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Batwoman is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. In all of the character's incarnations, she is a wealthy heiress who becomes inspired by the superhero Batman and chooses, like him, to put her wealth and resources towards a campaign to fight crime as a masked vigilante in her home of Gotham City. The identity of Batwoman is shared by two heroines in mainstream DC publications; both women are named Katherine Kane, with the original Batwoman commonly referred to by her nickname Kathy and the modern incarnation going by the name Kate.
Batwoman was created by writer Edmond Hamilton and artist Sheldon Moldoff under the direction of editor Jack Schiff, as part of an ongoing effort to expand Batman's cast of supporting characters. Batwoman began appearing in DC Comics stories beginning with Detective Comics #233 (1956), in which she was introduced as a love interest for Batman in order to combat the allegations of Batman's homosexuality arising from the controversial book Seduction of the Innocent (1954). When Julius Schwartz became editor of the Batman-related comic books in 1964, he removed non-essential characters including Batwoman, Bat-Girl, Bat-Mite, and Bat-Hound. Later, the 1985 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths retroactively established that Batwoman had never existed.
After a long hiatus, Batwoman was reintroduced to DC continuity in 2006 in the seventh week of the publisher's year-long 52 weekly comic book. Reintroduced as Kate Kane, the modern Batwoman began operating in Gotham City in Batman's absence following the events of the company-wide crossover Infinite Crisis (2005). The modern Batwoman is written as being of Jewish descent and as a lesbian in an effort by DC editorial staff to diversify its publications and better connect to modern-day readership. Described as the highest-profile gay superhero to appear in stories published by DC, Batwoman's sexual orientation drew wide media attention following her reintroduction, as well as both praise and criticism from the general public.
From 2009–2010, the character replaced Batman as the lead in Detective Comics. She subsequently starred in the eponymous Batwoman monthly comic book as part of The New 52 relaunch. Following the cancellation of Batwoman, the character has been returned to Detective Comics in a leading role for the DC Rebirth event and received another solo series in 2017.