Batwoman #16 cover

Review – Batwoman #16: Fighting Batman To Save Alice

Comic Books DC This Week
Batwoman #16 variant cover
Image via DC Comics

Batwoman #16 – Marguerite Bennett, Writer; Fernando Blanco, Artist; John Rauch, Colorist

Ratings:

Ray – 8.5/10

Corrina:  Sisters

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW

Ray: The conclusion of “The Fall of the House of Kane” in Batwoman #16 comes with only two issues left in this series, and Marguerite Bennett undoubtedly packs a lot of emotional power and drama into this final showdown. At the same time, though, it pushes us further down a path for Kate that I’m not all that enthusiastic about, even if the execution is top notch. Kate has been struggling to protect Gotham from an army of plague-carrying Bats unleashed by her mentally ill sister Alice at the behest of her rival Tahani, but the last issue introduced another wrinkle – Batman, here to take down the criminal who has threatened his city. Kate only sees her sister to protect, while Batman sees just another maniac. That gives this hero vs. hero showdown a lot more emotional power than most (I’m reminded of the movie, Captain America: Civil War, or “Flash War,” much more than the comic Civil War). After a tense initial segment where Kate and Julia manage to get through to Alice and get her to destroy the detonator, the focus shifts to the battle of the Bats.

Kate makes some very good points here, namely the fact that Arkham is not any sort of actual treatment facility and has not helped any of Batman’s villains, but she doesn’t really seem to have a plan herself. Alice has gotten out of everywhere she put her, of course. However, Batman seems overly single-minded and ruthless. This may factor in the fact that Batman and Batwoman are currently semi-estranged due to her decision to kill Clayface (something neither of them knows didn’t take). I overall sympathized more with Kate’s perspective in this issue, but what she does out of desperation late in the issue – and the fact that she had this prepared for Bruce if she needed it – displayed a ruthlessness that makes it very hard to take her side. I don’t like the idea that Batman has any say over whether she can continue to be Batwoman, but it’s easy to understand his reaction. Looking forward to the Renee Montoya-centric arc that’s going to wrap up this current run, and hopefully, Kate is off to a good landing place – maybe Outsiders?

Batwoman #16 page 3
Trying to reason with Alice and Batman. Image via DC Comics

Corrina: Things I loved:

Kate’s relationship with her sister, Alice’s tentative steps back into reality, the bond that holds them together even through tragedy.

Things that frustrated me:

Batman in this issue. He seems to lack any of the compassion that he’s displayed toward Kate recently in Batman: Detective Comics. I know there should be some conflict between them about Alice but…it’s also clear that Alice is mentally ill and, thankfully, someone finally acknowledged that Arkham Asylum is a symbol of how horribly the Gotham-verse and the DC-universe as a whole deal with mental illness.

Kate is right–Alice needs a treatment facility. Hell, most of the Arkham residents need one. But in Gotham, mental illness seems to mean evil and murderous. (That’s not a comment on Bennett’s writing, just a general complaint.)

Alice was getting better where Kate had her and Alice didn’t break out of that place, she was taken. Besides, it’s not like Arkham itself is anything but a revolving door for villains. So while Ray thought the Batwoman/Batman conflict was intense–and it was–it also seemed a bit artificial to me. Similarly, the Batman having a say in Kate’s costume and code-name also seems weird, too. I mean, Jason Todd is running around with a Bat on his costume and no one stops him–and he’s certainly as ruthless as Kate, if not more so.

Where to go from here? Despite my frustrations, I’m sad to see the title ending and I look forward to the last arc with Montoya.

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1 thought on “Review – Batwoman #16: Fighting Batman To Save Alice

  1. The point was brought up in Snyder’s Batman, Simone’s Batgirl and Lobdell’s Red Hood series in New 52.

    The lack of resources for mental illness is one of the more realistic elements of the universe, unfortunately. The only characters that make meaningful improvements in their criminal behavior are those with strong bonds to family or found family–Poison Ivy, Clayface, James Jr. and Crux are the most immediate examples.

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