BATWOMAN REBIRTH

BATWOMAN REBIRTH has a captivating and dark story with beautiful art. There’s also plenty of controversial situations. Kate Kane’s relationship with her father and sister, her love life, her sexuality, and the weight of the Bat symbol are all important themes in this narrative. The series was brought to us by Marguerite Bennett, James T. Tynion IV, K. Perkins, Fernando Blanco, Dan Panosian, Michael Cho, Steve Epting, J.G. Jones, Eddy Barrows, Lee Bermejo, Bill Sienkiewicz, and, Scott Godlewski.

Warning, potential spoilers for BATWOMAN REBIRTH are below!

A Small Introduction

BATWOMAN REBIRTH begins in Istanbul, where Batwoman is trying to complete a mission for Batman. She’s hunting down a man named Dr. Martine, who plans to inject himself with Monster Venom. Batwoman’s objective is to find out who’s going to sell the substance to the doctor. Dr. Martine takes the drug and turns into a tall monster. Batwoman fights him and wins, thus turning him back into a human. Dr. Martine reveals the distributor is the Many Arms of Death, an arms-dealing terrorist organization. Suddenly, a mysterious female assassin nails Martine in the head with a kunai knife. Batwoman tries to catch the murderer, but she escapes.

The introduction of the Many of Arms Death leads to a series of flashbacks of Kate’s past, which come back to haunt her in the present.

The Convergence of Batwoman’s Queer and Military Identities

We start off with Kate’s dark and traumatic past. In BATWOMAN: REBIRTH #1, we meet the twelve-year-old Kate Kane. Her mother and twin sister Elizabeth ‘Beth’ Kane lived in Brussels while her father, Jacob Kane, was in the military. On a seemingly ordinary day, Kate, her mother, and Beth were going out for chocolate and waffles. While they were driving down the street, a truck suddenly crashes into their car. A mysterious group of men kidnaps Kate and her family, resulting in her mother’s death. Her father and his unit show up carrying Kate — the only survivor — away from the horrific scene.

A Complicated Adulthood

We fast forward to twenty-year-old Kate Kane at West Point, sparring with another female soldier. The two flirt with one another, unaware of the officer eavesdropping on their conversation. At this point in time, being gay was a violation of the army’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Instead of lying when confronted on the matter, Kate instead says: “A cadet shall not lie, cheat or steal, nor suffer others to do so,” and departs from West Point.

BATWOMAN REBIRTH
BATWOMAN: REBIRTH #1 page 2. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Next, we move to twenty-three-year-old Kate Kane. During the “Lost Year” flashback in BATWOMAN #1, Kate’s sinking deep into the ocean. She hits her head on a rock and passes out. We see an unidentified woman pulling Kate away from sudden death and taking her into her home — the Desert Rose — on the island nation of Coryana. Kate wakes up to a man named Rafael, who explains he’s Safiyah’s right-hand man. We soon find out that Safiyah, “the mother of warlords,” is the woman that saved Kate’s life. In BATWOMAN #2, the Lost Year continues with Kate and Safiyah enjoying quality time together outside, illustrating that they’re lovers, but it doesn’t last forever.

Lovesickness in BATWOMAN REBIRTH

The love between Kate and Safiyah shatters in BATWOMAN #12. On the island, foxes are dying due to a rare bacteria found in red coral reefs. Kate and Safiyah were trying to discover how the disease made its way onto the island. Kate suspected that it could be pirates or smugglers. Safiyah assures Kate that she knows the culprit, a rogue warlord named Maksim. In retaliation, Safiyah has him killed.

Twists, Reveals, And Symbols Elevate BATWOMAN #12

Kate takes another look at the data she and Safiyah gathered and realizes that she was the one who made all the foxes sick. Safiyah confirms this and tries to justify killing an innocent man to protect Kate. Realizing the damage she’s done, Kate tries to leave Coryana. Safiyah sends Tahani (the mysterious assassin from the first issue) to prevent Kate from fleeing. Her efforts are futile, however, as Kate is able to escape in the end.

