SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Detective Comics #974 by James Tynion IV and Philippe Briones, on sale now.
As readers saw at the end of Detective Comics #973, Batwoman took decidedly fateful, and fatal, action against the grotesquely transformed and rampaging Clayface. James Tynion IV and Philippe Briones’ Detective Comics #974, the continuation of “Fall of the Batmen,” examines the reaction by the other Gotham Knights, now that one of them has indeed fallen.
While Basil Karlo is the one who fell by way of a bullet, it’s the rest of the team who stands to go down as a result of Batwoman’s actions. Her actions, in fact, seem to be leading her further down the road to the dark future forewarned by future Tim Drake, now Savior, as told in the preceding arc “A Lonely Place of Living.”
Was Savior Right About Batwoman?
Tomorrow Tim’s words, in fact, have already turned out to be remarkably prophetic. In issue #968, the conclusion of “A Lonely Place of Living,” he tells his younger counterpart that Batwoman “is going to hit the exact shattering point of everything you’ve built in Gotham.” Later in that issue, he goes on to tell Kate Kane herself that she destroys people “piece by piece.”
In a literal sense, his words take on a rather macabre context considering the way Clayface was killed, but future Tim was likely speaking more generally. While the Knights had already been fracturing from within – in part because of younger Tim’s drive and darker demeanor since his return – the current issue shows Karlo’s death to be the most divisive factor so far.
While Batwoman stands by her deadly decision, Batman, Orphan, Tim and Stephanie refuse to believe that no alternative existed to neutralize Clayface. She’s not alone in her convictions, though – Batwing and Azrael stand with her, citing the lives they believe to have been saved. Dismissing Batwoman from the team, Batman urges Batwing and Azrael to go with her if they so choose. Ironically, the recruitment of Clayface – one of Batman’s former villains – wasn’t enough to split the team, but his death serves as the impetus that may very well break them up. Karlo’s assassination certainly aligns with the kind of defining moment that would fit future Tim’s idea of a “shattering point.”
Will She or Won’t She?
It’s worthwhile noting that Kate didn’t make this decision rashly; in fact, her thawing relationship with her father had already pointed her down a path that stood to eventually put her at odds with the team. Then, you ave consider that Jacob Kane’s militaristic operation known as The Colony has already faced off against Batman’s team, and would have killed Tim if not for the timely intervention of Mr. Oz back in issue #940. So while future Tim’s accusations against Batwoman could be dismissed as part of a personal vendetta against her father, Kate’s own actions now lend a little more weight to his warnings.
After her ouster from the team, Kate ends up in the company of – who else – her father, who naturally commends her for her bold and deadly move. As the issue concludes, Jacob makes a seemingly enticing offer to his daughter: to fight at his side, against her now-former teammates. While the issue ends on a no-decision, Kate’s father has never been in a better position to win back the loyalty of his daughter. While jilted, though, there doesn’t seem to be sufficient reason for Kate to take up arms against the Knights, at least yet. The truth is, she might not have to – her actions have all but split the team already, bringing future Tim’s prophecy closer to fruition even if she were to take no further action.
Detective Comics #975, on sale February 28 and solicited as “The Trial of Batwoman,” could serve as the official turning point in her career as a Bat-emblazoned crimefighter.
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