WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Batwoman #16, in stores now, written by Marguerite Bennett with art by Fernando Blanco and Dan Panosian. Michael Cho provided the issue's variant cover.
There aren't many people in the DC Universe that know Bruce Wayne's superhero identity as a costumed vigilante who roams the grotesque-dotted rooftops of Gotham City. Those who do know are sworn to secrecy, but that doesn't make them any less dangerous. Such is the case with Kate Kane, Batwoman, in Batwoman #16. The issue sees Kate go toe-to-toe with Batman in a fight she knows she can't win. So, her back to the wall, Kate does what she does best when cornered. She fights dirty, and in the process further fractures her relationship with Batman -- but it's all for the greater good.
How did we get here? Kate and Bruce are cousins, so, naturally, they go way back, long before either one decided to don a cape and cowl to fight crime. They know each other's life stories and have suffered similar losses -- Bruce's mother and father were killed in front of him when he was a young boy, Kate's mother and sister were seemingly murdered by kidnappers not long after. One would think that familial bond would count for something, and, for quite some time, it did. But there's only one thing that can test such a bond -- even closer family.
Batwoman #16 concludes an arc that revolves around the reemergence of Red Alice, the alter ego of Beth Kane, Kate's sister. Beth was abducted from her treatment facility in Geneva by Tahani (who has her own extensive history with Kate) and drugged up to the point that her Red Alice persona appears again, all in service of hurting Kate. The fight makes its way to Gotham proper and Batwoman is able to stop a colony of infected bats from exposing the city to a devastating plague. When Batman arrives on the scene he demands that Beth be taken into custody, which can only mean a trip to Arkham Asylum.
Kate wants to keep her sister close and knows that a trip to Arkham means even further trauma for her fractured persona. She flees from Batman, which is a nigh impossible task, attempted by countless throughout the years. Kate knows this, which is why she has a failsafe rigged. The failsafe draws not from her knowledge of Batman, but from her cousin, Bruce Wayne. It's a simple audio clip, but it preys on Bruce Wayne's greatest fear. The audio clip is that of a gunshot, from the same type of gun that killed Bruce's parents. The clip staggers Batman, giving Batwoman enough time to make her case.
It's a dirty trick, but it's also the kind of fear-based tactic Batman has employed when dealing with truly terrifying foes. In the end, Kate gets chided for turning against her colleague and using such an underhanded tactic, but she is able to give her sister what she needs -- another shot at living a normal life. That's something she almost certainly would not receive in Arkham.
Available in comic book shops now, Batwoman #16 is written by Marguerite Bennett with art by Fernando Blanco and Dan Panosian. The issue's variant art was provided by Michael Cho.