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:
Did you see her? Let’s take a closer look:
In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m talking about this woman:
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?
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.”
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?
She 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.
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.
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.
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:
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.