NEW YORK – Years after she first emerged from the Batcave, Batwoman is coming out of the closet.
DC Comics is resurrecting the classic comic book character as a lesbian, unveiling the new Batwoman in July as part of an ongoing weekly series that began this year. The 5-foot-10 superhero comes with flowing red hair, knee-high red boots with spiked heels, and a form-fitting black outfit.
"We decided to give her a different point of view," explained Dan DiDio, vice president and executive editor at DC. "We wanted to make her a more unique personality than others in the Bat-family. That's one of the reasons we went in this direction."
The original Batwoman was started in 1956, and killed off in 1979. The new character will share the same name as her original alter ego, Kathy Kane. And the new Batwoman arrives with ties to others in the Gotham City world.
"She's a socialite from Gotham high society," DiDio said. "She has some past connection with Bruce Wayne. And she's also had a past love affair with one of our lead characters, Renee Montoya."
Montoya, in the "52" comic book series, is a former police detective. Wayne, of course, is Batman's true identity — but he has disappeared, along with Superman and Wonder Woman, leaving Gotham a more dangerous place.
The "52" series is a collaboration of four acclaimed writers, with one episode per week for one year. The comics will introduce other diverse characters as the story plays out.
"This is not just about having a gay character," DiDio said. "We're trying for overall diversity in the DC universe. We have strong African-American, Hispanic and Asian characters. We're trying to get a better cross-section of our readership and the world."
The outing of Batwoman created a furor of opinions on Web sites devoted to DC Comics. Opinions ranged from outrage to approval. Others took a more tongue-in-cheek approach to the announcement.
"Wouldn't ugly people as heroes be more groundbreaking?" asked one poster. "You know, 200-pound woman, man with horseshoe hair loss pattern, people with cold sores, etc.?"
DiDio asked that people wait until the new Batwoman's appearance in the series before they pass judgment.
"You know what? Judge us by the story and character we create," he said. "We are confident that we are telling a great story with a strong, complex character."
DiDio spent most of the morning fielding phone calls from media intrigued by the Batwoman reinvention.
"It's kind of weird," he said. "We had a feeling it would attract some attention, but we're a little surprised it did this much."