By Cat Wyatt
Issue #16 of Batwoman brings us the finale in the Fall of the House of Kane plot, and while it has had its ups and downs, let it not be said that it ended in anything other than a bang. The cover of this issue should give you a good idea of what will be happening here – Batman and Batwaman are about to fight it out.
There are several things we need to remember, going into this issue. We know that Beth, Kate’s twin sister, is also Alice, but not all the time. We need to remember that while Alice planned to do something truly terrible here, Beth is still a victim here. In the last issue we saw Batman arriving and heading straight for Alice – with no regards for Beth’s welfare.
Now, this isn’t actually all that surprising. Look at how Batman treats many of his regular villains and you’ll know this to be the case. Harley alone is a perfect example. No matter how much fun she appeared to be having, the fact is that she started out this life as a victim, and in many ways she still is. Unlike Beth though, Harley has made an effort in owning who and what she is. Beth isn’t at that point yet, and frankly her path to recovery will not be the same as it is for Harley – if you want to consider what Harley is doing as healing, that is.
We also need to consider how Arkham has been operating lately. It was originally created as an asylum, obviously. But is it really that anymore? It’s more like a prison, albeit one with an open door policy for villains. It’s not a place for victims. Seriously, would you throw a low level criminal inside a maximum security prison? Hell no, they’d get eaten alive. And that’s exactly what would happen to Beth. If she was thrown into Arkham she would always only be Alice. Any chance of recovery would evaporate.
So naturally Kate is furious to see Batman going after Batman. It’s obvious what he’s going to do if he gets his hands on Beth/Alice. He’s going to do what he always does – send the problem to Arkham and hope they can deal with it for once. Because that has totally worked for him in the past. Ahem, anyway you really can’t blame Kate for feeling compelled to step up in this situation.
The simple fact is that if Kate was forced to pick between the symbol she loves and her sister, she’ll pick her sister every. Single. Time. And frankly it’s the right call. We all know how Arkham operates, as we discussed above, and even if Batman is willing to turn a blind eye to that fact doesn’t mean that Kate should.
This results with Batman and Batwoman at odds. Batman wants to send Beth/Alice to Arkham, and Kate wants to keep Beth out of Arkham. In this case, Kate is absolutely in the right, but getting Batman to listen when he’s made up his mind has never been easy. Batman does have the bad tendency to consider himself infallible at times, even at the cost of others…much as it hurts to say.
That means only one thing for Kate. She’s going to have to fight Batman, and if she wants to keep Beth out of Arkham she’s going to have to win.
In a straight and fair fight, there’s no chance that Kate would win. Batman is the better and more experienced fighter. There’s a catch though: Kate isn’t afraid to fight dirty, especially when somebody she loves is on the line. And man, does Kate have the perfect weapon for Batman.
The thing is, Kate doesn’t have to beat Batman to a pulp or anything like that. She just needs to beat him enough that he’ll stay put and listen to her for once. Not that hard, right? Okay, that’s actually a tall order, but Kate has that secret weapon of hers…so it should work out. Hopefully.
The secret weapon? It’s somewhere between absolutely brutal and perhaps just a little bit contrived. Batwoman is aware of one, if not the only, weakness of Batman’s. It’s a very specific sound, and she’s made a recording of it, for a moment just like this.
Her plan goes off without a hitch, and she manages to knock Batman through a loop long enough to get him to see reason. Her passionate argument may not have worked, had she not brought up family and reminded him that they’re all related, but it’s hard to be certain.
What we do know is that Kate won the fight, even if it cost her more than she’d like to admit. It cost her a strike with Batman (long story), it cost her the use of her secret weapon, one that likely won’t work again, and who knows what else. But Beth is safe and free, and that’s the most important thing right now.
This was a fantastic issue. While the rest of this plot was somewhat subpar at times, you’ve got the admit that the finale was something else. Forcing Kate to choose between her biological family and her bat family; between her sister and the symbol she loves so much is possibly the harshest thing they’ve done to her yet. But she made her choice and came out on top for it.
What has always been so wonderful about Batwoman is she’s unafraid to be brutally honest with herself, even if that means being harshly introspective at times. This was no exception, as the internal monologue proved.
Publisher: DC Comics