When her first love is abducted by the supervillain known only as Alice, Kate Kane returns home to Gotham City after spending years traveling the globe training with various combat and survival experts in the hopes of earning a place in her father's private security company. When he still refuses to offer her a position among his soldiers, The Crows, Kate finds her own path after discovering that her cousin Bruce Wayne is Batman.
Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams.
Ruby Rose delivers a powerhouse performance as Kate Kane. As much of an impression as she made during Elseworlds, she seems even stronger here.
The fight choreography is top-notch.
The character of Kate Kane first appeared in August 2006 in 52 #7. Her first appearance as Batwoman came four weeks later in 52 #11. She was created by writers Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid and writer/artist Keith Giffen, though Rucka is credited with writing most of her early appearances in the 52 mini-series.
Kate Kane based on an earlier character, Kathy Kane, who was introduced into the Batman comics in the 1950s as a love interest for Bruce Wayne, in order to throw off accusations of Batman and Robin presenting a relationship based on pedophilia and/or homosexuality. Ironically, it was decided that Kate Kane would be a lesbian, in order to add some diversity to the Batman comics.
The new Kate Kane was Bruce Wayne's first cousin on his mother's side. Kate hoped to follow in the footsteps of her father, US Army Colonel Jacob Kane, and enrolled in the US Military Academy at West Point. Unfortunately, Kate was discharged from The Academy after her romance with a fellow female Cadet was revealed to her commanding officer. While she was offered a chance to disavow the charge and let that be the end of it after facing a demotion in rank, Kate refused to violate the Honor Code by lying about being a lesbian rather than officially deny the charges that she had violated the Academy's policy against allowing lesbians to serve openly. Afterward, Jacob said that he was proud of Kate for refusing to lie and remaining true to herself.
Moving back to Gotham, Kate lived the life of a wealthy socialite and began dating police officer Rene Montoya. Their relationship ended because Rene refused to out herself, fearing that she would be abandoned by her devout Catholic parents and that it might cause trouble for her at work if it was known she was a lesbian.
An encounter with Batman inspired Kate to become a vigilante herself, after a mugger assailed Kate one night. Batman heard the sounds of conflict and arrived to discover Kate had subdued the mugger herself using her combat training. At first Kate fought crime using military equipment borrowed from her father. When her father discovered what she had been doing, rather than being angry, he sent Kate on a two-year journey around the world with some of his Special Forces friends to see Kate better trained for her chosen life. When she returned to Gotham, he gave her a custom-made Batwoman costume. It was not until later that the two learned of their blood relation to Batman.
The Arrowverse version of Kate Kane has a similar background, though the details are slightly different. Kate was discharged from a military academy other than West Point, but still refused to lie and violate the Honor Code after her romance with another Cadet, Sophie Moore. She traveled the world for several years training, but this was before she decided to become a vigilante. Perhaps most importantly, her father does not support her seeing combat and had planned to use his influence to get her a safe desk job after she graduated from The Academy.
In the original comics, Col. Jacob Kane was a career military man who acted as the Alfred to his daughter Kate's Batman, tending to her gear and providing her with intelligence via radio while she was in the field. Part of an elite squad known as The Murder of Crows, Kane also oversaw a secret US Army squadron known as The Colony, who were trained in the same skills exhibited by Batman to act as the ultimate anti-terrorist task force.
In the Arrowverse, Col. Kane runs a private security company that is utilized by Gotham City to augment the GCPD. Known as Crows Security, the company is renowned for only employing the best soldiers in the business.
Dougray Scott, who plays Jacob Kane, was the original choice to play Wolverine in the X-Men movies. An injury he acquired while riding his motorcycle forced him to leave the role, which eventually went to Hugh Jackman.
As in the comics, Jacob Kane's second wife is Catherine Hamilton. In the comics, she was heir to the Hamilton arms fortune. In the Arrowverse, she is a Gotham City Councilwoman but nothing has been said about her family's investments yet.
As in the comics, Catherine is the only person who addresses Kate as "Katie." As in the comics, Kate hates being called Katie.
The character of Mary Hamilton, Kate's stepsister, seems to be partly based on the character of Mary Elizabeth "Bette" Kane, who fought crime under the name Flamebird and harbored an obsessive crush on Dick "Robin" Grayson. She would later became Batwoman's sidekick in her comic series, fighting crime under the codename Plebe. Apart from the name, the only real connection Mary seems to have to Bette so far is an easily excitable personality and a tendency to talk too much.
Mary Hamilton is a medical school student who plays at being a shallow socialite. In truth, she's been stealing supplies from her school to run an illegal free clinic for needed individual in the slums of Gotham City. Bette Kane also played at being more shallow than she was to hide her superhero identity.
