The Mystery Woman of BATMAN: YEAR ONE

Sometimes my mind goes to strange places.

I woke up this morning thinking about one of the unsung characters of Batman: Year One. Someone who appears in all of two panels, has no dialogue, never gets a close up, and, as far as I know, has never even been mentioned again in the 30 years since the book came out. Let’s take a look at her one and only appearance, from page eight of Batman #407, the May 1987 issue, the fourth part of Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s Batman: Year One, where Police Lieutenant Jim Gordon goes to Wayne Manor to question Bruce Wayne about his possibly being Batman:

Batman Year One Frank Miller David Mazzucchelli
Gordon also brings his pregnant wife along. Like you do when you’re on official police business.

Did you see her? Let’s take a closer look:

In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m talking about this woman:

Batman Year One Frank Miller David Mazzucchelli

Her. The pink-haired, drunken floozy just lounging around in a teddy at Wayne Manor. That’s going the extra mile just to establish you’re not Batman, right? Having a random woman on hand just to corroborate your cover story?

Batman Year One Frank Miller David Mazzuchelli

I don’t know why this popped into my head all of a sudden. Maybe the death of Hugh Hefner last Wednesday just got me to thinking about bathrobed billionaires and the bimbos who love them. But I wonder about this woman. I have questions about her.

It’s strange that we still don’t know much about her, since, in the three decades since Batman: Year One has come out, pretty much everyone in it has come back in one form or another. Selina Kyle’s sidekick Holly came back as a regular supporting character in Catwoman. Sarah Essen returned to the batbooks and became Jim Gordon’s second wife. Gordon’s first wife, Barbara, has come back in a few different versions, most notably in the New 52 Batgirl and on the TV show Gotham. The Roman and his nephew Johnny were both featured in The Long Halloween. Detective Flass, Commissioner Loeb and SWAT Team Commander Branden all appeared in the Long Halloween sequel Dark Victory. Heck, Loeb even made it to the big screen in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, albeit as a character more reminiscent of Commissioner Michael Adkins from the early-2000s batbooks than Year One‘s Commissioner Loeb.

But this woman… nada. 30 years later, we still have no idea of her name, her occupation, her true relationship with Bruce Wayne, or even if Bruce is telling the truth when he says that she doesn’t speak English. That’s weird, considering what a big part she’s playing in throwing off Gordon’s suspicion towards Bruce Wayne.

Who is this woman? Where did she come from? And why are Bruce and Alfred trusting her with such a major part of Batman’s cover story?

Is she a drunken partygoer who spent the night at Wayne Manor, delighted to finally be getting some alone time with Bruce? Is she an actress that Bruce and Alfred hired just for the occasion? If so, where did they find her? Did they place an ad in Backstage and hold auditions? What did the sides for THAT job read like? “WANTED: Attractive young woman, age 25-30, to be fake hookup for reclusive billionaire looking to preserve image as glamorous playboy. Generous pay. Discretion a must.”

And how do you distinguish it from the ad that Tom Cruise runs every Wednesday?

Or did Bruce actually get this woman liquored up and sleep with her just so that he could have a cover story for Gordon? If so, that’s both A): Kinda gross and B): Incredibly committed. Heck, in Batman #404, Bruce simply makes sure he’s spotted at the same hotel as a “visiting Hollywood sex queen” and lets the rumor mill take care of the rest. That certainly seems more rational, less skanky, and just downright less time-consuming than hooking up with a different woman every single time you need an alibi.

But again, where did they find her? Is Alfred driving downtown to the East End and procuring prostitutes just so Master Bruce can have an alibi? Or do Bruce and Alfred have an Adam West style Instantly-Hydrating Bat-Bimbo Alibi Supplier in the basement?

Batman 1966 movie
After all, if Batman can rehydrate the entire United Nations with a garden hose, a single woman in lingerie should be no problem.

Janice MuppetsShe doesn’t appear to be drinking from the same liquor bottle as Bruce, so I guess she’s supposed to be genuinely drunk as opposed to Bruce’s fake drunk, but who knows? Maybe she’s faking too and drinking iced tea instead of bourbon.

Honestly, I’m not even sure what ethnicity this woman is supposed to be. She never speaks on panel, so we have no idea what sort of accent she might have or what languages she’s fluent in. And that greyish brown skin and pink hair are rather ambiguous, racially. This gets even more confusing in the various trade paperback reprintings of B:YO, where she’s recolored to have darker skin and bleached blonde hair, making her look more or less like Janice from the Muppets.

