The long awaited showdown between Batwoman and Batman is just beyond the horizon. In this calm before the storm Kate Kane takes the time she has left to be with her fiancée, GCPD Detective Maggie Sawyer, while Bette Kane and the Murder of Crows kidnap a DEO Agent to find out the location of Kate’s sister.
I’ve really been enjoying the current arc of Batwoman, but I couldn’t help but have this feeling that something was missing. Despite having a strong presence in the first four arcs, Maggie Sawyer didn’t have much of a role in this one. Her absence pays off, however, as J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman bring things full circle to the start of this arc. In Batwoman #19 Maggie Sawyer wakes up in a startled manner and drenched in sweat from a horrific nightmare (Kate accidentally dosed Maggie with a concentrated dose of Scarecrow’s Fear Toxin back in Batwoman #8, which left Maggie with nightmares that have plagued her since). Kate pleaded to Maggie for let her help her through this, but Maggie tells her she couldn’t begin to understand it unless she’d been through it herself. This is obviously something that’s been weighing on Kate as of late and she’d determined to make things right with her fiancée. In an attempt to show Maggie how much she loves her Kate injects herself with the same dose of Fear Toxin so that she can finally understand what it was that Maggie had to go through.
What ensues is 12 hours of screaming and nightmares for Kate as artist Trevor McCarthy beautifully and hauntingly lays out a somewhat surreal picture of what Kate’s going through. Her nightmares are all very much relevant and reflective of her current worries and troubles in life, and it’s something that the writing and art team handle masterfully. In fact I can’t really think of anything that the art team didn’t handle with perfection in this issue. The dialogue between Kate and Maggie was meaningful and emotional, the exposition interesting and compelling, and the art was just simply rich and evocative
Meanwhile, Bette Kane and the Murder of Crows have been preparing to go up against the D.E.O. in order to free Kate’s sister, Beth, who has been held as leverage over Kate. With almost everything in place for their mission they kidnap a D.E.O. agent in order to find out exactly where Beth is being held. While the Crows take the physical manner and attempt to beat Beth’s location out of him, Bette takes a more creative and intelligent approach. Having read Agent Asaf’s personnel file Bette was able to make a very compelling argument as to why it would be best to give up the information. I really enjoyed Bette’s storyline in this issue because not only did it deviate from the standard ‘beat it out of him’ approach you normally see, but it also goes to show how far Bette has come since the start of Batwoman. She’s no longer an arrogant and over-confident brat, traits which almost got her killed in Batwoman #4, and thanks to the training of her Uncle and the Murder of Crows she’s not only learned restraint but has really grown into a strong and capable character in her own right.
That we have to wait two months for the next issue.
Although I’ve always been a fan of the stories that J.H Williams III and W. Haden Blackman tell, it’s truly the characters they’ve written that have made me fall in love with Batwoman. They’ve made it so easy to become emotionally invested in these characters and I really care about them. There’s a conversation between Kate and Maggie when she finally awakes that simply warms your heart. The two of them have such fantastic chemistry and are in such love with each other that you can genuinely feel it coming off the pages. Williams, Blackman, and McCarthy deliver an absolutely incredible issue and there wasn’t a single page, let alone panel, that I didn’t enjoy reading or end up going back to look at the art once more.