Friday, September 23, 2011

Review: Batwoman #1

F***k yeah, Batwoman!  It’s about goddamn time!  For background on Batwoman check out my review of Batwoman #0 from last year.  Now if you haven’t noticed by now I’m a huge Kate Kane fan and have been eagerly anticipating this new series for damn near a year now.  Now considering that Batwoman #0 came out last fall I’m sure you’re wondering what the hell took so long for her to get to Batwoman #1

When Batwoman debuted in 52 back in 2006 it was to a large amount of fanfare about diversity and progression (Some of it a little dumb).  They said the ultimate plan was to get her in her own title but then a long while passes and nothing happens.  Finally in 2009 DC announced that Batwoman would take over the lead character status of Detective Comics, as seen in Batwoman: Elegy.  That book was awesome and was supposed to spin-out into its own title but that never happened.  Eventually Greg Rucka, one of Kate’s creators and primary writer during her Detective run, left DC for independent work (And later Marvel Comics) leaving the would-be soldier’s fate up in the air.  Thankfully J.H. Williams III, the artist for that run of Detective, stepped up to take the reins of Batwoman.  DC finally announced an ongoing Batwoman series in 2010 written by Williams and co-written with W. Haden Blackman and co-drawn by Amy Reeder (Meaning Reeder will take on art duties later).  The problem was that DC had dated the comic earlier than Williams was prepared for and ultimately the book was pushed back to February of 2011.  As a compromise Batwoman #0 was created and released in November of ’10, which if you recall I really loved it.  Unfortunately by the time winter came around Batwoman was pushed back again to April, apparently due to problems with the art (I think that’s right; I might be remembering it wrong).  But by the time April finally came around DC canceled the book!  At the time no reason was given, though most people assumed that it was just going to be pushed back to sometime in the fall…or go the way of Vixen’s book during the DC Implosion.   In the wake of the announcement of the DCnU things became clear: DC had decided to delay the book until the fall to coincide with the reboot of the continuity; what’s the point of starting a new series in April when it was going to be canceled due to companywide mandate in August anyway.  

So finally here in September I have a copy of Batwoman #1 in my hands.  Sadly all the press, all the build-up and all the publicity Kate had when she was first created is all gone by now as DC failed to strike while the iron was hot.  Hell, and potential readers DC got form BW #0 is likely mostly gone as it’s taken so long for the follow-up to come out.  This issue is titled “Hydrology Part 1: Leaching” and it seems that while Reeder (Shockingly only one of two women currently working for DC as creators) is on the creative team on this particular issue she’s not involved as Williams does all the art.  So we’re ten months passed from Batwoman #0 and two years passed from Batwoman: Elegy.  Was it worth the wait?  And can Kate survive without Greg Rucka?

Find out this and more after the jump!

Dude.  Batman does not have to deal with crap like this.
Several weeks following her battle with the crazed Alice high above Gotham City Batwoman has taken on a new case; she’s investigating the kidnapping, and murder, of several children.  The culprit is referred to as La Llorona, or the “Weeping Woman”.   On top of this Kate tries to balance out her personal life and training her cousin Bette Kane to be her partner. Unbeknownst to her there are people interested in learning who she is. Plus Batman finally decides to make his presence known…

So, as far as I understand, the only change from the old continuity is Jim Gordon’s hair (White to red) meaning that this is one of the few titles that was largely affected by the events of Flashpoint (So far).  This issue mostly picks up where we left off, which is good for me and other fans of Batwoman but bad for the so-called “new readers” DC was hoping to pick up in this whole Reboot ploy.  If you’ve never heard of Batwoman this comic is not a good place to start reading.   Most of the comics I’ve reviewed so far are structured as first issues for people who may not know who the character they’re reading might be.  Batwoman #1, however, feels like the next part of a story that’s already written, probably because that’s exactly what it is.  This assumes you’ve read Batwoman: Elegy, and maybe also BW #0, which under normal circumstances is fine but seeing how DC has structured all their other new titles I’m a bit worried that it may turn off a lot of people who would otherwise like the book.

But again I liked that it picks up where the other story left off because I actually read BW:E.  I really didn’t want to retread all of Kate’s origin or reaffirm the status quo of all that has been established (Blue Beetle has the opposite thing going on, as we’ll see next week).  We start right into the next plot and it ends being both exciting and mysterious.  I loved it.  While this may not be the best first issue for new readers but it has been my favorite story so far in this reboot.

El Angel Rojo Oscuro d la Muerte
The art is trippy and surreal and unique, as is the style of Williams when drawing Batwoman.  It works and really makes this title stand out in a crowd. This is the best art I’ve seen so far in the DCnU. 

I loved the way the plot moved and it feels like a lot was done in the twenty-two pages offered but I never once felt like it was rushed.  It looks like the Weeping Woman is going to be a really cool villain.  Seeing how awesome a villain Alice was in BW:E it looks like the creative team is intent on trying to give Kate one of the best rogue galleries in comics.  We’ll see if they succeed.  Also I really like the subtle characterization present for Kate.  For example her military training was never really outright mentioned but she specifically states that she wears a uniform rather than a costume: that there tells you every damn thing you need to know about the Batwoman’s mindset when it comes to super heroics. KATHERINE KANE IS A BADASS!!!

I wanted to give this comic 4 out of 5 Pandas since I don’t really like the idea of awarding an incomplete story a perfect score, but after re-reading the book for the actual review I realized that this title a HAS NO FLAWS.  Everything abut this book is awesome; the artwork, the dialogue, the characterization, the villain’s introduction, and best of all it leaves me desperately wanting to see the next issue!  The only problem that exists is that it is only awesome for those of us who actually read Batwoman: Elegy and liked the character there as well.  But that is easily solved if you go out and buy the trade paperback, which you really should do regardless because that book is really good as well!  So I highly, highly recommend this title but only after you read the also highly recommend BW:E (Review forthcoming).

A beautiful variant cover by Amy Reeder that likely won't be used
Thus making us all the true victims of the DCnU
 I give Batwoman #1 5 out of 5 Adorable Pandas because I can’t find fault with it.


Pros

-Strong female lead (And how!)

-Cool set up

-Cool villain is introduced

-Great artwork

Cons

-You may need to read another comic to get full enjoyment out of this book

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