Warning: SPOILERS for Batwoman #16
Things certainly haven’t been easy for Batwoman in recent issues of DC Comics – her long-lost sister Alice is back, and in this week’s Batwoman #16 Kate Kane has to battle Batman himself to keep her alive. It’s not the first time that her relationship with Alice has made things complicated for Batwoman, either. Alice, aka Elizabeth Kane, is Kate Kane’s twin sister, presumed dead after a childhood kidnapping by a terrorist organization. In the years since she first appeared as the criminal lunatic Alice, she has both battled Batwoman and fought by her side as an ally, and was most recently sent to an asylum in the hopes that her Alice persona could be treated.
However, the past four issues of DC’s Batwoman (an arc titled ‘The Fall Of The House Of Kane’) have seen Alice’s return in all her insane glory, with a new plan to attack Gotham. She planned to unleash a plague of bats over the city, infected with a virus – and while the bats were destroyed at the end of Batwoman #15, Alice is still at large, and Batman warns Batwoman that if she doesn’t ‘do her duty’, he will… and that’s not the only threat he levels at Batwoman this issue!
The issue begins with Batman’s threat to take down Alice if Batwoman won’t, telling her that he believes Kate has lost control of her sister and that Alice needs to be sent to Arkham. Kate, however, pleads with Batman to allow her to keep trying to help Elizabeth/Alice her way, because if she is sent to Arkham, she will become Alice permanently. As the story continues, we see Kate fighting three battles; one against Alice, as she tries to bring Elizabeth back, one against Batman, as she tries to stop him hurting her sister, and one against herself, as she struggles to take down Batman after all he has done for her.
In the end, though, Kate chooses family over the Bat, and manages to knock down and pin Batman with a giant ‘K’ (part of a sculpture). She tells him that she has to deal with her family herself, and attempts to explain her need to protect her sister… but Batman throws one last threat at her as he walks away. He tells her that this is her second strike, and when she asks what happens if she hits three, he responds ‘then you’ll never be Batwoman again’.
The first strike that Batman references here comes from Detective Comics #973, released January of this year, when the Bat-Family were dealing with an out-of-control Clayface. Batman had his plans to try and control Basil Karlo, but Batwoman believed that they would fail, and when she saw an opportunity to take him down (when he was returned to his human form), she shot him in the head… disobeying a direct order from Batman, who told her he would not have a Colony weapon used in Gotham. This means that now, Kate Kane has fought Batman on his orders twice in a short span – once to kill someone, and once to save them.
While the loss of Kate Kane’s name as Batwoman would represent a major rift in the Bat-Family, it looks like this is the direction that DC is headed. With two strikes in only five months, we may even see Kate disowned by Batman by the end of the year, although there’s no telling what her third strike may be (or if it will be to save or to slaughter). Of course, this isn’t guaranteed to happen, but it’s a solid bet – and should make a fascinating story, as Kate and the other members of the Bat-family deal with the fallout as Batman bids farewell to his friend.
Batwoman #16 is now available from DC Comics.