By Cat Wyatt
Issue number 14 of Batwoman continues the Fall of the House of Kang plotline. Kate’s sister, Beth, has been kidnapped by Tahani, and it’s safe to assume that her reasons are not in anyone’s best interest. Beth has a supervillian past, she was once known as Alice, and was absolutely lethal with her concoctions. It’s the reason Kate had to place her in the asylum to begin with. But as it turns out that asylum was about as competent at keeping their inmates inside as Arkham is (read: pretty horrible at it, really).
This issue starts off with Beth, now in her Alice form (which is easily identified, even without seeing her: her speech bubbles are black and she speaks as if from a twisted nursery rhyme) is taking care of a few loose ends. Now I’m sure the people she’s poisoning are not actually her enemies, but rather they’re Tahani’s enemies. I don’t know what she’s done to bring Alice back around, but it’s pretty clear that she has control over her (which I fear would actually not take all that much).
Anyway, Alice’s first introduction back into villainy involves poisons, as I just mentioned. Now I have no idea what she put in it, but it was enough to force both bodies to burst. Take a minute to let that sink it. Not only did her poisons successfully kill these people (relatively quickly, thankfully) but it forced their bodies to rupture…that’s both terrifying and gross.
Meanwhile Batwoman is slowly figuring out what has happened. She’s successfully captured Safiyah, but she doesn’t seem to know what to do with her now (she can’t trust her to stay locked up alone, but likewise she can’t bring her with her…which limits her options significantly). She knows that Tahani is behind her sister’s kidnapping, and so much more. She knows that Beth has become Alice again. She also knows exactly where to go for this showdown. So Batwoman actually knows quite a lot about what’s going on, she just doesn’t know the why or the how.
Alice is there to greet Kate when she arrives…well...sort of. A rather large projection is waiting upon the rooftop for Kate, but she’s less of a greeting committee and more of an early warning system for Tahani. At least that’s what it looks like.
So the fight we’ve been waiting for all this time has finally begun. Tahani versus Kate. That fight has been waiting to happen ever since Safiyah loved them both, so it was inevitable (no matter how much Safiyah may have hoped it wouldn’t happen). Tahani let her jealousy turn to rage; she let it fester until it consumed her; which now that I think about it, is actually a pretty common point in the Batwoman comics. Interesting.
During their fight Tahani lets loose every barb she can think of, anything she can say to hurt Kate just a little bit more. This includes the revelation of what has been done to Kate. How she’s been made a carrier for countless diseases. I’m not really sure if Tahani is telling the truth here or not – I could actually see her lying about Kate being the vector (knowing full well that Kate would run into danger in an attempt to fix things). In reality she’s probably telling the truth though. It’s too convoluted to be anything but the truth.
Here we have a bit of a chicken and the egg conundrum. Was it Kate’s affinity for bats that put her in danger, or did they pick the bats because of her affinity for them? Regardless, there’s a small army of bats ready to infect an unsuspecting city (I do sort of hate how bats seem to always get the short end of the stick with these plots).
It’ll be interesting to see how everything turns out, in the end. I’m sure Kate won’t ask for help from anyone else – even if her theory about her body being the cure is true (Batman and his lab would really come in handy, if that is true). She’s too stubborn, and this is too personal. Her friends and family may rally anyway – actually I quite hope that happens. She keeps getting told that she is alone, that she must face this alone. I’d love it if that ended up not being true. But likely she will face this alone, and she’ll somehow get through it anyway.
Batwoman is such an introspective series, sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the messages being told. There’s layer upon layer of subtext and implication in this story. The tale of rage consuming a person, of jealousy rooting something worse, of family ties becoming twisted, of abandonment, confusion, loss, and everything in between. This series may have less action than most, but it certainly has a lot to say about it.
I loved the artwork for this issue – especially Alice. I know she’s already been designed and shown, but I still love her style. She even looked great in all red up on that giant projection. The cityscapes and panoramic were terribly dramatic in this issue, but it helped support the threat of what Tahani and Alice were trying to complete.