NOTE: This article contains SPOILERS for Batwoman: Rebirth #1
She too her place in the spotlight with the relaunch of Detective Comics as part of DC Comics' company-wide "Rebirth," meaning a new wave of readers learned what so many knew already: Kate Kane is a force to be reckoned with. As the series from writer James Tynion IV cemented Batwoman as every bit the leader Batman was himself, it became harder to see how she could be confined to a single title for long. As if hearing the renewed interest as a clear demand, DC soon announced that Batwoman: Rebirth was coming over the horizon.
The first comic in the new Batwoman series has now arrived, offering - like most other Rebirth #1 issues - a look back at the heroine's extensive history, while preparing new readers for her next chapter. Tynion and Marguerite Bennett join forces for the retrospective, but offer a glimpse of Kate Kane's future, too. And suffice it to say, Kate's going to be launching her series in a role many will be shocked to witness. In fact, the issue's final reveal is so confusing to newcomers, we're taking it upon ourselves to offer some context.
The question of how Kate Kane will end up commanding armed forces into Gotham City is one only the series itself will answer, but if you're jumping on Kate's journey with Batwoman: Rebirth #1, a quick refresher is most definitely called for.
Batman's Monster Venom Hint
The Rebirth one-shot chronicles Kate Kane's life from childhood to the current DC continuity, and beyond, but the final sequence may be the most confusing for new readers. Bookending the story as fragments of her life, each embodied in a partner (romantic or vigilante) posing the question as to where Kate will go next is an effective way of establishing Kate as her own kind of hero. But one scene in particular set after the events of the "Night of the Monster Men" crossover helps fill in the gaps of Kate's existing "Rebirth" story - setting the stage for her final decision.
Readers already had the chance to see Batwoman's solo story begin in previous issues of Detective, with Bruce calling her in to help investigate strange happenings surrounding the monstrous, Venom-mutated corpses left behind by the kaiju attack. But this exchange, clearly one with a sense of finality to Bruce and Kate's status quo, is something new. With the same Monster Venom used to turn these everyday humans into towering monstrosities inching its way toward the highest bidder, Batman asks Kate if she knows what has to be done... if she known what she needs to do.
Tackling the issue outside of Gotham means more resources, and someone to take on the mission besides Batman. Thankfully, we know which scenes in Detective Comics must have followed this new exchange...
Batwoman's Own 'Blacklist'?
If you've followed Batwoman's story in the past, then you know it was her father, Colonel Jacob Kane who helped build Kate into the hero she is today. As a military man who lost his wife and daughter to a war, Kate became his entire world - making it even more devastating when her attempts to follow in his footsteps as a military woman were sidelined by her sexual identity. He chose her over the military, and helped find a new way to fight war - using the Batman as an inspiration. And if you've been reading Detective Comics, you know how far that desire took Jacob in the Rebirth continuity.
Colonel Jacob Kane went on to build an entire covert branch of the military known as The Colony, comprised of an army of soldiers, each trained to fight as effectively as the Dark Knight. In essence, an army of Batmen. When Jacob finally revealed his project to his daughter, he did so with the intention of placing her at its zenith - the ultimate integration of her ability to lead an army as a true commander, and the knowledge and experience gained at Batman's side. But it was Batman's moral conscience that rubbed off the most, convincing Kate that innocent lives didn't need to be sacrificed for a greater good... creating a rift between the Kanes, and pitting them against eachother as enemies.
Jacob wound up on the losing end, but when news arrived of the Monster Venom reaching the black market - having been stolen by Jacob's remaining Colony forces - Kate had no choice. Well, actually, we now know that she made her choice with Batman some time earlier. Approaching Jacob's cell, she agreed to work with him to track down a list of sites, and soldiers, all with the intention of stopping the Monster Venom threat before it began. Fans knew it wasn't going to be easy to work with her father once more, but Batwoman: Rebirth #1's conclusion shows just what her new mission will actually entail.
Kate Kane's Rebirth: Commander of The Colony?
The image of Kate standing ready for combat, rifle in hand, Colony insignia emblazoned on her chest, and being referred to as 'Commander' by Colony soldiers is a bit of a stunner. The captions in the issue denote these scenes as occurring "Soon," meaning they're to be taken as a glimpse of the story Tynion and Bennett are beginning to unfold. The sudden appearance of Kate at the head of the former villains - and the grin that spreads across her face as she orders them to "open fire" - may imply a turn towards the villainous (especially in an age where Marvel's mascot can become Earth's greatest threat).
But Kate Kane is a soldier, and pursued a military career that would one day see her commanding men into battle. So it's possible that her grin may simply be due to satisfaction of that lifelong dream - stolen from her by the U.S. military - regardless of the context. Kate is a hero, after all, and with Monster Venom her stated goal, the return to Gotham and willingness to begin an engagement implies her foe may not even be human. Still, you don't write an ending like that without intending to stir up some uncertainty about just where Kate's "Rebirth" will take her.
And with a glimpse of where the story is headed, Batwoman #1 will begin the actual story of where Kate Kane's first steps begin.
Batwoman: Rebirth #1 is available now.