In the contrived battle between comics and TV, television (aka America’s favorite pastime) usually has the edge. But, sometimes, sometimes, comics get the drop on the old idiot box, and that seems to be the case with the introduction of new superhero character Ryan Wilder. Ryan, who will take over the mantle of Batwoman from Kate Kane in the second season of Batwoman, is a character created for television and set to be portrayed by Javicia Leslie, but, first, she will be seen in comic book form.
Per DC Comics, Ryan will appear in Batgirl #50, an extra-sized issue by Cecil Castellucci, Emanuela Lupacchino, Marguerite Sauvage, and Aneke set to hit stores and digital on Tuesday, October 27th, further integrating the brand new character into the fabric of the DC universe.
At first glance, the decision to feature Ryan Wilder in the comics might not seem all that special. In this age of adaptation, characters are so often on the page before they appear on the screen, it’s hardly worth mentioning.
This, however, feels different.
DC is making an explicit effort to seed a character creating specifically for the TV universe into its comics before the character even premieres on TV. While there is precedent for TV characters making their way from the TV screen to the comics, e.g. Arrow‘s John Diggle, in cases like that one, that character became a fan favorite on a successful TV series before making the jump to the page. It’s nice to see DC make such an investment in Ryan Wilder as a character past the boundaries of the CW-verse, before she even appears on the show.
It’s also exciting to know that we don’t have to wait until 2021, when Batwoman Season 2 is set to premiere, to find out more about Ryan Wilder. We do know some things about Ryan. Per The CW‘s official description, we now she’s “likable, messy, a little goofy and untamed.” We now she spent time as a drug-runner. We know that she’s “a girl who would steal milk for an alley cat and could also kill you with her bare hands.” She’s “highly skilled and wildly undisciplined.” While this gives us an idea of who Ryan is, there’s still so much we don’t know about this character and the unexpected opportunity to find out more in the comics is a glimmer of nerdish joy in the hellscape that is 2020.
While the issue might not be out yet, DC Comics has released a preview of its pages up on their site, and it includes the introduction of Ryan. The pages begin with Batgirl Barbara Gordon arguing with her father, James Gordon, about the current state of Gotham, which is protesting as gentrification and other unjust processes make it harder for those without privilege to survive in the city. As she observes the protestors facing off against cops with shields and tear gas, Barbara is having a real crisis of conscience, wondering if she has made a difference in Gotham as Batgirl at all, and, perhaps, if the city needs a new kind of hero…
“The death of an era is an opportunity to get rid of the old and usher in something new. Something better. Take the time to reexamine our heroes. And maybe find new ones … I need to ask myself—how can I be of real service to the people of Gotham? In a way that intersects my two lives?”
Then, Babs runs into Ryan, who we already know from the TV character description, is living in her van. The two already know one another. Apparently, Ryan used to hang out in the library Barbara worked at, and also took Barbara’s coding class. The two argue in a practiced kind of way about how best to help the city and its people…
Speaking about the new character at DC Fandome, Batwoman showrunner Caroline Dries said: “She was a girl who was a statistic of injustice. The moment she was born, and the system was not built for this person, and she will constantly battle against the system. All throughout she’s battled through it her whole life and she will continue to battle against it as Batwoman.”
Ryan Wilder is the first Black Batwoman we’ve ever seen on screen. Leslie added of the character: “Just to have that crusader that’s from that part of the community, I think that that’s important and that’s really what we’re going to dive into this season.”
More news on Ryan Wilder, aka Batwoman, when we properly meet her.