Batman Year One Frank Miller David Mazzucchelli
…Things got WEIRD after the Electric Mayhem broke up, you guys.

And here’s the weirdest thing: Where does this woman GO after the interview? Neither Bruce nor Alfred so much as mentions her after the Gordons leave. Instead, we get Alfred snarking about Bruce’s acting skills, fretting about putting club soda in champagne bottles, and mentioning a flying man in Metropolis. We also get a look at Bruce’s celebratory “I-Just-Fooled-The-Police” Hot Pink Bathrobe.

Batman Year One Frank Miller David Mazzucchelli
Which is FABULOUS, by the way.

This woman disappears so thoroughly between pages eight and nine that I’m starting to suspect that she is, in fact, a ninja. (It’s a Frank Miller comic, so I’m assuming she’s got to be either a hooker or a ninja. Possibly both.) Could she be the ninja who trained Bruce? There’s a dearth of female trainers in Batman’s backstory, so Ethnically Ambiguous Ninja Bimbo Lady would add some welcome diversity to his teachers. (Assuming that she’s not just the New Jersey Tanning Mom, but it’s hard to tell.)

Who knows? Maybe the Gordons played Good Samaritan and decided to give her a ride home in their backseat.

Batman Year One Frank Miller David Mazzucchelli
In which case… MOST AWKWARD CAR RIDE EVER.

The Batman Wiki tells me that in the animated Batman: Year One movie, it’s made explicit that the woman is just an actress Bruce paid off to be a pretend conquest as a cover for his Batmaning. That’s certainly the most plausible explanation, but it’s also the least fun, and you don’t get a 1000-word column out of plausible explanations. I couldn’t find the scene in question online, but I did find this clip Bruce Wayne flashing the goods at Barbara Gordon in front of her husband. That’s something, I guess.

So I’m not taking that explanation as applying to the comics canon. As far as I’m concerned, she’s still a mystery.

Let’s review what we know about this woman so far. I’m not sure if we really have enough for a Who’s Who entry for her, but Hugh Hefner’s recent death reminds me that we have another, more appropriate format for Bruce Wayne’s date, one that reflects all the character development she received:

Batman Year One Playmate Data Sheet Atomic Junk Shop
Thanks to Lancelot Falk for his assistance in creating this image!

I swear, there’s a miniseries about this woman just waiting to be written.

Call me, DC. We can make this happen.

See you next week.

 

11 Comments

  1. Edo Bosnar

    Heh, this post reminds me of the recent coverage of Batman: Year One on the Knightcast podcast over at the Fire & Water network. While they didn’t deal with the pink-haired (or bleach blonde) mystery ninja and/or hooker, the hosts, Ryan Daly and Chris Franklin, went into some really amusing speculation about the actual nature of the relationship between Bruce and these eye-candy women he had hanging on his arm to keep up his playboy facade. They also covered some of these possibilities, i.e., were they prostitutes, actresses, or something else entirely?

    Love the data sheet, by the way, although I’m a bit surprised that The Spirit isn’t also among her favorite movies.

    1. Ryan & Chris are friends of mine. Although I haven’t heard any of Knightcast yet, I did record an appearance on the Superman Movie Minute podcast with Chris and Rob Kelly on Thursday night. It’ll be on episode 10, I believe.

      I would’ve put the Spirit on the data sheet if I’d thought of it. But since I’ve hit on the movie before in this column, maybe it’s just as well. You can check out what I had to say on Eisner’s Spirit movie here:

      http://atomicjunkshop.com/eisner-miller-lost-pages/

      http://atomicjunkshop.com/the-cinematic-spirit/

  2. M-Wolverine

    Hmmmmm…unclear from story whether he didn’t know Gordon was going to try him that morning, or if he just kept putting Gordon off until he was fully ready. He’s done the actor thing bit before, but I would think that it’s more suspicious to have an actress out there who knows she was hired to pull one over than to just find hook up. I mean, isn’t the actress’s immediate thought “why is he hiring me if he doesn’t have something to hide? IS he Batman? And why can’t he just get someone to sleep with him?”

