Batwoman #6 (DC Comics)
There’s ways to do the good-guy-gone-bad story and make it work. The more successful ones have to play into the character doing the switch: what motivation do they have for going bad? What are their tools? What does that look like for their relationships? And – this is a big one – can they come back from it? Do you want them to?
Marvel utterly fails when answering any of the questions on this list. They made Tony Stark into a fascist and spent a decade trying to fix him, turned their core heroes into mass murderers and then had to reboot their universe to save them, and then turned the moral center of their whole universe into a Nazi. So, you know. They suck.
DC, on the other hand…
We’ve ragged on DC Comics in the past, but their Rebirth event has led to a rebirth of the creativity and core concepts that make DC’s properties great. Pretty much everything they’re publishing at this point is worth taking a look at and more than half of it is worth collecting. They started doing operatic scale stories again and rooting them in place with some of the best writers the industry has.
The two writers working on this title? They are among them. James Tynion IV and Marguerite Bennett are fucking fantastic. James has a talent for building character and mythology and Marguerite plays in mythology with the same difficulty that fish find in swimming. This is to say, she lives in myth. You show her a myth and she’ll expand it, grow it, cultivate it.
No character in DC Comics needs a myth-pert quite like Batwoman does. She’s unique among the Bat-family, both where she stands in relation to Bruce and what made her pick up the mantle. We all know that Bruce’s mom’s name is Martha, but her maiden name was Kane. She had a brother named Joe who was in the military, and that brother had a couple of twins: the surviving twin is Kate, which makes Batwoman Bruce’s cousin.
It gets better. Joe is a colonel who got into diplomacy. When Kate was a child, she and her mom and her sister got kidnapped and dad led a rescue operation that saw her mom and sister die. Kate got into the military and excelled, but then was kicked out under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and lost the one thing she’d built her life around.
She bummed around for a bit. Got drunk a lot. Had a fling with Renee Montoya. Was wandering through an alley in Gotham and got mugged and beat the crap out of her attackers, turned around and saw… she saw Batman. He said something about expecting that to go differently and then took off and she watched and thought to herself That. I want to do that.
Her dad helped her. Finished her training and put her through some black-ops stuff, got her the equipment she needed, helped her keep it together. She met Batman and started working with him, not knowing who she was (which, I imagine, made Hannukah a special kind of celebration. Did I mention Kate is Jewish, Martha was Jewish, and therefore Batman is a Jew?).
One question sort of bugged the astute reader, though: how did Joe put all this stuff together? James was kind enough to answer, giving us a villain like nothing else – a black-ops unit based on Batman himself that Joe was putting together for Kate to lead, but by the time he has ready to bring her into the fold it was too late. Bruce had already put together a team for her, and Bruce’s code had affected Kate and her way of thinking. She helped take down her father.
And from out of all that you get this, a Batwoman solo series. It is steadily moving towards the dream-like art and narrative that was the hallmark of the series prior and this is the best thing, the sort of thing that might help us put the grimdark past behind us. It’s also why you need a writing team this strong, though, one that can dig into Kate’s past and present to define her future.
Here, we get a look at the darkest timeline, a quick look at a possible waiting future. There, Kate has embraced the fate her father built for her and is looking to turn all the power that gives her on Gotham. We caught a glimpse of this before, but here James and Marguerite dig into the guts of the thing and show us why Kate went bad.
This comic is a little bit more than awesome and a return to form, so if you get the chance to read it? Do so. You will not be disappointed.