How Awesome Is It To Be Renee Montoya?

Renee Montoya IS The Question
Renee Montoya IS The Question

So, recently, I’ve been catching up on my podcasts, particuarly iFanboy, and particularly their episode on Final Crisis. I read comic books, and I like Superhero comics, but often times it’s the lower tier characters who capture my attention. The Green Arrows, the Deadpools, the Booster Golds of the world. For a moderate part, because it’s a little tricky to get into the big heroes and also around the time I was getting back into comics I wasn’t too into the direction the Bat-titles were going at the moment, I never quite got into Superman, and Wonder Woman never really was my thing. I like the Marvel stuff too, but also around the time I started getting back into comics (and getting a pull box started and so forth), Civil War had begun, and I wanted to see how it turned out before I anted back in – consequently, after the Iron Fascist won, I decided not to delve too deeply into the Marvel U (sticking with just Deadpool), and I went more deeply into the DC universe. However, I went with the smaller characters – Green Arrow, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold. I had JLA on my pull list, but it didn’t come out regularly enough that I could follow an arc – it seemed to be coming out quarterly, so I dropped it.

Now, with Infinite Crisis, and Final Crisis, and all of that, there is one development during that arc whole Infinite Crisis-52-Countdown-Final Crisis that I really liked, and I hope stays a running thing. That is the development of Renee Montoya.

Back when I was a kid, I watched Batman the Animated Series, and I followed Batman partially through the trade paperbacks – which were starting to become a big thing then with all the mega-events and storylines going on that helped to make them viable. In Batman: The Animated Series, they introduced 2 supporting characters who carried over to the mainstream DCU who I really liked: Harlequin (Harley), and Renee Montoya of the GCPD, who often ended up partnered with fat, presumably out-of-shape, presumably slovenly, ultimately having a heart of gold Detective Harvey Bullock. They were great supporting characters, and also worked very well with Commissioner Gordon. In many ways, they were the Spock and McCoy of the DCU, not in terms of one expressing the emotional opinion and one voicing the logical opinion, but that Bullock recognized and expressed the view that Batman is a vigilante, is operating outside the law, and in many ways his very presence is antagonizing some of Gotham’s freaks (The Joker would probably have either gone out in a blaze of glory or moved on if he didn’t have Batman to entertain him), whereas Montoya recognized the good that Batman was doing for Gotham City. Ultimately, Gordon was the middle ground – Gordon supports Batman covertly, and recognizes the help he does, but he also realizes that his friend is an outlaw, and if he ever crosses a line, Gordon will have to take him down.

So, Bullock and Montoya became my favorite members of the Batman supporting cast, even more than Alfred or Robin. Time passes, Bullock and Montoya are broken up and Montoya is partnered with Crispus Allen from Gotham Central, another character who I’d come to like, and ultimately Allen is killed off, which I wasn’t too fond of – but one thing that did happen that I found interesting, was that Montoya was outed as a lesbian. It was not awesome for the character how it happened – the awesomeness is yet to come.

I was intersted by this development because it’s a massive shift for a character who came out of a kids television show (though one written with adult sensabilities) – the character, when she was outed, was just like any other member of the Gotham PD supporting cast, in that they were normal people – which put the character of Montoya in an interesting position – in a day and age where the debate over equal rights for gays and lesbians has hit the level of visibility that the Civil Rights Movement had with Martin Luther King Jr. back in the 1960 and onwards through the 1970s, rather than DC introducing a character who is gay or lesbian (they had a gay character on Green Lantern when Kyle Raynar was the star, and would later introduce a lesbian Batwoman), outing an existing character was a different move. There was backlash, but I suspect the backlash was representative of people’s intolerances rather than their tolerances – there were people I observed who hated the reveal who also tended to use homophobic language – not necessarily as a direct slur against a person considered to be homosexual, but using homophobic language in the way other people would use “dumb”, “stupid”, or “lame”. People who had no problems with it or even liked the development, I observed, tended to be more friendly to GLBT people. The people who were hesitant about it, and were concerned about where they would go from here were similarly hesitant about how GLBT people are depicted in the media.

Now, I have to take a moment to step aside and say I have not finished reading 52 yet. I have not read all of Final Crisis yet, I will be reading it when the TPBs come out so I can binge to my heart’s content.

Moving on, when 52 came out, we finally got the answer to where Montoya would go from there – she would become The Question II. Renee Montoya, former GCPD Detective, now was operating at the same level as The Bat. Now, I never did find out if she got an Honorary JLA or JSA membership (which would have been awesome) or if she ever found out Batman’s identity. Anyway, she did end up working alongside Nightwing and a few other characters, and from there to Final Crisis the character’s main focus appears to have been investigating Intergang. In Final Crisis, The Question ends up taking one more step up as she ends up joining forces with a bunch of other heroes to quickly hop from universe to universe to bring togeather a band of heroes from all these other universes to help in the final battle against Darkseid, kicking the character into basically operating on the same level that The Flash, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the late Martian Manhunter end up fighting in these crises – on the front lines.

Final Crisis has only recently ended, so we’ll see eventually how these things turn out for Renee Montoya, and where her long term place is in the DC Universe – but in about 3-4 years, she’s gone from street-level supporting cast to helping on the front lines of a freaking Crisis – how awesome is that?