In Brief: This is the tale of how Kate and Safiyah got together.
Summary (spoilers ahead): We are taken back to the time when Kate got washed onto the shores of Coryana. The issue opens with a conversation between Safiyah and Tahani where Kate gets called a siren. The title sticks with her until the end of the issue.
Tahani warns Safiyah to be careful around Kate, an advice she dismisses. This is the first time Kate meets Safiyah, “The Lady of the Island”. They have a conversation on Kate’s self-destructive tendencies, which ends with Kate asking whether she is a prisoner or not. In retort, she is asked if she wants to be a prisoner, a question that gets no answer.
Time passes, and Kate starts to adapt to everyday life on the island. She starts to slowly heal, mentally and physically. Safiyah gets warned about the outsider nature of Kate more than once, a warning that continues to fall on deaf ears.
Tahani tries to make Kate return to her drinking habits and Safiyah banishes her for it. Later, a heist is arranged by the warlords and Kate joins them. A storm hits, the boat they are on is compromised and Kate is attacked by an enraged Tahani. A giant wave engulfs them both, but Safiyah saves Kate from drowning. The issue ends with Safiyah inviting Kate to stay with her on the island.
In Depth: This issue is a love story through and through. It starts with the two characters dancing around each other, evolves into Safiyah falling for Kate because of small, everyday details such as the cups of tea Kate leaves for her, develops into a will-they-won’t-they situation and ends with them getting together. What makes this issue stand out is how greatly told this love story was.
First off, the pacing is perfect. The choice to have it narrated from Safiyah’s point of view crafted a way of moving quickly with the timeline without it being rushed. Not every day and not all situation is shown, but we get the idea that Safiyah’s affection for Kate is slowly growing. Tynion and Bennet open the issue with a longer, slower scene, then they fast forward, providing the reader with context, and slow down again with the party scene, ending the issue with the longer scene of the heist. The rhythm this variation creates makes this whole tale easy to follow and delicious to read.
The party scene is one that not only works amazingly on the plot but also made me pause to admire Stephanie Hans’ art. Her brush art is not exactly my all time favorite style, but she does it so perfectly that I cannot put myself in any other position than that of reverie. The party spread creates such tension between Kate and Safiyah that I found myself holding onto my chair. Her colors, together with the layout and camera, work to create this expectation more than words can describe.
A central row, colored in red. Kate approaches, she and Safiyah exchange a powerful look, they get closer and the camera is also closing in. We are now looking directly at Kate’s parted lips, her half lidded eyes. She closes her eyes. I could kiss reach out and kiss her myself right at this moment. We are seeing her as Safiyah is seeing her, despite the camera not being Safiyah’s eyes. The tension is broken as Safiyah draws away. The colors return to their cool shades, the camera returns to the party, and the whole scene is broken.
This issue also gives us a glimpse of what is to come, with a panel showing Kate wearing her Colony uniform while Safiyah revives her. The choice to make a reference to the future at this time probably means that what happened in Coryana will be connected to what is to come in Batwoman.
Overall: Aside from the sublime artwork on this issue, the tale also helps us understand where Kate, Safiyah and Tahani stand on each other.