DC vs. Marvel: Batwoman vs Spider-Woman
For as long as there have been comic books, there has been the feud between DC and Marvel. Both are heavy-hitting comic companies that continue to gain legions of fans every year. The purpose of this column is to take one DC persona and one Marvel persona of equal measure and popularity and pit them against each other to see who come out on top.
Kate Kane grew up the daughter of a wealthy army colonel. When she was young she was kidnapped by terrorists along with her mother and twin sister, both of whom did not make it through the ordeal. Kate later joined the army like her father but was expelled from West Point when they discovered that she was a lesbian. She had a famously tumultuous relationship with Gotham cop and future hero Question, Renee Montoya. As Batwoman, she was almost sacrificed and managed to kill the bad guy with the same knife he had stuck in her own chest. With the reboot, Batwoman is still stalking the streets of Gotham and fighting the Crime Syndicate, formerly run by her long-lost (and now deranged) sister.
Jessica Drew lived with her parents at a research facility where she was exposed to large amounts of uranium and subsequently became ill. Hoping to cure Jessica, her father injected her with an untested serum made with the blood of several uncommon species of spiders. She remained in a stasis for decades without aging and woke up with new powers and no memories. After an accident with her powers killed her boyfriend, Jessica sought refuge with Otto Vermis, leader of the terrorist movement Hydra. They trained her as an assassin but she refused to kill Nick Fury on a mission. After leaving Hydra she learned the truth of her past and worked as a bounty hunter and private investigator. She almost died during a botched time-traveling incident that left her without her powers. After some training, Jessica did get her powers back. The skrulls impersonated Jessica and in her image joined up with Hydra to act as a spy while infiltrating SHIELD. Even though the team eventually learned of the deception, most other superheroes were still suspicious of her but she eventually earned their trust and respect.
Both women have interesting and tumultuous backgrounds but Spider-woman’s extra 30 years have allowed for quite a bit more backstory.
Point: Spider Woman
Batwoman is a former military member and is well-equipped in the military protocol, hand-to-hand combat, surveillance, espionage, gymnastics, and gadgetry. Batwoman possesses no meta-human abilities.
As a result of the serum given to her from her father and various genetic experiments, Jessica has superhuman strength, speed, durability, stamina, agility, reflexes, flexibility, and hearing. She is also equipped with immunity to toxins, poisons, drugs, and radiation as well as the spider-like powers of wallcrawling, pheremone manipulation, and venom blasts. Jessica eventually achieved self-propelled flight. She is also a skilled martial artist, spy, and acrobat, as well as being multilingual.
While I certainly would never want to face off against Kate Kane in a back alley, Spiderwoman’s superhuman abilities give her the edge over Batwoman.
Point: Spider Woman
Batwoman has dealings with the Justice League, but mostly marches to the beat of her own drum. In the DC Reboot she turns down Batman’s offer to become a member of the official Bat family.
Spider Woman originally worked with HYDRA but ended up with the good guys while working for The Avengers and The New Avengers. Jessica has also been associated with S.W.O.R.D., Heroes for Hire, and the Lady Liberators.
Point: Spider Woman
Batwoman wears a black and red costume with a red wig and mask to hide her identity. In the DC Reboot, Batwoman gets a new costume made from special material that can deflect bullets and other weapons. She carries batarangs, a grappling hook and a bat-club and drives a Batcycle.
Jessica wears a red, yellow, and black costume with a red and black mask to conceal her identity. All of Jessica’s powers come from her own body but her costume does provide her with a web-like material to help her flight.
While Jessica’s costume is useful, Batwoman’s high-tech suit is the best of the best.
Batwoman represents a huge leap in LGBT representation in comics. She is an out-and-proud lesbian who isn’t fixed inside a stereotypical box. Her sexual orientation and romances come second to her crime-fighting, the way it would be with any straight superhero. Kate’s struggles under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” are sadly realistic and relatable for many readers. She’s also half-Jewish, something not usually discussed in comics.
Jessica’s character was formed from a rat-race between Marvel and Filmation. She character has an extensive history connected to HYDRA and the Skrull invasion and she had romances with Hawkeye and briefly with Spider-Man. She had her own cartoon in 1979 which only lasted 16 episodes. Although Spider Woman is popular with Marvel fans she is not very famous outside of those circles.
Although Spider-woman has had decidedly more exposure on television, it’s is Batwoman’s unique position as a front-runner in the LGBT movement and role-model for strong LGBT characters that gives her the edge in this category.
Like our previous match-ups, this one also turned out to be a close call. Both ladies are strong in heroics and character alike. In the end, Spiderwoman has almost 30 years on the newly created character Batwoman. Maybe in 20 years this battle would have went the other way, but for now, Jessica’s Drew’s rich history put her ahead of newbie Kate Kane and makes her the winner of this battle of DC vs Marvel.