Hey, remember this story? DEO blackmailing Batwoman into exposing Batman's identity? Last we left off, Batman and Batwoman were busy punching each other, and that continues, until Bruce manages to separate himself and Kate away from Mr. Bones, who is cheering Batwoman on like it's a WWE match.
Elsewhere, Bette and the Murder of Crows are trying to extract Beth from the DEO themselves, but things go wrong as the DEO have some electromagnetic charge or something that disables their helicopter. Losing contact with his operatives, Jacob Kane decides to go into the field himself. Annnd, not to fee left out, over at the GCPD, Chase and the DEO arrest Maggie and Bullock after implementing martial law.
Back to the fight! Kate tries to emerge from the water both she and Bruce fell into, but she's not going anywhere if Bruce has anything to say from it, and the fight continues, while Bruce tries to reason with Kate into working together. Kate still isn't accepting Bruce's help, so she gets a cheap shot in on him with a 2x4 and "knocks him out."
Back at the GCPD, Bullock fakes a heart attack to cause a distraction, allowing him and Maggie to escape the cuffs they've been put in and... well, that's the last we see of them in this issue, so whatever?
Chase gets called into meet Bones, who got separated from the fight, as they meet Agent Asaf as well, who has orders from the President to figure out just what the fuck is happening with the DEO, and it becomes clear that Bones has become a bit unhinged, especially with the belief that Jacob Kane is his father.
Kate's got Batman "tied up" wondering what to do with him. Of course, Batman is awake and the two begin to talk, Bruce obviously trying to relay the fact that he understands what Kate's going through better than she might suspect. Once Kate finally agrees to accept Bruce's help in the matter, he gets up (like hell he was actually tied up) and gets to work, coming up with a plan shortly after Jacob enters the room.
So the plan is, give "Batman" to the DEO, in exchange for Alice, as well as Bette and the Murder of Crows bunch, and that's what Kate does... Only the Batman she gives bones is Jacob in the cowl, and the real Batman, accompanied by Batgirl and Nightwing come in to back up Kate. Fight breaks loose, gets to the point where Bones is about to kill both Bette and Beth, but Agent Asaf takes a shot at him, straight through the skull, citing his explicit orders, and ending the fight.
Later Agent Asaf gives testimony to the US government, wrapping up everything. Bones wasn't Jacob's son, his fragile mental state lead him to believe so after seeing Jacob's name amongst the men who served with his real father who had died. Chase has resigned from the DEO, and is now working as a PI, Jacob is treating his daughter Beth on an offshore facility, and Batwoman is still at large. Most likely Asaf will become the new head of the DEO.
After Kate says goodbye to her father, that night she meets up with Batman to actually thank him for the assist. Bruce doesn't make a big deal out of it, and says he's pleased with who Kate has become, figuring he'll allow her to continue operating in Gotham, and asks if she'd like to join him on patrol.
The big problem facing this issue was going to be the transition between writers. We all know the story with this arc and how it took this long to finish it, but that said, I got to say this issue felt good. There wasn't any glaring inconsistencies between what came before this annual and the actual issue itself, so overall, I was happy with the story. While the conclusion to the arc definitely wasn't what originally was going to happen, I'm not going to lie and tell you I didn't feel satisfied by it. Sure, I wonder what would have been different, but there's no point in crying of spilt milk.
Also, I'd like to make note of the art. It was nice to see Trevor McCarthy draw Batwoman one last time. He's certainly had a resurgence since that Nightwing fill-in issue way back, and I greatly enjoyed his art on the series. Moritat, formerly of All-Star Western pitched in, and while I'm not a fan of fill-in art, I do love Moritat's style, and instead of changing artists mid-scene (which I really can't stand), the split between him and McCarthy remains clean, never spilling over into the other's scenes. I'd love to see Moritat draw more stuff in Gotham, he's got a great style that while unique, fits Gotham very well, and he's really consistent, having drawn a good deal of All-Star Western issues in a row. Be in Batman Eternal or the Eternal status quo Catwoman (which I REALLY want to see), I don't care what, I just want to have Moritat draw some more Bat stuff.
I don't know... but it seems like it takes Kate a bit too long to figure "this situation is fucked, why am I not working with Batman, who clearly is on top of his game with this sort of stuff." Sure, she gets there eventually, but it just takes a while. Also, Maggie and Bullock's story just gets dropped out of no where. Not that they were integral to this story's conclusion, it was just weird to have them reintroduced into this annual, escape the DEO arrest and then just... nothing. If they weren't there to begin with, I wouldn't have even felt like anything was missing, honestly.
The Bottom Line:
Sure, circumstances surrounding this story weren't ideal, but at the end of the day, as a reader, I don't think I should allow myself to get wrapped up into whatever internal DC politics went on to create the situation that lead to this specific issue. What's important is what's on the page, and as far as I'm concerned, I enjoyed the story that Marc Andreyko provided, and felt it was beautifully illustrated by both Trevor McCarthy and Moritat. While this may have not bee the originally intended conclusion to the arc, I still felt that it was a fitting, enjoyable conclusion.