Alice's 'Batwoman' Comics Backstory Explains So Much About Her Character
Fans of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland may recognize a familiar face while watching the CW's Batwoman: Alice, played by Rachel Skarsten, looks (and acts) a lot like the titular young girl who fell down the rabbit hole. Infusing Carroll's work into the world of Gotham may feel strange, but Alice's journey actually fits comfortably into Batman's overall lore. Carroll's words of "We're all mad here" is the perfect catchphrase for a place like Gotham, where many of the antagonists are straight out of Arkham Asylum. The author specialized in surreal and unusual storytelling, and many of the villains Batman and Batwoman face feel straight of his unsettling, upside-down Wonderland. That's especially true for Alice.
In the comics, Alice first appeared in Detective Comics #854 as the coven leader of a cult called the Religion of Crime. When Kate Kane's Batwoman arrives to confront the cryptically speaking Alice, who wears a Victorian-era white gown and white face paint, she nonsensically explains, "I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, because I'm not myself, you see." A frustrated Batwoman tries to tell Alice she's not Alice Pleasance Liddell, the real woman who inspired Carrolls novels. But the two end up fighting, and Alice is so unpredictable that Batwoman is forced to retreat.
Later, Alice tries to kidnap Batwoman's father on a plane, but Batwoman catches up to them. The two scuffle atop the plane as it takes off, and Alice loses her grip. As Alice falls to her death in the ocean, she tells Batwoman, "You have our father's eyes." It's then that Batwoman realizes Alice was actually Beth Kane, her twin sister who she believed died in a terrorist kidnapping in Belgium when they were 12. Worse, Kate later learns that her dad always knew Beth was alive, but he never told her about it because he never succeeded in rescuing Beth.
Alice's body is never found, and she later reappears, resurrected. Soon, she seeks out her sister Kate, and as a result, Batwoman's stories often revolve around fighting and/or protecting Alice or vice versa. Alice, for her part, becomes aware that she suffers from mental illness, and takes steps towards receiving psychiatric help and separating herself from her Alice persona. While Beth sometimes backslides into her alter ego, there are other times that she is able to manage it and fight alongside Batwoman.
It's never fully explained why Beth sees herself as Alice, but it's hinted that after Beth is kidnapped and forced to join the Religion of Crime, she's so traumatized that she takes on the personality of a favorite fictional character to cope. It's shown that Kate was the much tougher one of the two twins, so perhaps Beth saw Alice falling down the rabbit hole as the perfect analogy for her being ripped away from her comfortable old life.
It's obvious that the fractured relationship between Beth, Kate, and their father will form the backbone of The CW's Batwoman. It's sure to be an emotional ride, but with so many other inevitable villains, here's hoping Batwoman can eventually count on Alice to be by her side.