Hey guys, remember when I wrote that post about how great the Batwoman series was and how Kate “Batwoman” Kane and her fiancée Maggie “Captain of Major Crimes with Gotham PD” Sawyer worked together in the story and how Kate didn’t do that lame cliché “noble sacrifice” of giving up her relationship because obviously Maggie is a grownass woman who can make her own decisions? ‘Member that? Yeah, scratch that.
For Volumes 5 and 6, Marc Andreyko takes over writing duties from J.H. Williams III who quit because the suits at DC wouldn’t let him tell his story the way he wanted.
The style of Andreyko’s run is much more cartoony. And I don’t just mean the artwork. The world feels much less grounded and the characters far less fleshed out. Now, I don’t want to give the impression that I just automatically hate the new run because it isn’t Williams. In fact, I’d rather Andreyko bring his own style to Batwoman than try to imitate what came before him. It can be refreshing and fun to see a character depicted in a new way so if he wants to put Batwoman in a more fantastical world then the more power to him. I actually would have liked to see more of the medievalized Gotham time travel bit. And the re-design of Kate’s sister Elizabeth as Red Alice was pretty awesome.
A Brief Wrap-Up
Volume 4 ends with Batwoman and Batman fighting. Batman tells Batwoman to stop and she says no. As far as I’m concerned that’s how that story ends. Volume 5 picks up at that point and does a decent job wrapping it up, but we’ll never know how it was really meant to end. The end of this storyline also marks the departure of the DEO and Agent Chase (boo!) and the last time Maggie is involved in the main story in any meaningful way, besides standing around at crime scenes.
I Love You So I’ma Dump Your Ass… Cool?
Anyway, moving on to the true start of the new run. Right off the bat (ha!), Maggie and Kate are given completely separate storylines. Oh, and I guess we’re supposed to forget about that time they got an apartment because for some reason they don’t live together. Maggie has no real involvement in the Batwoman/crimefighting element of the story and is relegated to a custody battle. And, of course, we all know how that is going to end: Kate “selflessly” ends their relationship so that Maggie doesn’t have to choose between blah, blah, blah. This is stupid for a whole lot of reasons. Let me tell you a few.
1. The whole catalyst for this is supposed to be Maggie’s daughter, Jamie, walking in on Kate all bruised and battered.
Yeah, it’s kind of traumatizing to see your mom’s girlfriend bleeding onto the bathroom floor. And sure, having a costumed vigilante as a fiancée isn’t the safest. But you know what else isn’t safe in Gotham? Being a cop. Hell, being a citizen. It’s never implied that the kid realizes that Kate is Batwoman so really all this can be cleared up in 3 simple words: “I got mugged”. I mean, she can’t be blamed for being the victim of a crime, right? Right? (Hint: this is foreshadowing.)
2. Maggie is never torn nor is she shown having second thoughts. She crossed the whole “I’m dating Batwoman” bridge a while ago and let’s face it, as a cop, if Kate is ever unmasked Maggie’s screwed whether she’s dating her or not. Having Kate make the decision for her and presenting this as a selfless gesture asks us to believe that Maggie (again, a grownass woman) doesn’t know what’s best for her or her child and also that she’s incapable of being both a mother and in a relationship. There’s a weird, hopefully unintentional, implication that a single mother is somehow more preferable to two married women with a child. And that caving to the homophobic pressure from the ex-husband is somehow noble. Which brings me to…
3. Kate leaving actually weakens Maggie’s case. From what we’ve seen (and judging by the fact that Kate has never actually met the kid before) the ex-husband pretty much has full custody anyway so they have everything to gain from using the top family lawyer that Kate threw her money at. I mean, even accounting for a judge’s bias on account of the gay, it’s pretty rare for the father to get full custody. The kid loves her mother and it’s not exactly hard for a lawyer to spin Kate as a positive: she’s super rich and from a respected family and it’s not like the ex-husband claim she’s a shallow socialite with poor morals; she served in the damn army. And Kate’s got no day job so she can pick up the kid from school and junk. Which, y’know, is helpful to a full-time police detective. Like, maybe, working as a team would be the better than… eh, fuck it.
