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Exploring the enigmatic Alice, villain of the CW’s Batwoman

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Curiouser and curiouser

Alice, Batwoman’s nemesis, shoots one of her own followers in the head, in Detective Comics #855, DC Comics (2009). Greg Rucka, J.H. Williams III/DC Comics

The CW’s Batwoman series wastes no time in getting to all the trappings of her origin story, and that includes Alice, the heroine’s simply-named archvillain. But who is Alice, really? And what’s her fascination with Batwoman’s father, Jacob Kane?

Here’s what we know about the Lewis Carroll-quoting High Madame of Crime, from the comics.

[Ed. note: This article contains come comics information that could be considered spoilers for Batwoman on the CW.]

Alice, Batwoman’s nemesis, fires two pistols at the viewer, a wild, smiling expression on her face, in Detective Comics #855, DC Comics (2009). Greg Rucka, J.H. Williams III/DC Comics

Alice made her first appearance as the primary villain of Elegy, a 2009 story arc from Detective Comics, in an era when Kate Kane, as Batwoman, headlined the venerable series, and not Bruce Wayne. Alice was the ruthless leader of a worshipful criminal syndicate, and she seemed extremely unhinged; she spoke only in quotes from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

Alice and Batwoman clashed several times, until the hero finally prevailed and saved Gotham City from a chemical attack. But that victory led Kate to a shocking realization: Alice was her twin sister, Beth, who had died when they were 12 years old. Or so she thought.

Alice’s villain origin story

A core part of Kate Kane’s origin story is that when she was young, she, her mother, and her sister were kidnapped by terrorists, and only Kate survived. The experience solidified her drive to follow in her parents’ footsteps to join the armed forces and serve a greater good. At the end of Elegy, Kate discovered that her sister had secretly been taken in by the terrorist group, and her special forces-trained father had searched for his daughter for years without finding her.

But he also never told Kate that Beth was presumably still alive, nor that the foe she’d been fighting all that time was likely her sister. And that drove a pretty significant wedge between Kate and Jacob for a very long time. It’s Kate’s dearest desire to rescue her sister, get her the mental help she needs, and bring her back into the family.

What are Alice’s motivations?

So far, in the Batwoman show, Alice wants to take down her father’s private security business. In the comics, while Jacob Kane does have an extensive network of spec ops contacts, he is retired, and Alice’s motivations are pretty different. So different, in fact, I’d be surprised if they wound up in the show.

Alice is one of the leaders of the Religion of Crime

The Religion of Crime was introduced in the series 52, in which Batwoman debuted. It was essentially an international criminal cabal that was really, really serious about mysticism. Adherents followed the Crime Bible (yes), a religious text that espoused pillars of faith like deceit, lust, greed, and murder, as exemplified in the life of Cain, the first murderer. (It’s heavily implied that the Crime Bible is some sort of tool of agents of Darkseid, presumably created and disseminated to make humanity more susceptible to the forces of Apokolips.)

As a leader of Gotham’s Religion of Crime covens, Alice’s motivations are, well, to do a lot of crime, but she also took the reins on the organization in a time of turmoil. In 52, the Religion of Crime believed that the Crime Bible foretold their great victory over Batwoman, but after she survived a ritualized stabbing in the heart, many adherents in Gotham lost faith.

So Alice showed up in Elegy to do crime, of course, but also to battle Batwoman and restore the power of the Religion of Crime. How much of that winds up in Batwoman on the CW, only time will tell.