Warning: Major spoilers below for Batwoman #11
When I picked up Batwoman #11, the final issue in the enigmatic “To Drown the World” story-arc, I did the thing I’ve been wanting to do for six months: I read the whole shebang in one sitting. The good news: It was a deeply more satisfying (and unbelievably less confusing) experience to read the books back-to-back. The bad news: Even sandwiched together in what is essentially trade paperback form, I’m not sure the experiment in dense non-linear storytelling works. But allow me to contradict myself by starting at the end and working backwards.
Batwoman #11 finally pays out some answers to the questions it’s been asking for six months, but in true Gotham City fashion, the end is really only the beginning. First there was The Weeping Woman, but she was really just a minion of Maro and Falchion, and now it turns out they are just minions of Mitera — “The Mother,” it would seem, of MEDUSA. Apparently, both Falchion and Maro wanted to be her favorite son, so in a tale as old as Cain and Abel, Maro shape-shifted himself into the form of a beautiful lady and seduced the lesbian superhero in town so she could do his dirty work for him. Maro thinks this makes him a God. Batwoman thinks this makes him a common werewolf.
At any rate, thanks to Kate Kane’s inability to do anything half-assed (as her girlfriend would say), she allows Maro to escape to The Mother with four mythical beasts and an army of ghost children in tow. Agent Chase wants to take down Maro with her semi-automatic pistol, but you know how the Bat-family feels about guns and killing.
From helpless lesbian to supernatural crime boss to adorable white fox, Maro morphs into one of the most sinister villains in the Bat-canon, returning to The Mother at the end of the book, blaming Falchion’s death on Batwoman.
But it’s not all grim news! In fact, for such a dismal story-arc, Batwoman #11 ends with some almost overwrought moments of delight. For starters, Bette finally comes out of her coma when “Uncle Jake” confesses that her mom is about to let the doctors harvest her organs and pull the plug on her life support. He promises that if she wakes up, he’ll teach her all the things Kate couldn’t learn, and to drive home the point, he wraps a mask around her eyes. Sensing a connection to a supersuit, Bette pulls herself out of the coma. Hey, Colonel Kane, the last time you favored one of your kids over the other one, she turned into a homicidal serial killer. Just sayin’.
But wait! It gets even sappier! Cuddled up on a couch, Kate and Maggie finally come clean to each other about their lives. Well, as much as you can come clean when your secret vigilante alter-ego is loathed by your girlfriend. Kate tells Maggie about kissing Maro (kind of) and about Beth (kind of) and that if Maggie really wants her, she can have all of her. (kind of). Maggie tells Kate about her daughter. Then they snuggle up like bunnies and promise to love each other, ghosts and all (literally).
So expect Maggie to die by issue #13. (Just kidding.) (Kind of.)
While I am happy to see our favorite lesbian hero get [even a temporary] happy ending, I still wish it felt like it was more earned. For an arc that lasted half a year, “To Drown the World” didn’t really feel like it had much of a climax. Maybe I’ll revisit these six issues in a couple of months with fresh eyes and truly appreciate the risk J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman took. I hope so. But even though I felt like the arc was unnecessarily confusing at times, the artwork remains the best in the business. And anyway, next month Batwoman finds an unexpected ally in — wait for it — Wonder Woman! As always, I can’t wait.
What did you think of Batwoman #11? And how do you feel about “To Drown the World” now that it has come to a close?