The illegal clinic Kate stumbles across is also a nod to the character of Dr. Mallory Kimball. Another ex-lover of Kate in the comics, she ran a clinic similar to the one Mary manages in the Arrowverse.
The scene where Kate wakes up in the clinic not knowing how she got there is taken directly from 52 #11.
The current police commissioner of Gotham City is said to be a man named Forbes. This could be a nod to Jack Forbes - a former Internal Affairs officer who became the interim Commissioner during the David Finch/Paul Jenkins run of Batman: The Dark Knight.
The current mayor of Gotham City has the lat name Akins. This could be a nod to Michael Akins, who was the current mayor of Gotham City in the Batman comics in 2019.
As in the comics, Kate's first love was fellow Cadet Sophie Moore. When Kate met Sophie again in the comics years after they broke up, she was a Colonel in the US Army and overseeing a military college close to Gotham City.
The Arrowverse version of Sophie Moore chose to lie about who she was to save her career. Instead of staying in the military, however, she was recruited into The Crows. She also got married to a man Tyler.
Some elements of Kate Kane's relationship with Rene Montoya in the comics seem to have been transferred to the Arrowverse version of Sophie Moore. Specifically, how Kate sees Sophie's refusal to stand by her as a betrayal and disapproves of her lying about their relationship in order to remain enrolled at the Academy, whereas Sophie admonishes Kate for not realizing that not everyone has a rich family to fall back on like she does. This is similar to the arguments Kate and Rene had about Rene remaining in the closet.
Luke Fox is the son of Lucius Fox - Bruce Wayne's long-time business manager and weapons' designer. In the comics, Luke took up a superheroic identity of his own, becoming Batwing.
The Arrowverse version of Luke is privy to Bruce Wayne's secret identity and is overseeing Wayne Enterprises' building in Bruce Wayne's absence.
In the comics, Kate and Beth were identical twins, whereas Kate and Beth are fraternal twins.
As in the original comics, Kate's mother died when she was a young girl and her sister Beth was presumed dead, though no body was ever recovered. However, the circumstances of that death are wildly different.
In the comics, Beth, Kate and their mother were taken hostage by terrorists on the twins' 12th birthday. Jacob Kane led the mission to save them, only manage to successfully rescue Kate. The terrorists executed Kate's mother and Beth was apparently killed in the crossfire between the terrorists and The Crows.
In the show, the Kane's car was forced off the road by a school bus stolen by The Joker. Batman stopped chasing the Joker long enough to try and rescue the Kanes, who were left teetering on a broken bridge. Unfortunately, only Kate was able to climb free of the car before it fell into the river below. Beth's body was never recovered.
It is revealed in the end of the episode that Alice is Beth Kane and that she had the garnet from the necklace matching Kate's transplanted into a knife, which she leaves as a calling card for Batwoman, having apparently figured out that Kate is Batwoman. Though Beth Kane in the comics did become a villain called Alice, the circumstances seem to have been changed from the comics.
In the comics, Alice was a member of the Religion of Crime - a cult that sought to sacrifice Kate Kane to fulfill a prophecy. Introduced in the Batwoman: Elegy storyline, Kate eventually discovered that the new Religion of Crime leader was her long-lost sister. It was never explained how Beth came to be indoctrinated into the cult, but she was eventually redeemed and became a DEO Agent known as Red Alice.
This is not Rachel Skarsten's first time on a superhero TV show. She also played Dinah Lance on The WB network's Birds of Prey series, though her version of Dinah Lance was a teenage telepath rather than a martial-artist with a sonic scream.
The gang that Alice leads seems to be based on The Wonderland Gang. Created by writer Paul Dini and artist Dustin Nguyen and first appearing in Detective Comics #841, the Wonderland Gang were a group of costumed robbers who all dressed as Lewis Craroll characters. Apparently led by The Mad Hatter, it was later revealed that he had fallen prey to his own mind-control technology and that the gang was truly being run by Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
In the comics, Alice never had any connection to The Wonderland Gang or any of the other villains in Gotham City with Lewis Carroll-themed names or gimmicks.
The Wonderland Gang was also the name of a real-world gang of cocaine dealers that was based in Los Angeles in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The Crow who betrays the team to Alice is named Chuck Dodgson. Lewis Carroll was the pen-name of Charles Dodgson.
As the episode opens, we are told that Batman hasn't been seen in Gotham City in three years. Coincidentally, Kate became Batwoman in the comics during a time in which Batman seemingly abandoned Gotham City for one year, during the events of the mini-series 52.
The "Welcome To Gotham" sign in the opening has been defaced to say "Hellcomes To Gotham." This may be a nod to Batman Returns, which Selina Kyle damaged a neon sign that said "Hello There," making it read "Hell Here."
