Batwoman is a relatively new character, only a few years old. This incarnation anyway, previously Batwoman was a 1950s character that was referenced over the years, but was mostly discarded and forgotten. She’s a popular new character though and so DC gave her her own series after the reboot. The interesting thing is, apparently all of her previous stories made it through the reboot intact.
There are a number of references to incidents that occurred just before the reboot and all of her backstory is referenced as well including her relationship with her dad and that she used to date Renee Montoya. Renee is now either dead or is still the new Question. Which is not made clear in this issue, but I’m sure we’ll find out soon.
A new addition is Flamebird, Bette Kane, apparently Kate Kane’s (Batwoman) cousin. This implies that Kathy Kane, the original Batwoman is the new Batwoman’s aunt. Or maybe mother? Most likely Kathy Kane was neither in this universe as it would have been too long ago for her to have been a superhero, but the connection is still amusing.
Batwoman has agreed to train Flamebird and take her on as a sort of Robin-esque sidekick, but she’s more harsh and military about it. She’s destroyed Flamebird’s old costume, given her a drab uniform and bandanna-mask and dubbed her the completely unimaginative “Plebe”. Flamebird might or might not continue this training, but if she didn’t it’d be a loss for the title. Batwoman needs a Robin-like foil to humanize her when she’s in hero mode. Without that, she’s a soldier-like, almost machine-like Batman. With Flamebird or “Plebe”, she has a foil, someone to explain things to, someone to reveal things to and someone that will hopefully help her becomes more than just a female Batman.
The one problem I have with the art in this book is that Kate and Batwoman are given the same ashen, almost deathly pallor. This should give away her secret identity immediately as soon as someone sees Batwoman. No-one else has this coloring. Why a beautiful socialite would have this pallor goes unremarked. Perhaps it will be explained later, but it is a very unusual complexion, and if unique would immediately identify her as Batwoman. I understand that it works very well with the red hair and black costume, but as Kate Kane it is just weird.
Finally, back to the link to Kathy Kate. This character’s backstory really brings home that there is no more Golden Age in the DC universe. No Jay Garrick, no Max Mercury, no Wildcat or Hourman. I’m hoping they’re all on Earth 2 somewhere and DC hasn’t completely abandoned their “52 universe” idea from a few short years ago. I have to think they’ll have occasional alternate universe stories with them at some point. DC has made it almost a compulsion to keep bringing back older and minor characters to keep them in copyright, it’d be strange indeed if they let them lapse now.