Written by JH Williams III & W. Hayden Blackman
Illustrated by JH Williams III
Horror! Batwoman faces the terrifying villain stalking Gotham City’s children. Can she defeat the gruesome monster in time to save the city’s most innocent victims? Intrigue! Kate Kane unearths a ghost she has tried hard to bury, even as the D.E.O. closes in on Batwoman. Can Kate outrun her past and Cameron Chase? Romance! Kate’s relationship with Detective Maggie Sawyer continues to evolve. But will Kate’s nocturnal activities cause a rift between the two?
While at the time I’m sure many people were frustrated with the constant pre-release delays this book underwent, some of which we now know were the fault of DC wanting it roped in with the primary New 52 relaunch. Let’s hope that extra time in the oven means a long and prosperous run of on-time shipping since a more more engaging and beautiful comic has not been seen in the super hero world in quite some time.
Click past the cut for some universal positivity.
To say that this comic plays around with comic book convention would be the biggest understatement I will ever put to the page. Rather, it blows comic book convention’s house up, eats its children, pukes them out and then rebuilds both its own way and the results are nothing short of spectacular.
It’s not often that a comic’s art is so breathtaking that I stop reading in my tracks just to take in exactly what it is I am seeing. Sure, comics include art to convey its story and some of the time its actually good art instead of conventional characters on the page, but what JH Williams III puts down is ART. Capital A. Capital R. Capital T. Honestly, I have (frequently) seen stuff in museums that is less composed, less detailed, laid out worse and FAR less emotive that what this comic book delivers. It exists, quite simply, on another level entirely. A level I am struggling to find words to describe without making myself sound like (more of) a blubbering idiot. In all honestly, if you can’t look at that cover and understand my dumbfoundedness then you need to get your eyes checked twice.
And its not just the art itself that redefines the term “comic book art”, but the way it is placed on the page and flows fluidly from one panel to the next is legitimately unlike any comic I have ever read (and you best believe I’ve read a LOT). It is sometimes hard to turn the page and see multiple panels rather than one sprawling scene driven forward (or, realistically, around the double page set-up) by the dialogue. If more artists took the initiative to push the boundaries of the medium like this then (big C) Comics would be a very different beast indeed.
However, all of this praise for the visuals should not imply that the story itself is any less impressive. While definitely distinct, thematically, from Williams III’s run on the character with Greg Rucka, it is clear that BOTH of them developed a keen sense of how a Kate Kane solo adventure needed to function. However, on top of the rock solid characterization and distinctly “Infernal Affairs-ish” plot, I think the greatest strength this book has to offer is that it manages to defy any genre-based expectation that can be thrust upon it simply by juggling its disparate influences so very well. Just when you begin to get comfortable with the book as a high stakes horror mystery, it morphs into a super hero battle and just when that gets comfortable it becomes a deeply stoic piece centering on interpersonal relationships. This fluid identity manages to not only keep the story feeling fresh and unique, but adds a layer of unpredictability to the proceedings that make every page turn an exciting one.
Batwoman stands out amongst the rest of DC’s New 52 from not only a quality perspective, but from the way in which it establishes its sense of self. While some (not all, but some…most even) of DC’s new series are completely engrossed in being part of a widespread relaunch, this book exudes an almost reckless sense of pride in establishing itself as it’s own story with it’s own intention and motivation that exists fully outside the realm of the DC marketing machine. I’d imagine a lot of this comes from the fact that the book was formally begun before even Rich Johnston was aware there was going to be a relaunch, but the extent to which the creative team has this book and the characters within it as strong and compelling as they are is more than enough reason to continue reading.Continued below
Final Verdict: 9.5 – Have You Bought It Yet?