.
- Only Mostly Dead: In her Batman and Robin appearance, she gets severely injured and decides to commit suicide and get Lazarus Pitted rather than risk paralysis.
- The Ophelia: Alice, who speaks, as Kate puts it, "fluent crazy" from Lewis Carroll and seemingly dies by drowning in the river.
- Painting the Medium: Alice speaks with black speech bubbles and white text, except for when she reveals who she is to Kate just before falling into the river.
- Parent with New Paramour: Kate is always quick to point out that Catherine is her stepmother, and while they seem to get along well enough Kate seems to enjoy seeing her squirm.
- Real Person Cameo: Dan Choi was consulted for the issue detailing Kate's discharge, and received both a credit on the cover and a cameo.
- Red and Black and Evil All Over: Badass Anti-Hero type costume colors of choice
- Relationship Upgrade: Kate Kane and Maggie Sawyer had some light flirting at a fundraiser during the Detective Comics run; as Batwoman she approached Captain Sawyer to feel out a professional relationship. In issue #1 of the ongoing, Kate arrives at Maggie's office to ask her on a date, which is seen in issue #2. In issue #4, they sleep together.
- Religion of Evil: Like Renee Montoya, it looks like her main antagonists belong to the Religion of Crime.
- Retcon: Kate Kane's conversation with Renee Montoya during her introduction in 52 revealed that she had been in the closet when she and Renee had dated, with the implication that she was still in the closet as part of her Secret Identity. However, her origin story as revealed in Detective Comics shows that she had come out before meeting Renee, and she tried to convince Renee to come out of the closet as well. Her appearance was also redesigned with the addition of several tattoos that were not present in her earlier appearance.
- The Reveal: Her intended reveal was an Unreveal that nobody planned on. She bursts to the rescue in what was supposed to be the first time anybody (either characters in the story or Real Life people reading the story) had ever seen her, except she had already been shown two issues prior. It was a miscommunication between the writers and the artists; she was supposed to be drawn in silhouette for that first appearance, leading the readers to believe it was Batman until her later appearance (and one of the characters does believe it to be Batman when she first arrives at her intended reveal), but the artist instead drew her in full detail.
- Revenge: When Kate's father discovers what she is doing and agrees to help her, he makes it very clear that she has to be doing this for the right reasons. If she is out for revenge then she has already lost, as nothing she does now will ever make up for what happened or bring anybody back. He emphasizes that the plan has to be help, to save even one life, or he will shut it down.
- Rich Bitch: Though Catherine recognizes the sentimental value attached to the relatively plain engagement ring that Kate's father gave to her , her friends complain that it is too plain and unworthy of her.
- Rich Idiot With No Day Job: Like her inspiration, Kate maintains this image, and before finding her purpose she really was one. In the first issue of her run in Detective Comics, her girlfriend breaks up with her because she thinks Kate is not responsible enough and has been "tomcatting around" when she has actually been fighting crime. When Batman begins to shadow Kate Kane in order to determine if she is the woman in the Batwoman costume she goes clubbing, apparently picking up random women, before he loses sight of her in a dark alley.
- Secret Identity: Beneath her mask, Batwoman is Katherine "Kate" Kane, member of a socialite family and spoiled layabout. The first arc of her ongoing series involves the Department of Extra-normal Operations investigating Batwoman to find out who she is under the mask; in issue #4, Cameron Chase discovers information that all but confirms that Kate is Batwoman.
- Secret Keeper: Her father, who discovered her hidden cache of military gear when she was just beginning to fight crime, and provides her with training and logistical support as she gradually becomes Batwoman.
- Secret Test of Character: In Batwoman #0, Bruce Wayne observes Kate to determine whether she really is Batwoman, and in the end decides that the best way is to pretend to be a mugger and see how she reacts.
- Sex for Solace: Anna, whom Kate was dating at the start of her run on Detective Comics, accuses Kate of sleeping around at night because of Kate's late-night escapades. However, though she is mistaken as to the cause of Kate's sleepless appearance, she also claims that Kate is using her as a rebound relationship and Kate never actually denies it.
- Shown Their Work: Dan Choi was consulted for the story set at West Point when Kate is dismissed from the academy, and it shows.
- Society Marches On: The policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", which required the discharge of any serving member of the US Military if they were discovered to be a homosexual and is an integral part of Kate Kane's evolution into Batwoman, was repealed by an act of the US Congress barely a year after Kate's origin was introduced in her run on Detective Comics. Word of God is that the repeal will be addressed in the story.
- So Proud of You: Kate's father was surprised when Kate explained why she had been separated from the army, but he only pauses long enough to consider what her story implies before confirming that he is proud of her for her actions.
Colonel Kane: "Then you kept your honor and integrity. I'm proud of you. Your mother would have been, too."
- Stay with Me Until I Die: Cruelly invoked in issue #4 of the ongoing, when Cameron Chase poses as a nurse and convinces Bette that she's dying from her injuries, and asks her to give her a name so someone can be with her, and Bette gives Kate's name. This allows Chase to all but confirm that Kate is Batwoman.
- Stealth Hi Bye:
- Batwoman has a tendency to just appear whenever she is making an entrance, with the first clue of her presence being the sound of her fist making a healthy thump, but when she leaves she visibly exits through a handy window, sometimes actually pausing long enough to say goodbye (or at least ask whoever is there not to mention her to the cops).
- Averted when she visits Doctor Kimball with blood samples from herself and Alice. The script specifies that she is not trying any ninja-tactics this time and is just waiting in plain view rather than lurking.
- Stood Up: Kate left Maggie waiting at the entrance to a concert when she was delayed by a fight as Batwoman. When the concert starts the event staff tell Maggie she should wait inside and leave Kate's ticket at the booth, but Maggie says she does not even want to see the show, she was only there for the date. When Maggie calls Kate to find out where she is, Bette answers the phone and Maggie assumes that is why Kate did not show up.
- Technical Pacifist: She has no qualms with roughing up her enemies, or even breaking the skull of a mutant fish-faced crocodile creature, but guns are right out. It is lampshaded in one of her earlier appearances, when she has come to the sudden rescue of Renee Montoya, who has a very nice energy weapon that proves to be very effective against her current foes. "I've got the shot, and just like the Batman, she doesn't let me take it."
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Referred to as "The Batman Rule" in-story. Like many other heroes, a violent pummeling is okay, but Batwoman will not actually go so far as to kill a foe, and even intervene when others are going use lethal force themselves (See Technical Pacifist above). However, she does have limits - when she learns that Abbot knew Alice was her sister the whole time, she threatens to kill him and the rest of his group if they come near her family ever again.
- Twin Switch: Flashbacks reveal that, in their childhood, Kate and Beth at least once changed places in school, fooling their teacher. Later, unintentionally, Beth was mistaken for Kate and Larry Quinones rushed up and declared his love.
- Twofer Token Minority: The newest incarnation is lesbian and Jewish, and they manage to work both angles into her stories logically as she celebrates a mixed Hanukkah/Christmas holiday season with her on-again, off-again girlfriend.
- Visual Pun: "Think I'm some victim? You don't know. I'm a soldier. I'm a Goddamn--" Next Panel: Batman.
- Will Not Tell a Lie:
Colonel Reyes: "You know what I need you to say."
- You Have to Have Jews: The Kane family itself is Jewish, with occasional mentions of the various holidays and occasional Biblical Hebrew references.
- Your Makeup Is Running: Alice wears massive amounts of makeup and eyeliner; it's perfect when she makes her first entrance, but runs dramatically when Batwoman hits her with tear gas shortly afterward. She keeps the dramatically-running look thereafter.
- it's his late wife's ring