4. So hey, maybe Maggie considered her future wife to… I dunno… be part of her family? And didn’t view this as an either-or situation? Because why the hell would she? Just a thought. Her reaction to the bruised and battered bathroom bonanza isn’t “GTFO”, it’s “I’m worried about you, here’s the card for a therapist I found helpful.”
5. What the fuck is wrong with that therapist that he reacts to Kate dumping Maggie with a “good for you”? He doesn’t know she’s Batwoman. In his mind how is Kate Kane a threat to her fiancée’s relationship with her child aside from the inconvenience of her being gay when the ex-husband is bitter and homophobic? People really need to stop implying that things are all Kate’s fault (again, more terrible foreshadowing). You know what would be worthy of a “good for you”? Standing by your goddamn woman and fighting for a future instead of making a sketchy deal with her doucheface ex-husband that Kate even acknowledges would piss Maggie the hell off if she found out.
But whatever, I guess it’s not really Andreyko’s fault that the powers that be didn’t want Batwoman to get married for “reasons”.
Enter the Vampire Seductress
So obviously what happens next is that Batwoman gets seduced by a mind-controlling vampire named Nocturna.
Nocturna has a history of marrying rich older men only to have them die mysteriously, leaving their fortunes to her. We first meet her in Arkham Asylum and eventually she gets out and has a couple rooftop fights with Batwoman.
Now… I can get behind the whole sexy lesbian vampire temptress thing. I have no qualms about that.
If Kate and Maggie must break up then we might as well have some fun playing around with a dark temptation we know won’t last. Here’s the problem: when I say Batwoman was “seduced”, what I really mean is “repeatedly date raped”. Because there is no room for any other interpretation. At the end of Volume 5, Nocturna sneaks into Kate’s bedroom and uses some mind control power BS that makes her see Maggie. Then we end on this image:
Batwoman is Wildly Uncomfortable… And So Am I
The next we see them, they’re in a “relationship” which Kate is far from enthusiastic about.
And in her scenes as Batwoman we see flashes of her going all murder-y and vampire-y. When her sister Beth (back as Red Alice) helps break the spell, Nocturna explains that she’s not a rapist because you can’t hypnotize someone into doing something they wouldn’t do in the waking world.
Now I understand why Andreyko did this. Having a plot where Batwoman is repeatedly raped is way too dark for a story where there’s a battle with a medieval witch in outer space. But you know what’s way darker than Batwoman being repeatedly raped? Having Batwoman being repeatedly raped and then saying IT’S ALL HER FAULT! I mean, Jesus. You might be thinking that you could explain this away by saying a rapist isn’t going to admit they’re a rapist, but Alice confirms this dumb hypnosis excuse so we’re clearly meant to take it as fact. It’s at this point that I should point out that this explanation is also complete bullshit.
It’s Called a SUBconscious For A Damn Reason
There’s no way you can convince me that Batwoman would ever try to kill two teen boys for spraypainting graffiti unless she wasn’t in control of her mind. And it’s clear she isn’t in control when it happens. Whenever she goes all batshit (ha!) crazy, she comes out of it clearly disoriented and she even mentions having blackouts. She doesn’t remember how she got the bites on her neck.
I feel like if she knew about that, it might just colour her opinion of Natalia somehow. Also, just WTF? Obviously if you’re hypnotizing someone you’re making them do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do or you wouldn’t need hypnosis. What Nocturna (Andreyko) really seems to mean is that Kate had all these desires subconsciously and Nocturna just made her act on them. Newsflash: that’s not how free will works. I mean, most of the time I’d like to hit Donald Trump upside the head with a tire iron. It doesn’t mean I’d ever actually do it. And if someone magically made me, you can’t blame me because I had the urge. It’s the same with sex. I think Nicole Da Silva’s super hot and I’ve probably said something to the effect of “I’d like to spend some sexy cuddletimes with her” (gasp!), but that wouldn’t make it okay for her to roofie me.
Nocturna’s whole argument boils down to: she wanted it. And there is no way of justifying that. No matter what Andreyko says. (See this article on the Mary Sue)
Now I don’t want to tell Marc Andreyko how to do his job, but here’s exactly how he should have written this story instead.
