Batwoman makes Wonder Woman cry and Maggie Sawyer swoon in “Batwoman #14 and #15″

 
 

Batwoman #15

In a most jarring tonal shift, Batwoman #15 presents itself as a classic crime noir story, both narratively and artistically, as “World’s Finest” shifts to Detective Sawyer’s point of view. The reason behind the decision seems simple enough: While Kate Kane is romping around the mythical world with Wonder Woman and accidentally making out with evil demigods and engaging in battles with high-tech gadgets and a cape and a cowl, Maggie Sawyer is doing the hard-nosed, day-to-day police work of a regular human being, who just happens to be caught in the Apocalypse. It’s a brave artistic choice, and while I’ve heard it wasn’t received very well with mainstream fanboys, there is something deeply resonant for gay readers in this issue.

The story is bookended by Maggie’s internal dialogue as we see issue #14′s final splash page from her perspective, and the middle of the book, the crime noir part, is a flashback of the Medusa narrative from her point of view. The first thing we find out about Maggie is that her religious wounds are deep. As Batwoman and Wonder Woman are plunging out of the sky toward Gotham, she wonders if it’s true that Wonder Woman is a demigod, and then she wonders if God truly hates her.

See, because, Maggie Sawyer grew up in the Catholic Church, which, of course, rejected her when she came out as a lesbian. The church’s hatred of her is so ingrained into Maggie’s psyche that she almost has a panic attack when she has to rush inside a church to save the families of the children who were taken by the Weeping Woman. (This, from a woman who can face down mythical monsters with a frown and a handgun.) Maggie remembers driving her mom to church and waiting in the car for her until the service was over. She remembers also the way the church told her God couldn’t love her if she was gay.

There’s plenty of action in Batwoman #15 as Maggie rescues the dad of one of the Weeping Woman kids and tries to assemble a task force to deal with the impending Apocalypse. But the real heart of the story is her struggle with her faith.

It is on the first page that she wonders if God hates her. And on the final page, she decides: “God loves me enough to keep Kate out of this madness and bring her home safe.” It’s a powerful emotional punch, especially because she comes to that conclusion as Batwoman is flying out of the sky, right into the thick of the battle.

Williams and Blackman could very easily have played to the lowest common denominator with this book. They could have used Kate’s lesbianism to satisfy the male gaze the way DC seems to be exploiting the femininity of so many of it’s other lady heroes. They could have winked and smirked their way through Kate and Maggie’s relationship. But instead, they have anchored the book with real emotion and organic struggles. I can’t wait to see where “World’s Finest” takes us next.

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