Comic Character Spotlight: Renee Montoya

Who created Renee Montoya? Bruce Timm, Paul Dini and Mitch Brian are credited as the joint creators of Renee Montoya, as she was developed for ‘Batman: The Animated Series’. However, […]

Who created Renee Montoya?

Renee Montoya, as seen in ‘Batman: The Animated Series’

Bruce Timm, Paul Dini and Mitch Brian are credited as the joint creators of Renee Montoya, as she was developed for ‘Batman: The Animated Series’. However, her first appearance across any platform was actually in Batman #475, written by Scottish writer Alan Grant and American artist and frequent collaborator Norm Breyfogle. Grant and Breyfogle worked together for a number of years, creating several characters across Detective Comics, Batman and the first arc of Shadow of the Bat. Their creations include Victor Zsasz, Anarky, Cornelius Stirk, Jeremiah Arkham, Amyglada, The Ventriloquist/Scarface and the Ratcatcher, the latter two co-created with John Wagner. Bruce Timm and Paul Dini are better known amongst mainstream fans as creating the DC Animated Universe and various characters within it, notably Harley Quinn.

Victoria Cartagena as Renee Montoya, on the television series ‘Gotham’

Renee Montoya was portrayed as a beat cop and later detective from her inception in 1992 all the way through 2007 when the character underwent a dramatic change under the authorship of Greg Rucka, who shares credit with Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Mark Waid and Keith Giffen – the other constructors of ‘52’, DC’s yearlong epic told in real time. Make no mistake, though, Montoya’s character in ‘52’ was solely Rucka’s brainchild, with issue #48 (April 2007) the culmination of an ongoing story Rucka had started back in Detective Comics #742 (March 2000) and continued through Gotham Central. Montoya’s story would continue from’52’, through Final Crisis, Batwoman: Detective Comics, Blackest Night, Rebirth: Detective Comics and most recently in Rucka’s 2019 maxiseries ‘Lois Lane’.

Suggested reading

At the time of writing, Montoya’s first appearance in comics in Batman #475 hasn’t been collected yet. If you’re reading this from the future though, it will be in a Legends of the Dark Knight: Norm Breyfogle volume 3 hardcover or Batman: Caped Crusader TPB volume 5. For Rucka’s more modern run, however, you want to read the following:

  • No Man’s Land (series of TPBs, I will write up a full review and guide to reading NML soon)
  • Batman: New Gotham Volume 1 (TPB, Eaglemoss ‘Legend of Batman’ volume 1)
  • Batman: Officer Down (TPB)
  • Batman: New Gotham Volume 2 (TPB, Eaglemoss ‘Legend of Batman’ volume 2)
  • Gotham Central (one omnibus, four TPBs or five standard size hardcovers)
  • 52 (one omnibus, two thick TPBs or four regular TPBs)
  • Crime Bible: Five Lessons of Blood (standard HC or TPB)
  • Final Crisis (best collected as omnibus, also available in multiple formats)
  • Final Crisis: Revelations (best collected in Final Crisis Omnibus, also available in standard HC and TPB)
  • Batwoman (best collected as Batman Omnibus, also available in a series of TPBs)
  • The Question: Pipeline (TPB)
  • Blackest Night (best collected as Blackest Night omnibus)
  • Batman Inc. (best collected as Batman by Grant Morrison Omnibus Volume 3)
  • New 52 Detective Comics #41 onwards (likely available in omnibus soon, worth waiting for. Available in standard HCs and TPBs)
  • Rebirth: Batwoman special and ongoing (TPBs)
  • Lois Lane #1-#12 (as yet uncollected)
Montoya in 52 #7, June 2006. Written by Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid, Geoff Johns. Layouts by Keith Giffen. Art by Ken Lashley with Draxhall Jump Studios.

Reading order explained (Spoilers!)

Montoya was a primary background character across Batman related books and media from her first appearance until the 1990s event ‘No Man’s Land’, depicting Gotham utterly destroyed by an earthquake. Between ‘NML’ and Rucka’s Detective Comics run (New Gotham volume 1 and 2, Officer Down) Montoya is established as a focal point within the GCPD, utilised as a main character in some stories. Between these books, Montoya develops a friendship with the “good half” of Harvey Dent, but is later the victim of the “bad half” of Two-Face as he develops a questionable romance with Montoya.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Huntress (left) with Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya in the 2020 film ‘Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)’

New Gotham’s themes are continued into Gotham Central – a forty issue long epic starting in 2003 entirely about the police force in Gotham. Gotham Central shows us how Gotham’s finest deal with the criminal underbelly when Batman is not around, and how they deal with Batman when he is. During this run, Montoya, now a detective, takes the full lead with her partner Crispus Allen, as she takes the focal point of the series. Themes such as her sexuality and religion are played out as a soap opera expertly by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka. By the final issue, after some very emotional occurrences including her partner’s brutal death, Montoya hands her badge in and turns to her alcoholism.

Immediately following the events of Infinite Crisis, the entire DC Universe skipped forward one year. The weekly series ‘52’ told the story of the “missing year”, detailing Montoya’s high adventure with The Question. Finally, in #48 of ‘52’, The Question succumbs to his illness and passes away in an emotive send off and Montoya claims the mantle.

Following a few appearances in various books including major appearances in Batwoman (her love interest) and her own story, ‘Pipeline’, Renee Montoya next appeared in Blackest Night where Shiva challenges Montoya’s right to Vic Sage’s Question mask. Sage appears, though, resurrected as part of the greater storyline and fights them both. Around this time Renee also joined the Birds of Prey.

A page from ‘The Question: Pipeline’, written by Greg Rucka with art by Cully Hamner with Dave McCaig and Laura DePuy Martin. Originally published as the backup story in Detective Comics #854-#863, co-featuring ‘Batwoman: Elegy’. Detective Comics featured these characters during Batman’s “death” during ‘Final Crisis’.

In New 52 continuity, Renee Montoya’s character is rebooted back to generic cop – but during the Rebirth special Batwoman, this appears to be partially undone. During the final issue of Rebirth’s Batwoman series the couple of Montoya and Kate Kane’s Batwoman finally reunite. 2019’s Lois Lane 12 issue maxi-series by Greg Rucka brings Montoya back, marking Rucka’s twentieth anniversary of first writing the character in a prominent position within the bat family.

About Graeme Small

Comics Editor.