Comic book deaths are always a tricky thing. A character's death can be a double-edged sword for readers. When they happen, fans of the character can easily get upset. If the death is short and they simply return, the readers will get annoyed as the death becomes pointless or just a stunt. It's important for the threat of death to be real for characters to understand and appreciate the dangers of being a hero. Sometimes we crave the return of characters that are just too fascinating to allow them to remain in comic book limbo.
In the pages of BATMAN INCORPORATED, while we recently saw the tragic death of someone extremely close to Batman, it appears that we may be seeing the return of another character that suffered a tragic death many years ago. This isn't really too much of a spoiler because there's been clues since 2011, but it appears Kathy Kane may be getting a chance to return to Batman's life.
Kathy Kane first appeared in 1956's DETECTIVE COMICS #233. Her origin and career was retold in BATMAN INCORPORATED, Vol 1 #4. Kathy Kane was an heiress as well as a daredevil performer in a circus. The circus was given to her by Nathan Kane. Originally Kathy had inherited the money from her Uncle. This appears to have been changed to Kathy becoming Nathan's widow.
Upon his death, she didn't think she would fall in love again...until she saw footage of Batman in action. Using her inheritance, Kathy underwent training and created the costumed identity of Batwoman.
Despite Kathy's success as Batwoman, Batman repeatedly tried to persuade her to retire due to the fact he so easily deduced her identity. He feared others could easily discover her secret which would jeopardize her life. Eventually, after several adventures and a brief romance, Batwoman did retire.
It was years later in 1979's DETECTIVE COMICS #485 we would see the last of Kathy Kane. Kane had returned to her circus. Batman had received a message that the League of Assassins had the circus and Kane in their sights. After the two fought off several assassins, it was the arrival of Bronze Tiger that proved to be too much for Batman. Catching him off guard with a sudden kick, Batman lost consciousness. When he awoke minutes later, he followed a trail and found Kathy's body, clutching her old costume.
Batman then discovered Ra's al Ghul there. He claimed he was the one that sent a note to Batman, warning him Kane was in danger. He said it was Sensei, the leader of the League of Assassins (and Ra's' father), that ordered her murder. Batman knew she wasn't an enemy of Sensei and suggested it was Ra's that lied to Sensei that she was a threat. This could have been in order to persuade Batman to have a reason to take down Sensei.
With Talia al Ghul's plans to take down Batman and Gotham City, it's the perfect time for the return of Kathy Kane. There was obviously more to Kathy's life than Batman realized. It appeared that she broke off their relationship because she didn't want to continue the life of a crimefighter and knew Batman couldn't give it up.
In BATMAN INCORPORATED, we were lead to believe there was more to it than that.
Of course we already have a ton of Bat-characters running around. Kate Kane is kicking all sorts of butt as the current Batwoman. That doesn't mean there isn't room for Kathy Kane's return. Because of her complex past and the seeds Grant Morrison has been planting, she makes for an intriguing character to have a presence in Batman's life. She was the one that broke his heart.
There's also the question of what she's been up to since her apparent death. If we are to believe she is currently appearing in BATMAN INCORPORATED, why is she associated with St. Hadrian's Finishing School for Girls? It appeared the school was taken down but the woman Batman thought was in control stated that he still didn't have the "Headmistress." The girls at the school are trained assassins and wear the yellow costumes with skull masks. These are the same costumes worn by those with the mysterious woman seen in BATMAN INCORPORATED.
If Kathy does return and is connected to St. Hadrian's or is still connected to Spyral, it's going to make an awkward reunion for Kane and Batman. That's just the sort of thing to spice up the story. With Talia's connection to Leviathan and the fact that Kathy was set up to be killed by Ra's, Kathy will have more than enough reason to come out of retirement. She obviously wouldn't need to try to reclaim her Batwoman identity. She could add an interesting twist to the Bat-titles and become a serious complication that could keep Batman on his toes.