Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bette Kane

Bette Kane is a fictional character in the DC Comics Universe. She first appeared in the sixties as "Betty Kane", the Bat-Girl. Later, her name was modified to "Bette Kane" and she took on the mantle of Flamebird. The original Bat-Girl first appeared in Batman #139 (April 1961) as Betty Kane, the niece of Kathy Kane, also known as Batwoman. After discovering her aunt's dual identity, Betty convinced Batwoman to train her as her sidekick.

Batwoman and Bat-Girl were created to be romantic interests for Batman and Robin, respectively, as well as wannabe crime-fighting associates. Bat-Girl appeared seven times between 1961 and 1964, but then disappeared in 1964 (along with Batwoman, Ace the Bat-Hound, and Bat-Mite) when new Batman editor, Julius Schwartz, decided she and other characters were too silly. It has been suggested by scholars that the characters of Batwoman (in 1956) and Bat-Girl (in 1961) were introduced in part to refute allegations of homosexuality in Batman comics; specifically, the enduring claim that Batman and Robin were homosexuals.

Later in the 1970s Batwoman and Bat-Girl were revived and were regarded to have been inactive for several years. Bat-Girl became a member of the Teen Titans West. However, she only appeared four times in this era, at the end of the original run of the Teen Titans magazine.

In the post-Crisis DC Universe, the character known as Batwoman was erased from existence (although her alter ego, Kathy Kane, was revealed to have existed and was murdered by the League of Assassins). Batwoman's niece, Betty Kane, disappeared as well. Unlike her aunt, Betty's removal from history would not last long.

For a brief time in the 1970s, Betty had joined the west coast version of the Teen Titans under her Bat-Girl moniker. Though "Bat-Girl" does not exist in the post-Crisis universe, her team did; therefore, a new version of the character was necessary. In Secret Origins Annual #3 (1989), the official post-Crisis history of Titans West was revealed. Instead of Betty Kane's Bat-Girl, fans were introduced to a similar character called Mary Elizabeth "Bette" Kane, also known as Flamebird. This was an in-joke, as the team of "Nightwing and Flamebird" had a history in the Silver Age continuity as a pair of supporting characters in the Superman books.
Betty (now "Bette") Kane becomes Flamebird and teams up with her idol, Dick Grayson.

Bette was now a very driven and somewhat spoiled Los Angeles debutante and tennis prodigy. After seeing Robin on the news, Bette vowed that she would gain his attention and favor by becoming a masked adventurer herself. Training to Olympic-levels in gymnastics and martial arts, she created the identity of Flamebird (and a costume that resembled her pre-Crisis Bat-Girl identity) and joined Titans West in hopes of catching Robin's eye. While flattered, the driven young hero was not sure how to deal with her obsession and avoided her, much to her dismay. After briefly giving up her heroic persona, Bette found that neither winning tennis tournaments nor achieving perfect grades in school matched the rooftop thrills of the hero biz. She attempted several times to reunite the Titans West team, most notably after a journey into the afterlife with Hawk and Dove, but was unsuccessful. Dove noted that Bette was essentially a very lonely person, basically desperate for company and contact with others. Bette again gave up her obsession with the Titans until malfunctioning former Titan Victor Stone collected her, along with all former Titans everywhere, in an attempt to protect his soul from the Justice League. Hoping this would lead to a formal invitation to rejoin the team, Bette was crushed to learn they did not need (or want) her assistance.

A short time later, Gar "Beast Boy" Logan found himself alone in Los Angeles after the team neglected to ask him back. Landing himself in a bit of trouble by an impostor framing him for various crimes, Gar asked former teammate Bette for help. Having been recently chastised for her dedication (or lack thereof) to crime-fighting by Robin (now in his adult Nightwing identity), Flamebird seized the opportunity to better herself and her reputation, becoming more level-headed and boosting her crime-fighting arsenal. However, the design of her outfit as an adult has similarities to that of Dick Graysons's Nightwing outfit, with a red tunic and gold V running across the chest. After Bette helped Gar clear his name, his cousin Matt attempted one last recruitment drive for Titans West (dubbing the ill-fated team Titans L.A.). None of the recruits took the event seriously except for insane and uninvited former Titan Duela Dent, who crashed the party and was subdued by Bette. Around the same time, she and Beast Boy both served on an ad hoc Young Justice team, which she hoped would raise their public profiles; however, the team only lasted for one mission. Content to remain a hero on her own, Bette was unheard from until she was captured by a Brainiac-worshipping cult leader in Oregon and eventually rescued by Oracle's covert team of female operatives in Birds of Prey. She fought Doctor Light alongside the majority of heroes who had once been members of the Teen Titans.

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