Regan Reyzja Tells Marc Andreyko How to Do His Job
1. Generally speaking, you want to avoid having to have your characters explain why they’re not a rapist (Fact: 99.9999% of all statements containing the words “I’m not a rapist” are made by rapists). So have Nocturna seduce Kate the old fashioned way. Natalia’s hot and we know from Kate leering at her at the courthouse that she thinks so too. Boom! There’s already at least a physical attraction to build on.
2. Nocturna brags about how easy it was to ensnare Kate. And this holds up. Kate’s in a pretty vulnerable position and Nocturna exploiting this ties way back to Renee Montoya’s assertion (after her own break-up with Kate) that Kate needs someone to look after her. Have Nocturna feed her that sob story about childhood trauma and being misunderstood early on because again it holds up that Kate would buy into this, especially if she’s in an emotionally fragile state.
3. I think Andreyko was trying to touch on Batwoman’s dark side, like… I think that was the point of the whole vampire thing? So fine. We know Kate has anger issues and trouble dealing with loss. We’ve seen it before. It’s pretty much the basis of her becoming Batwoman. So have Nocturna ease Kate’s slide back into bad habits like heavy drinking and being angry at the world.
4. Nocturna can use the classic abuser tactic of isolating Kate from her friends and family. (Hey, this could be the reason Red Alice comes around to check in!) Maggie’s (rightfully) pissed about being dumped by her fiancée with a note.
All Nocturna has to do is say to Kate: “That’s how she treats you after all you gave up for her?” See, it’s easier for someone with anger issues to be angry than hurt, so feeding Kate’s anger while pumping up her self-righteousness is way more effective (and cruelly manipulative) than playing the jealous girlfriend.
5. Build all this up, pushing Batwoman closer and closer to the line until she’s in danger of crossing it. Maybe even have her cross it and make everyone question her motivations. Then when Nocturna shows her true colours and tries to frame her for murder, it’s even more impactful because she didn’t use her powers to make Batwoman a believable perpetrator. Kate will have to face up to what she’s become and acknowledge her role in it. See THAT would warrant the ruminations of “I don’t know who I am anymore” that follow.
6. When Batwoman ends up fighting Nocturna in medieval Gotham, you could employ this thing called a character arc and instead of stomping Nocturna’s face in, Batwoman could knock her out and haul her ass to Arkham, thus proving her true colours (to herself as much as everyone else).
I dunno, to me, it just makes for a better story than “Yeah, I drugged you and made you think you were a vampire, but, like, you totes got some dark thoughts soooo…” *shrugs*
At least there’s a suggestion of a reconciliation with Maggie near the end.
Anyway, Volume 6 ends with “Future’s End”, a short, one-off (and I’m assuming non-canon) issue set 5 years in the future where Batwoman really is a vampire, throws Maggie off a building, kills a bunch of people, then is staked by her sister and dies. Oh, and BTW, this series got cancelled so that’s it. The end. K, bye!
And Now For Something Completely Different
You guys, you guys, Ohmygod, you guys… fuck all that noise above because I have the ultimate palate cleanser: Batwoman, Wonder Woman, and Super Girl uniting to fight in WWII.
It’s called “Bombshells” (ha!) and it was born of the Ant Lucia alternate covers that DC has been releasing that feature all their superheroes in ‘40s and ‘50s style get-up.
The series is written and drawn by two women, two Marguerites to be precise (Bennett and Sauvage), and it’s really fun. The art is bright and dreamy and pretty much ‘40s pin-ups come to life. Which is a pretty hilarious style to see our Broody Bat and Tough Cop in. (Because huzzah, they’re still together in this one!)
But it’s not just brainless, pulpy fluff. We get intelligent, caring portrayals. Wonder Woman questions the relevance of intentions versus consequences. Super Girl chats about the cycle of violence. Batwoman ponders a more meaningful life. And there are some great little background details.
Each issue is 99 cents so it’s well worth it. The first 3 are out now digitally and a new one is released each Saturday. Get it! Or don’t… I don’t know you. Linky Link!