Batwoman #12 – Marguerite Bennett, Writer; Scott Godlewski, Artist; John Rauch, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Corrina: The Secret Is Out
Ray: After a one-issue absence for a fill-in, Marguerite Bennett returns in Batwoman #12 to lay bare the secrets of Kate’s time on the island of Coryana, and what led to her falling out with the mysterious Safiyah. The last issue saw it officially revealed that Safiyah was still alive, and Kate is hot on her tail, but the issue is almost entirely a flashback. When it starts, Kate has been living blissfully on Coryana for the better part of a year, but then the foxes start dying, of a mysterious disease. As the scientists on the island desperately try to save them, mercenary Maksim stands accused of poisoning them at a show trial. In his anger, he threatens Safiyah, and while she appears to forgive him his trespass, she orders his execution as soon as he steps out of the building, a brutal and public spectacle that Kate witnesses – and realizes that she’s been sharing a bed with a serpent for the last year.
Ultimately, this comic is about leaving an abusive relationship more than anything else. Safiyah is charming, beautiful, and has never treated Kate poorly – but that’s only because Kate has never given her a reason to want to. The reveal about the foxes, and the way Safiyah uses it to manipulate Kate, is chilling, as is the segment where Kate realizes she needs to get off the island before she winds up like Maksim. The action, once it starts, is among the best scenes of the series, as Kate desperately races the lighthouse that will give her access to the boats she needs to flee the island – just as Safiyah deputizes her loyal assassin Tahani to hunt Kate down and either bring her back or finish her off, with Tahani far preferring the latter option. Scott Godlewski’s art is among the best of his career, especially in the final few pages. This title has been consistently strong since issue one, and it’s really picking up now.
Corrina: It’s hard not to compare this comic to the last arc of Bombshells United, which also features Bennett writing Kate Kane, albeit one with a slightly different history.
The style of the Batwoman comic, however, is far different from the style of Bombshells United, which makes a comparison harder, and yet I can’t help feeling that Batwoman‘s regular series suffers a bit in comparison, mainly because it’s taken so very long for this to play out with Coryana and Safiyah. A noir style suits Batwoman but we saw her land on Coryana in the first issue and it feels artificial that this secret took so long to play out, especially when it’s been clear Safiyah survived for some time.
For this backstory to be effective, I wanted to feel the bond between Kate and Safiyah and, somehow, I still don’t know what drew one to the other, save perhaps Kate wanted to be kept and Safiyah is good at keeping people. But I’d have liked to see a bit of true affection or connection between them to make this betrayal hurt and to understand why Kate finds this so painful. Perhaps it’s just because Kate feels responsible for not seeing what her lover was or because she was glad to drift for a time and, fair enough.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.