“Batwoman #19” is a Bloody Affair

Batwoman #19, which hit shelves today and marks the second issue without J.H. Williams‘ art, left readers with one lingering, frustrating, inexplicably unanswered question: Why have we not yet seen a visual/narrative follow-up to Kate’s marriage proposal to Maggie?! Yes, we heard Maggie call Kate her “fiance” while apartment shopping in #18. Yes, we get a two-page spread of them sharing a bed together in said apartment in this issue. But we still haven’t seen any of the immediate aftermath of Kate Kane revealing her identity as Batwoman and asking her girlfriend to gay marry her. I mean, it’s kind of a big deal, both socio-politically and comic-book-ly.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Batwoman #19 picks up exactly where #18 left off: On the beach with Agent Chase. She met up with a cryptic person at the end of #18, and I confess I was hoping (at least a little bit) for it to be Renee Montoya, back to questions Kate’s marriage question as the Question. But actually, it’s Chase’s sister, Terry. If you’ve never read Chase, the main thing you need to know as it relates to Batwoman right now is that her dad was a wannabe superhero who formed a ragtag team of like-minded crime-fighters called The Justice Experience. They were pre-Justice League without the talent/superpowers, and so Chase and Terry’s dad, Acro-Bat, was obviously murdered while in costume. It led Chase to doing what she does now and Terry to moving all around and acting aloof and also gorgeous. Anyway, Chase flies all the way to some paradise or other to ask how her sister feels about the eradication of all superheroes and Terry is like, “Whatever, I’m going surfing.”

It doesn’t really move the story forward and it takes up four-and-a-half pages, at least three of which could have been used to show us Kate and Maggie’s engagement.

Actually, though, the thing that’s happening right now is we’re learning about everyone’s family ties. So, that’s Cam and Terry. What about Maggie? Well, she’s got a daughter she loves very much and a fiance she loves very much, and now every night of her life she is dreaming that a half-masked Batwoman discovers her dead daughter’s body in the river after being drowned by the Weeping Woman. Kate wants to help, wants to console her, wants to at least hold her while she thrashes around and cries in her sleep — but Kate kept a huge secret for a really long time, so Maggie’s going to keep hers for at least a little while longer. (Also, Kate has bangs now.)

The other blood-ties thing, of course, is the Kane family’s twisty-turny hero-lineage. Katherine insists on tag-teaming with Jacob to train Bette/Hawkfire because frankly Jacob’s family training thus far has resulted in a turnout of 50 percent psychopathic supervillains. Jake agrees and then he comes clean with one more thing: He’s probably got a son. (Bones?!)

While that little bomb fizzles over the Kane house, Bette and Kate are out fighting crime together. Actually, they’re fighting Shard, who is prowling around attacking off-duty D.E.O. Agents. The discovery leads to a confrontation in which Hawkfire demands to know Batwoman’s deal with the D.E.O., partly because she promised Jake she’d get he intel and partly because she’s still really confused about how Batwoman wears the Bat symbol but operates with complete autonomy from the Bat-family. Kate has the balls to actually call the bat her symbol, which very nearly causes Bette’s head to explode. Bette says if Kate can’t trust her with her D.E.O. secret she can’t trust Kate with her life. Partnership off!

So, Batwoman zips on over to the D.E.O. yacht to shout at Chase — who is sexily lounging around in a suit, shouldering a golf club, like a regular ol’ homo — to release some tension. But once she’s on the yacht, she finds out two things that bamboozle her: 1) While Batman is mourning the death of Robin, they want Kate to seize on his grief and unmask him. 2) Because Beth is alive and they’re holding her hostage.

Estranged sisters! Zombie sisters! Quarreling cousins! Surprise sons! Dream-dead daughters! DC wasn’t going for subtlety when they called this arc “This Blood is Thick.”

Before I go, I just need to mention how jarring the art shift was in Batwoman #19. Trevor McCarthy did #18 also, but it was very much a Williams homage. He gave us a couple of Williams-esque two-page spreads this time, but he’s definitely shifting to his own style. I like it, but it’s going to take some getting used to.

What did you think of Batwoman #19?