Two different newspapers are seen in the episode: the Gotham Gazette and the Gotham Inquisitor. The Gotham Gazette is commonly seen in the comics, but their rival paper is usually The Gotham Globe. This may, however, be a nod to the series Smallville, where the rival paper of The Daily Planet was The Metropolis Inquisitor.
Kate is a vegan and has acquired a neck tattoo since the last time she saw her father.
According to Kate, Bruce Wayne doesn't have a legal middle name. While this has been largely true for many years, Bruce's full name was given as Bruce Thomas Wayne in Batman #20 of the Rebirth era series.
In the Arrowverse, Kate is significantly younger than Bruce, who was running Wayne Enterprises while she was still a tween. In the comics, they are closer in age and were both children when they lost their parents within a few years of each other.
Kate also identifies Bruce Wayne's birthday as February 19th. This is Bruce's official birthday according to the DC Super Calendar from 1976. Astrologically, this makes Bruce a Pisces and one astrology site claims that people born on February 19th tend to be romantic, selfless and intuitive and will sacrifice anything to save their loved one, but they often take on too much and sometimes have trouble accepting reality. (Sounds accurate to us!)
The password to the computers in Wayne Enterprises is Alfred. This is a nod to Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne's loyal butler.
Kate figures out that the Wonderland Gang is hiding out in the old Burnside Orphanage building. Burnside is one of the boroughs of Gotham City, comparable to Brooklyn in New York City, and was the territory protected by Batgirl for many years in her solo comic.
In the reality of the Arrowverse, Bruce Wayne has a Bat-Cave hidden under Wayne Enterprises, which is accessed by a secret elevator, revealed by a switch hidden under the case containing the restored pearls his mother wore on the night of her death. It is unclear if this is the main Bat-Cave or an auxiliary one in addition to the one under Wayne Manor. In the comics, Bruce Wayne did have several smaller caves set up around Gotham City.
The movie being screened at the Movie In The Park event is the 1920 silent film version of The Mark of Zorro. In most versions of Batman's origin story since The Dark Knight Returns, this is the movie that Bruce Wayne's parents took him to see on the night of their murder.
A child dressed as Zorro can be seen running through the crowd at the movie screening, along with a boy dressed as Robin.
Radio Hostess Vesper Fairchild is heard near the end of the episode. Vesper was first mentioned in A709 as a gossip monger who knows everyone in Gotham. She apparently had a one-night stand with Oliver Queen at one point before he became Green Arrow.
In the original Batman comics, Vesper Fairchild was a radio show host who was briefly linked to Bruce Wayne romantically. She first appeared in Batman #540 in March 1997. She was later killed by the assassin David Cain as part of a plot to frame Bruce Wayne for her murder. This kicked off the Bruce Wayne: Murderer? and Bruce Wayne: Fugitive storylines that ran through the Batman comics in 2002.
Vesper Fairchild is voiced by MSNBC pundit and former talk radio host Rachel Maddow.
Batman's grappling hooks are capable of holding one ton.
Kate: (into phone) Hello?
Mary: Kate, it's Mary. Your stepsister.
Kate: Mary, our parents have been married for over a decade. I know who you are.
(Kate has her hands cuffed behind her back.)
Kate: Bruce gave me a great piece of advice once. Grow into the person you needed as a kid.
Luke: That's great. Police are on their way.
Kate: Oh. It it turns out that the person that I needed as a kid can do this.
(Kate reveals that she slipped out of her cuffs and grabs Luke, forcing one cuff on to his wrist before chaining him to the wall with the other.)
Kate: You signed it.
Sophie: I told them what they wanted to hear.
Kate: You lied.
Sophie: I need this school, okay? I want to be here.
Kate: But they don't want you.
Sophie: Unfortunately, I don't have the luxury of being offended by that.
Kate: How do you know me?
Alice: Better now.
Kate: (in her journal to Bruce) I spent 15 years searching for a place I fit, and I think I've finally found it. Some see fear, others hope. I see the freedom to be myself, to play by own rules.
As the episode opens, it has been three years since Batman has been seen in Gotham. Bruce Wayne also disappeared shortly thereafter.
Kate says that Bruce is the only member of her family who didn't abandon her after he mother died, with Jacob Kane becoming more obsessed with his work.
Kate and Beth had matching garnet necklaces. Kate figures out that Alice is Beth after she realizes the same garnet is in Alice's throwing knife.
As the episode opens, Kate is in some arctic environment, training how to survive swimming in freezing waters.
The Bottom Line
A solid set-up for the series that sets up all the major players with grace and style.