By Cat Wyatt
Issue #13 of Batwoman starts off with Kate searching desperately for her sister, Elizabeth. She’s on a video conference with the asylum that supposedly is taking care of her, but they’re giving her a BS answer that certainly makes it appear that they’re covering up for her kidnapping (given asylums reputations in the Batman universe, this isn’t terribly shocking. Though it certainly is disappointing). Thankfully Kate already knows who took her, because the asylum is being worse than useless.
Safiyah Sohail and the Many Arms of Death have Kate’s sister. I think we can all imagine just how bad that could go. I’d like to believe (and so would Kate, I imagine) that Safiyah would try and take care of Elizabeth as much as possible, but who knows how much Safiyah has changed since the two of them last met.
Granted, Kate doesn’t have much proof that Safiyah is actually involved in her sister’s disappearance. More like she found a note, so that along with her gut feeling (and past experiences) and she’s jumping to the conclusion.
What Kate does have is a message from Safiyah saying that in order to rescue Beth (Elizabeth’s nickname, obviously), then she had to go home. But which home would Safiyah be referring to? Gotham? Coryana? Or Brussels? Brussels was where Kate lived before her family is torn apart. It is there Kate believes she’ll find Safiyah, and hopefully her sister (kind of poetic, don’t you think?).
A lot has changed since Kate last entered this house. She lost her mother (definitely dead – not just comic book dead), she lost her sister, and in many ways she lost her father. Later, she found her sister again, and while some attempts were made to find her father again, he seemed to always have other priorities over her. It’s no wonder she chose to avoid this place until now.
Until Safiyah made her return here. As much as it may hurt Kate to admit – she wants the kidnapper to be Safiyah. No, she needs the kidnapper to be Safiyah. Having it be her would wrap everything up all nice and neat. Safiyah being the kidnapper would absolve Kate for any of the pain she caused Safiyah over the years. It would free Kate of her guilt.
While searching the house Kate walked by something I found to be rather disturbing. On the stairwell there are three portraits. Which isn’t terribly odd, for a family. But consider this; they were a family of four, not a family of three. Kate’s portrait is missing. Also, the people in the portrait (Kate’s mother, father, and sister), all appear to be dead – they’re arranged much like one would expect a person in a coffin to be arranged. Foreshadowing? Or more of Kate’s mental state leaking through?
Kate’s trip to Brussels wasn’t without cause – Safiyah is here. But Beth is not. While Kate so desperately wants to continue blaming Safiyah for what has happened – it appears they’re both victims to the same crime. The woman Safiyah loves (she made a point of telling Kate that this was the only person she loved more than Kate) has gone too. It would appear that the Mother of War is behind everything. Possibly even behind the Many Arms of Death. Possibly more than that.
Kate’s willingness to lay blame on somebody she once loved to absolve herself of guilt speaks volumes to her current mental state. A few issues ago she may have been willing to face the worst parts of herself in order to survive, but it’s clear that she hasn’t finished working through those issues once they were brought to the surface. It’ll be interesting to see where Kate’s mental growth will lead next.
This issue was very heavy in introspective monologue, which is fine by me but some may find it rather tiring. I would have liked it more had the storytelling style been slightly less obfuscated, the attempt to be mysterious left the writing a bit messy at times.
The artwork for this series shines, as per usual. The use of imagery to indicate Kate’s mental health and internal thoughts is brilliant; such as the dead portraits in her abandoned family home. I would love to see more of this, if I’m being honest. Safiyah looked absolutely stunning, as did their small fight.