Thus, we are treated to a second flash forward issue in a row, only this time we are flashing towards a skirmish around a sattelite. Kate and her friends, which the book still has to introduce in a proper way, battle Morgane Le Fay and her inhuman hordes over a mystical McGuffin.
Seeing Kate and her sister in space suits is an image that intentionally breaks from the more grounded tone. Yet, despite the raised stakes, the reader accepts that contrary to the "Future’s End" Special bloodletting, all this could actually happen at some point.
It’s another thing entirely to consider if this sort of action should be happening in the Batwoman title. On the face of it, it reads almost like a team book, with Kate being a clear lead, but there is certainly not enough context to go on past the intentional controversy.
More importantly, Alice is also being slowly reintroduced to the title, with a more measured approach than before. Starting out as a Joker to Kate Kane’s Bat(wo)man, the character’s return has been carefully seeded since the introduction of the idea that the two characters are twin sisters.
This time around, Kate is portrayed as the bloodthirsty sister, with flashes of the vampiric bloodlust taking over her while in the Batwoman guise. For once these don’t read like dream sequences and actually feel directly relevant to the plot at hand.
As for the broader story, it ties to Morgan Le Fay’s return and the cult involved with resurrecting her by using the philosopher’s stone.
There are actually some interesting bits to her return, but this is still largely a character building story. Morgan’s irredeemably evil so the writer doesn’t really deal with her motivations beyond the stereotypical supervillain megalomania. She is there to draw all of these disperate characters together, and she has enough presence to fulfill that role.
Juan Jose Ryp fills in for Jeanty in the issue featuring Morgan's return, and his highly detailed work calls attention to itself. Georges Jeanty has depicted these characters a bit looser and less imposing, which fit the book’s tone, but at this point the reader should be used to the fill ins.
With the sales being what they were, it’s probable that editorial was already considering ending the run, so the artistic shifts are to be expected.
The Nocturna subplot had a mild outcry with some of the fans considering the villain’s actions as veering towards rape. And while the implication is certainly there, it’s a shame that this is why this run ended up being an object of discussion. As the character based subplots draw to a close, Andreyko saves the explosive finale for an oversize Annual.
The weird symmetry of his run, which begins and ends with Annuals cannot be overstated. To make matters more complicated, once again, the action picks up not from where the series' last issue ended, but from #35, the flash forward issue which introduced the readers to Kate's battle in space.
Taking all this into consideration, what to make of the Annual itself? It features Jeanty working in concert with fill-in artists, but thankfully the result isn't jarring. On the other hand, a weird story with reality reshaped to have Gotham appear as a medieval hamlet lorded over by Morgana Le Fey certainly won't be to everyone's taste.
It does at least put all of this to rest and ends with Kate reconnecting with Maggie. The smoothening out of the sore point of Kate Kane and Maggie Sawyer's relationship at this late date has more or less fell on deaf ears of the reading public.
Thus, in a way Andreyko has completed the circle by having to wrap up his own plots in an Annual. The entirety of this run, especially in such close proximity to the work of J. H. Williams III before it, certainly makes a case that the follow-up creative teams would benefit from a proper relaunch, with some distance in between.
Being in the position to directly continue the acclaimed work seemed to have forced the new creatives to scramble and try to make deadlines and enforce editorial edicts without being given enough time to truly consider the task at hand and really leave their mark with the character.
DC would return to Kate again a year later in the Detective comics team-up title, which ultimately spun-off a new Batwoman series. The work of Andreyko, Haun and Jeanty and the others continues to live on in collected form, tracking the development of a superhero character that was eventually given her own TV series.
It is only when looking back at these issues that the reader will be able to appreciate how truly weird they were and the lengths these publishers go through to keep their characters in circulation and development.