After leaving Coryana, Kate travels to Gotham where she goes to a bar and meets a woman named Renee. We learn in BATWOMAN #17 is that she’s an officer for the Gotham City Police Department. They dated for a little while. While narrating an inner monologue, we shift to an alleyway in Gotham where twenty-four-year-old Kate encounters Batman for the first time. Inspired, Kate trains with her father who, at the time, was stationed right outside Gotham. Once she’s ready, by twenty-seven Kate Kane becomes Batwoman.

Kate Kane’s Love Life

Kate gets herself into quite a few pickles because of who falls in love with her, and vice versa.

Because of everything that happened between Kate and Safiyah during the Lost Year, Tahani “the Knife” is one of the main antagonists of the series. Tahani believes Kate corrupted Safiyah and was the reason she left Coryana. So to get revenge on Kate, she uses her twin sister Beth for an evil plot. Tahani injects Alice with a chemical concoction to draw out her alter ego Alice, a deranged psychopath.

In BATWOMAN #18, Kate gets another chance to date Renee. However, in BATWOMAN #6 we see a glimpse of the future. In this snippet, while fighting the “New Batman’s” minions, Renee is fatally wounded. With a final kiss, she dies in Kate’s arms.

Kate had many different paths she could have taken to have her happy ever after. When Safiyah kept the truth from her, Kate could’ve forgiven her and stayed on Coryana. If Kate or Renee would’ve stopped fighting crime, they could’ve died of old age together instead of meeting a tragically short end.

Why Batwoman Being Jewish is So Important

Homosexuality in BATWOMAN REBIRTH

Kate’s sexuality is depicted positively in the series, except for when Kate was a cadet at West Point. Throughout BATWOMAN REBIRTH, Kate is shown in several same-sex relationships.

I commend DC and the creative team for the way they’ve handled this character. I’m happy to see that, for the most part, that Kate’s sexuality isn’t being demonized. I feel the way these relationships are illustrated is sensual, authentically loving, and deeply romantic.

The Weight of the Bat Symbol

As seen in BATWOMAN #6, we return to Kate’s first encounter with Batman. In this version of the flashback, Kate explains how the Bat symbol “saved her life and soul,” but was also “a warning and a weapon,” and something she wanted to wield for herself. During this time, Kate was an alcoholic. She ponders what her life would have been if Batman left her stumbling in the rain.

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BATWOMAN #6 page 2. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

In BATWOMAN #8, the Scarecrow exposes Kate to his infamous toxin, causing her to see her greatest fears. A hallucination of her father claims that Kate loves the bat symbol more than she loves her own family. BATWOMAN #14 continues this idea of using the bat as a weapon against Kate. Alice unleashes a sickness upon Gotham City with an infection created by Scarecrow, Tahani, and herself, hoping to demoralize Kate.

In this sense, the bat went from Kate’s inspiration and saving grace to her greatest regret.

Art Analysis

The richness of the art alone in BATWOMAN is enough to keep anyone reading. Yet there’s more than just admiring the colors, there’s also the brilliant imagery to consider.

The cover of BATWOMAN: REBIRTH #1 is honestly what drew my attention the series in the first place. As a newer reader, I wasn’t even aware Batwoman existed. Yet when I saw that intense, alluring color, her long red hair, and the mysterious vibe, I couldn’t pull myself away. You might even say that it was love at first sight!

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BATWOMAN #13 page 21. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

In BATWOMAN #13, on page twenty-one, we see Alice for the first time. I loved this page because of its sinister red hue. It’s a reveal of the main antagonist and a symbol of evil truth. Seeing Alice for the first time with that twisted smile and her intense eyes made me think how different she and Kate are, despite being twins. The Kane sisters are like yin and yang; so different, despite their similarities.

Goodbye to a Wonderful Series

I’m sad that this might be the last review I write about BATWOMAN REBIRTH. However, as mentioned in the BATWOMAN #18 review, a new chapter of Batwoman’s life might be just on the horizon. For example, we could get a chance to see Kate’s life with Renee on a deeper level, or maybe readers could finally watch her tie the knot. Our heroes have had enough trauma, they deserve happiness. Hopefully we’ll see more Batwoman in the future but, for now, we must say goodbye to our favorite siren.

BATWOMAN vol. 1 & 2 are available now in stores everywhere!

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