    I guess it the determining factor is whether you think Batman is so obsessed with his work that he never gets any. But he uses his partners for the cause all the time. I’m not sure that him using some women for the cause is such a stretch. If you want to call her used. She gets wined and dined and has consensual sex with a super rich, super fit, super good looking guy. I’m sure he doesn’t have to go trolling for prostitutes. He just has one of his build Bruce Wayne’s character nights on the town. Women sleep with guys for a lot less. (And a man who sleeps with a woman for sex AND an ulterior motive?!?! Unheard of!!!!)

    The better question is how when he’s that exposed he explains away a body of scar tissue. The odd visible scratch or bruise peeking out of a suit as “skiing accident” is OK, but when every inch of your body has a mark on it, they’re at the least going to think you’re into some really kinky stuff.

    1. “Hmmmmm…unclear from story whether he didn’t know Gordon was going to try him that morning, or if he just kept putting Gordon off until he was fully ready.”

      I think it’s pretty clear that Bruce was putting Gordon off until he just couldn’t any longer. I can’t see Alfred ever letting Gordon question Wayne without Bruce’s permission. And don’t forget that Bruce was healing from the bullet wounds he sustained when the SWAT Team firebombed and raided that tenement they trapped Batman in. He traveled to Switzerland to recover from that, and told Gordon and Essen that he had a skiing accident and broke those limbs. I doubt that cane Bruce has in panel one is totally for show.

      But yeah, of COURSE Bruce was prepared for Gordon’s visit. That’s why he’s the Goddamned Batman. 😉

      “I mean, isn’t the actress’s immediate thought ‘Why is he hiring me if he doesn’t have something to hide? IS he Batman?'”

      I think that would only be your first thought if you live in a comic book universe.

      “I guess it the determining factor is whether you think Batman is so obsessed with his work that he never gets any.”

      I’ve heard different writers give different opinions on that. Steve Englehart seemed to be of the school that yeah, Bruce Wayne had a healthy sex life. It seemed that Bruce and Silver St. Cloud definitely had sex before he started to develop genuine feelings for her. (Although I do wonder how he covered up those radiation burns from Dr. Phosphorus from her). I’ve heard others opine (Frank Miller in AMAZING HEROES, maybe?) that there were a lot of starlets in Gotham who just got a peck on the cheek at the end of the night from Bruce but who weren’t about to admit it publicly. Some folks say he completely sublimates his sex life. I know that Denny O’Neil wasn’t nuts about Mike W. Barr having Batman sleep with Talia in the SON OF THE DEMON graphic novel.

      I guess I feel that while perhaps Bruce occasionally has sex, it’s not a priority to him and will always, always take a backseat to his crimefighting.

      1. M-Wolverine

        I think we’re on the same page. I haven’t been on the “Batman is obsessed as the Punisher and has no humanity left” angle because him turning his tragedy into a positive thing (albeit one where he beats up people) is what makes him a hero. Nor do I think he’s the Burton-Keaton this is a night creature so he has a freaky sex life.

        I guess I don’t see him going out looking to pick someone up, but if the opportunity is there and it doesn’t interfere with anything, and in fact helps his cover, he’s more than happy to take one for the team.

        Now whether he’s any good or not I leave to a CBR list.

          1. frasersherman

            I think it was Alan Brennert who said that in a superheroic universe, Batman putting on a costume to avenge his parents is no different from founding MADD because your daughter was killed by a drunk driver.

  3. But if I’m giving a serious answer as to who I think this woman is (something I didn’t do in the column itself to preserve the humor), I’m going with “drunken partygoer who spent the night at Wayne Manor, trying to hook up with Wayne the next morning.” Partly because it seems the most plausible, and partly because I find the idea of Bruce sleeping with a random woman just to enhance his reputation as a thoughtless playboy for his interview with Gordon to be squicky beyond belief.

    1. M-Wolverine

      I can totally see him throwing a big party the night before, showing up late to his own party because he’s out Batting around, and he’s Bruce Wayne so he can, so the place is a mess and probably stinks, and whoever wants to hang out over night (if they even slept) can.

      1. Yeah, that’s more or less what I was thinking. It’s not uncommon for party guests to crash for the night if they’ve had a little too much to drink. I’ve done it myself. I’ve also had friends crash at my place after a party. I’d imagine it’s even more common when your host lives in a freakin’ mansion.

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