Detective Comics #860 variant cover
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
“The character of Batwoman I have a bizarre kind of involvement with because I designed her not for being Batwoman, but in fact to be a revised version of Batgirl. It would have been the original Batgirl, Barbara Gordon, who was intended to be revived from her injury. As many people are aware of, Barbara Gordon was put into a wheelchair by the Joker shooting her at one point ending her superhero career, but beginning her new career as a character called Oracle who helped out other superheroes in need with various communication connection and computer help.
"The Batwoman concept came about in DC as they were starting to create a bunch of new characters and they wanted to give a new birth for this old name to the superheroine from the late ‘50s early ‘60s. They had in mind that they wanted to something visually different than what it was originally, and they had this design submitted from me to try and revive Batgirl, and it sort of got drafted to this purpose. And this one painting here is the only painted illustration that I did of her for what was intended to be the first issue of her new ongoing title, which wound up being a cover for Detective Comics when she took over as the lead feature for that.
"What’s interesting for me, in this piece too, is that I was trying my damnedest to try and emulate some of the graphic sensibilities of Adam Hughes and doing a very poor job of it. Truthfully it’s a better pencil piece than it is a painted execution, but I was trying to do some of the soft rendering in the features of the face; rendering the area around the nose with only soft color and not sharp edge so that, say the darker, sharper areas of the blood red lipstick would hold out in contrast against the softer edges of the face and nose areas – something I would see him do with a lot of his painted renderings when he would go over his initial pen and ink work and then convert it through the computer into a painting. He would take these features and make these perfect executions of human features that I’ve still yet to figure out a way for that to really be incorporated in my work, and I won’t give up on experiments like this, but this is one of them.
Kate Kane is the Modern Age Batwoman presented here. Best known as the highest profile gay superhero, it is ironic that the original Batwoman was created in the 1950s to counter false rumors of Batman's sexuality.
When DC Comics wanted to update the Batwoman character from the 1950s, a redesign that Alex Ross had previously pitched for a reborn Batgirl was drafted to the cause. This cover illustration was Ross’s only painting of the character.