Filed under: Comic Reviews, DC Comics | Tags: Batman, Batwoman, DCNew52, JH Williams III, W. Haden Blackman
Batwoman #1 was such a long time coming we were all a bit worried it would disappoint. Luckily it did not. The real test, of course, comes as a series progresses and issue 2 is a great point to judge if you’ve got a stormer of a book on your hands, or the lame duck that you need to get off your pull list ASAP.
Although we are only into the #2’s of the DC Reboot we have already seen the first round of creative changes and plenty of rumours too. Batwoman was a series that had been in the works long before the Reboot and so got its management changes out the way long before the Reboot Rumour Mill could get into gear. if JH Williams III and W. Haden Blackman are able to maintain this level of quality DC should be begging them to continue on this title for as long as possible.
Issue 2 of Batwoman builds on a lot of aspects of its first issue whilst also taking us down some interesting side avenues. If #1 was an introduction then this is where Williams and Blackman start to put some meat on Batwoman’s bones. I’d imagine this comic turning out to be a rib eye – my favourite steak. Cooked rare. I like the blood to mix in with my potatoes. As well as the characters starting to develop and the story progressing every page of this book is a treat to look at. Exciting and novel techniques and used in abundance making Batwoman one of my top DCnew52 books for art.
Who ever said ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ was almost certainly referring to comic books. I much prefer covers when they are done with the titles regular artist as it affords them an opportunity to represent their characters in a way they are unlikely to be able to do, panel to panel. This is what I am begining to love about Batwoman’s covers. The artists are able to show off both Batwoman and the story, her strenghts, problems, relationships and even cases she’s working on, all on the cover. Don’t they do it brilliantly?
The ghostly damp essence of #1 has been carried over just as the case is ongoing. In contrast to last month’s cover Batwoman is struggling as the water laps around more and more of her face. Is she going under? She is down to her bare bones under the water. Will the strife of this case really reduce her to her bare elements? Does this mean we will get to see the ‘real Batwoman’? Of course, in true Bat-Book fashion we must read on to find out.
Earlier I said that every page in Batwoman is ‘visual treat’ . Well, I wasn’t lying. You’ll find this out for yourself once you start flicking through it. The initial 5 page fight sequence is a veritable four colour feast! Williams uses a similar tecnique to that of Captain Atom artist Freddie Williams II where contrasting inking and colouring styles are used to allow the reader to develop different feelings and emotions towards Batwoman, versus the villains whom she is so effortlessly kicking the shit out of.
As our eyes flit down from panel to panel we see Batwoman breaking bones and smashing skulls, excellently illustrated through the little x-ray inserts. The most striking aspect of this however, is as I mentioned above, the contrast between Kane and these villains. These guys look like they fell limp from the in between the pages of a second rate Charlton book from the 50s. Batwoman on the other hand has a modern and intimidating costume, and is literally jumping off the page thanks to her slick, Matrix like paint job. These cheap hoodlums in their dingy gambling den are no match for Batwoman, they are not even in the same league! So much so that Kane and her sidekick are convincingly able to continue a conversation throughout the entire fight. The writers also give us a bit of background on Kane, filling us in on what they see as her ‘key features’ – military background, homosexuality, fucked up family….
With an introduction like that, even a substandard story would allow this book to stand head and shoulders above most of the comics that DC publish each month. I’d argue that Williams and Blackman don’t nail the writing in the same exemplary fashion as they do the art but they are not for away. There are quite a few ‘similarish’ characters all interacting together and I’m not 100% sure who each of them are and what their relationships are to each other. It may be that I am just a bit dense but I have read both #1 and #2 quite a few times and can usually tell my own friends, family and colleagues apart.
After talking a good few puffs on my ‘Sherlock Holmes’ pipe I managed to deduce that Cameron Chase works for the DEO which is a shady governmental organisation. She is obsessed with finding out who is behind Batwoman’s mask and her boss is a scary skeleton man. The scary water woman who was behind the crime in #1 is back and carrying on like one of JK Rowling’s ‘Dementors’, only the Catholic, under-water version. Kate Kane and Det. Sawyer go on a date and Chase thinks Sawyer might be Batwoman. There is a big gang fight resulting in a lot of dead bodies, not all of them human and it might have something to do with a new religious gang. Or something.
Our pal Batman also makes an appearance and is looking well in a fashionably retro grey costume. It would appear that he is trying to get Kane to join Batman Inc. although I wonder where he’d put her, Africa is already taken after all. However, all if perhaps not as it seems in this comic book. Kane is going through files in Sawyers office, presumably without her permission when she is caught. The two struggle violently before Kane leaves in a most dramatic fashion. Sawyer then calls Chase to dish the dirt of Batwoman who was obviously a bit too rough for her own good.
Aside from some slightly confusing story elements Batwoman seems to be shaping into one of my favourite current comic books. Complex and interesting characters, intriguing crimes. This book really is a bit different. Williams and Blackman are working together to complex plot elements that I am hopeful will become clearer and easier to follow as the book develops. I also hope that the high standard of art, layout and design is maintained as this is one of the main draws of the book.
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