By Cat Wyatt
Batwoman #9 picks up right where the last issue left off; with Kate trapped in Dr. Crane’s lab. It will come as no surprise that the Twins had something to do with Dr. Crane’s capture of Kate. They’ve been gunning for her for a while after all. Despite the short amount of time Kate’s been prisoner (presumably – with all the drugs it’s hard to be certain how long she’s been in there) Crane has already begun experimenting on her by using new drugs and concoctions of his own creation (naturally). Now, I think it’s safe to say that Batwoman can be trippy on its own, add in psychedelics and you’ve reach a whole new level.
You’re probably wondering why the Twins would bother having Kate imprisoned like this, rather than just killing her (it would be easier to do while she’s down, after all). Supposedly their ultimate goal in regards to Kate is to help her learn “who she really is” (and why they didn’t see this backfiring on them I have no idea).
There’s nothing more fun sounding than the idea of trying to break out of an insane criminal’s lab while hopped up on hallucinogenics, but that’s basically what happens to Batwoman (and Colony Prime) here. I don’t envy them! As mentioned in the last issue, both are seeing the world different; he’s seeing the world as an old video game (I would have loved to see that perspective) while she’s seeing a twisted Wonderland sort of world.
Naturally there’s a lot of banter that occurs during the escape attempt (man do I love superhero banter!). Sometimes between each other (the subject of family and daddy issues may come up a time or two), sometimes with Crane (resulting in a hilarious debate about Sacraments). It’s worth noting that there’s some beautiful imagery in this trippy world that Batwoman is seeing, they’re definitely a highlight to the series.
In the last issue we saw Batwoman tracking someone (turns out its Prime) using a tracker found in the helmet of one of his men. She’s now concerned that this was a trap, as it led her to Crane’s lab, where she was captured. It appears likely that Fatima or Crane allowed the tracker signal through, in order to bait her (or perhaps bait somebody else, and this was just a happy coincidence), a trick that certainly worked. With a little bit of luck from the past and some adjusting, they’re able to increase the signal of Prime’s tracker. With any luck this will call for help. I’ll confess this part felt a little forced, though I agree it’s unlikely they’ll escape on their own at this point (and even if they do, to what end? They’re in the middle of the desert with no supplies).
There are a few fight scenes during this issue, but they’re ninety percent posing and confusion (which I can see Crane’s drugs causing). Prime goes down hard, but not courtesy of any physical blow (it turns out he has his own set of skeletons in the closet). Things get a little clouded here – I believe this was intentional, as Batwoman is our only perspective and she has been rendered incapable of seeing things clearly.
The beginning and middle of this issue may have been odd and mildly confusing, but the end was actually pretty wonderful. It spoke heavily in metaphors, referring to Kate’s past and all the pain she’s experienced. What I loved about this part was that Kate stopped being tortured by her past; instead embracing it for what it made her into. I’m sure that’s what the Twins had intended, but I don’t think they anticipated that this would only strengthen her convictions (yep, that’s right, as predicted this plan is likely to bite them in the butt).
I’m constantly fascinated by the way Marguerite Bennet thinks and how they choose to portray Batwoman. Her present seems so firmly rooted in the past (to the point where there hasn’t been a single issue without a flashback), showing us precisely how her past made her the woman she is today. At times this storytelling technique can be frustrating, but in this issue it was pretty well balanced (minimal flashbacks and interruptions). I would like to see them drop some of the obfuscation they’ve surrounded Kate in, and I sincerely hope that is what this plot is leading up to.
The artwork was the highlight for me in this issue. Fernando Blanco (with the help of colorist John Rauch) did a fantastic job of blending the themes of Wonderland with Crane’s overlaying tones of imagery. Throw in some iconic images (such as Batwoman being tied up roses – presumably rope) and you’ve got a recipe for some beautiful full page images. The color palette was spot on as well – with the tones changing steadily but slowly throughout, indicating changes in events or emotion. Even the way Crane is portrayed changes when Kate is exposed to a different set of drugs. The attention to detail is astounding.
Publisher: DC Comics