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The Bat-Family Puts Batman on Trial in Detective Comics - But Why?

Jason Todd steps and concedes that his position is in support of Batwoman, but for unexpected reasons. His condemnations aren't of Kate, but are instead levied against Batman himself. Jason largely sees this assembly put together by Batman not to judge Kate for her assassination of Clayface, but instead to judge her for breaking the golden rules of Batman. To Jason, the issue isn't Basil Karlo's death – it's that Kate disobeyed Bruce. Jason's statement not only gives Kate her first vote of confidence, but also turns it against his mentor.

A melancholy Batman remains surprisingly restrained, and turns to Barbara Gordon, who puts forth the most scathing condemnation yet – only it's again directed at Bruce. Barbara turns the discussion away from Kate and back to Bruce himself, and his motives for creating the Gotham Knights in the first place.

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Barbara cites Tim's reasons for creating The Belfry, and alleges that Bruce's reasons for allowing Batwoman to join were his own, and not necessarily aligned with Tim's vision of protecting Gotham. Levying dual accusations at Bruce, Barbara believes that his reasons for enlisting Kate weren't to oversee the team, but instead for him to oversee her.

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Kate's father Jacob Kane, after all, has the paramilitary group known as The Colony under his control, and has eagerly tried to recruit his own daughter to its ranks. Barbara accuses Bruce of welcoming Kate solely to keep her away from her father – an accusation Bruce noticeably doesn't deny.

It's Barbara's second point, though, that's perhaps most damning to Bruce. Barbara further alleges that Bruce simply recruited Kate because, as his cousin, Kate is the closest living relative to his mother, Martha. Barbara surmises that Martha herself just might have wanted Bruce to commit the same act Kate did, implying that this tribunal is Bruce's conflicted response to actions that his mother might have called for – ones that he himself opposes.

In questioning Bruce's own motives, Barbara deflects the discussion away from Kate, turning the trial of Batwoman instead into an impromptu trial of Batman himself.

Why Bruce Is So Conflicted

If Bruce does indeed see Kate as the closest living person to his mother, Barbara's allegations imply a potential shake-up to his core beliefs. The Bat-symbol has long stood against killing for any reason, but do Kate's words hint that Bruce's mother might have believed differently? Batman, who historically has held a zero-tolerance policy towards killing, has been uncharacteristically indecisive regarding Batwoman's deserved fate – the very trial he has called for confirms this. Does Bruce see something in Kate that he remembers in his mother, that is staying his hand from a harsher sentence? Or is there perhaps something deep down inside Bruce that's telling him what he doesn't want to acknowledge – that Kate was right?

Regardless, Batman's trial of Batwoman has failed to yield any kind of decisive vote, and in fact has brought into questions his motives as much as her own. While there is no consensus on her return, her days as a Gotham Knight nonetheless seem to be over. As do those of the Gotham Knights themselves, for if this trial achieved anything, it was to further fracture the team.

The perhaps-ironically titled "Batmen Eternal" arc begins in Detective Comics #976, on sale March 14, and stands to explore the fallout from the team's division.

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