After my review of Batwoman #26, I gave myself a stern talking-to about how I needed to get over the fact that J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman are gone from Batwoman forever, and DC is not going to let Maggie and Kate get married, and yes, the tone and characterizations of the book have changed drastically under Marc Andreyko‘s pen, but Batwoman is still the highest profile gay character in all of mainstream comics, isn’t she? And DC is still committed to making her solo title work, aren’t they? No one’s trying to re-closet her or rewrite her post-Infinite Crisis sexual identity, are they? She’s still unaccountably important, for women generally and gay women specifically, and she’s still awesome; she’s just different. I think I’ve finally dealt with it. (OK, fine. I haven’t dealt with it completely — but I’m working on it! I’m just very protective of my favorite queer characters, which you know by now.)
Batwoman #27 picks right up where Issue #26 left off: with Kate falling backwards out of a penthouse window after being dosed with some of Wolf Spider’s poisonous darts. As her body tumbles toward the ground, her mind tumbles down the rabbit hole of her most terrifying fears, insecurities, and memories. And I mean “rabbit hole” in the literal Lewis Carroll-y sense because the first stop on Kate’s hallucinatory plummet is her childhood bedroom where young Beth is dressed like an Alice in Wonderland, playing with a Mad Hatter doll and a tea set and speaking only in quotes and riddles like the psycho she would grow up to be. Young Beth-as-Alice gives Kate a tour through the murkiness of her own mind: the guilt she feels for not being able to save her mother’s life, the trauma of being kicked out of West Point because she’s a lesbian, the rise of Beth’s super-villain alter-ego (with a bonus psychedelic-skeleton White Rabbit!), her confrontation with Batman, her inability to rescue Hawkfire, Agent Chase standing ready to assassinate her.
One of my major complaints about Andreyko’s first few issues of Batwoman was how insubstantial the character suddenly felt. Like, “Let’s giggle and drink champagne and mock gay people who are so hungry for positive media representations of marriage equality and find some super-fun crime to fight!” The idea that a woman who was kicked out of the armed forces under DADT wouldn’t understand the symbolic triumph of her high profile same-sex wedding? And why that victory would garner so much attention and mean so much to the LGBTQ community? It’s absurd! And insulting! That was a Batwoman I did not know. This Batwoman, the one falling down the rabbit hole of the consuming darkness and despair of her own mind, I know her. I’ve been knowing her for years now. I breathed a sigh of deep relief to see her again. Plus, Jeremy Haun, Francis Manapul, and Guy Major‘s tag-teamed art for these sequences is stunning. The writing is still way too thin, but the art tries its best to balance out the depth of the narrative.
The follow-up of the fall (both physically and mentally) involves Batwoman wrestling herself out of the scrape — while Hawkfire returns home to call Kate on her cell phone?! — and heading back to her and Maggie’s place to clean up. On the way to shower, she ditches her Bat-suit and weapons and other crime-fighting paraphernalia, just tosses them on the floor as she’s walking down the hallway. It’d be a real hoot to see Maggie wake her up in the morning, all, “Can you please stop leaving your dirty cape and cowl on the floor?!” But it’s not Maggie who finds Batwoman’s mask. It’s Maggie’s daughter, who has apparently come to Gotham city to stay with her mom and her mom’s fiance for a while. She peeps the Bat-mask and then she peeps a bruised and battered Kate washing the blood off herself in the middle of the night in the middle of the bathroom, and she freaks the heck out.
Surprise, Jamie! Welcome to the Bat-family!
What did you think of Batwoman #27?