Trapped at a crossroads, what does the future hold for the most controversial Superhero today? If one thing is for certain, that future will be damn interesting!
For her short lifetime, Kate Kane has accomplished something that most characters take decades to do, and that’s having the ability to get people to talk about her whenever she is mentioned. In an industry that can sometimes be far too Oligopolistic for its own good, coupled by a dwindling fan base that is more closed minded to new things than it has ever been, new characters (and even different takes on older ones) sometimes have an impossible mountain to climb in even gaining acceptance. The outlook becomes even bleaker when one takes a look at recent sales charts and reads forums to gain a pulse about the thoughts and buying trends of the current fan base. When you take all of that into account, the current Batwoman has done something pretty cool by transcending the odds and actually not just gaining a decent following, but enough social penetration to have people talk about her whenever she’s bought up in discussion. However, if there was ever a character who ever fell into the saying “Talk to a thousand people, and you will get a thousand different opinions”, it would be Kate Kane for a number of reasons, especially if you talk about her Sexuality.
With Infinite Crisis coming to an end, and 52 about to begin, one of the major news stories in 2006 was the introduction of a new Batwoman after the last one died in 1979. The fact that this character was going to be the new Batwoman was news enough in and of itself, but the big reason why this became a major news story was the announcement that this character was going to be a Lesbian, which wouldn’t had made her the first one ever in Comic Books, but definitely the most high profile, due to the franchise she was a part of. In fact, she was so high profile that the general media outlets considered her a news story before the first Comic she was to be a part of was released, with one article called her a “Buxom, Lipstick, Lesbian”, the kind of thing DC was trying to avoid. After that article, it seemed like the plans to integrate her at a slower pace, became a crawl, as plans for her to get own Series fizzled out. In 2009, however she would get the opportunity to headline DC’s longest running book in Detective Comics. A run that was so successful, that her run in that book was shortened, so she can get her own title. Something that seemed in danger for a couple of weeks after Greg Rucka left DC. Then it was announced that a team consisting of J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman and Amy Reeder would be the main creative force for the new book. While most people were relieved that Kate was still getting her share of the spotlight, there were still the question of how Rucka’s albescence would affect things from here on out. On the heels of that question comes Batwoman #0. How does this preview stand up in the midst of amazing hype? Let’s go into the details.
When the Elegy Storyline was being published, the overwhelming concensious was that the book was carried by the amazing art of J.H. Williams III, with not too many people paying attention to the writing that the book sported, with some people calling it just a hair above average. However, this reviewer always though that while it took the writing a bit of time to match the quality of the art, it was definitely no slouch from the first page on (especially once you take in the fact, that Rucka helped to layout the scenes from his writing), especially by the end of the arc where the writing had equaled, or even exceeded the quality of the art at some points. Sadly, it took his departure for some people to realize how much Greg contributed to the package. Even with his full support, there was some doubt that the new team would be able to match the quality he gave his work. I am happy to say that was a fear that might not have been warranted. J.H. Williams, along with Haden Blackman show us immediately that they have a pulse for not only writing Kate Kane, but for handling a multi-faceted storyline. For those of you who have read Elegy, Kate’s father served as her rock to keep her grounded in a world you can easily get consumed by your endless need for justice. However, a revelation at the end of the storyline broke their alliance apart, not only severing a solid relationship, but pushing her in a position where she can be even more influenced by what used to make Bruce the Island amongst himself. I would not be surprised if both philosophies are constantly battling each other during the series, itself.
When it comes to the art, J.H. Williams III has had people much more eloquent than myself, who have given him praise that would exceed my own. So I will not waste too much time singing his deserved praises for the 1.6 millionth time. However, I want to focus in on the newest members of the team (seemingly) in Amy Reeder and Richard Friend. Amy Reeder made herself a name on the Madame Xanadu series (RIP), and Dan Didio in one of his few smart moves (in my eyes, anyway), has given her an exclusive contract and Co-Art Duties on this upcoming series, and once you see the Kate Sequence in this book, you’ll see the reason why. Ms. Reeder doesn’t waste any time in not just continuing to establish the style that J.H. Williams established in Elegy, but to even add her own spin, as its business as usual with her high quality and detail drawings. What impresses me the most about this is that she shows her diversity, as this art is Worlds Apart from her Madame Xanadu take, which is the true sign of a great artist. With that said, however, part of her success definitely has to be contributed to her Inker in Richard Friend, who is simply a master at what he does, as his perfect use of said Ink helps to define Kate and the World around her. Finally, props need to be given to Dave Stewart who provides the final piece to make this art the masterpiece that it is, and that’s the color itself, continuing his amazing work from Elegy. Even if some might say that the art falls behind a step (something I have to agree with), it’s still so damn good that the team deserves its’ props.
Despite the very solid positives, this book does possess some negatives that sadly cannot be ignored when analyzing this book from an unbiased perspective. The first of these drawbacks, and the one that sticks out the most has to be the length of the book, or the shorten length, thereof. Batwoman #0 only clocks in at 16 Pages of story with a 4 Page Preview for Batwoman #1, equaling the 20 Pages that all DC books will end up being come January 2011. This issue also hits home, due to the fact that this book was Solicited for $3.99 until the week it was supposed to come out. Had it been released for that price, my view of this would’ve been much harsher. As it stands, the biggest negative within that was I felt that the story ended too soon. As for the story itself, not much happened due to Batwoman #0 being a primer for the curious. To its credit, it serves that master well, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable for those who bought her 9-Issue Detective Run to feel a little bit underwhelmed due to the exposition that this story was based upon. Still, even with those 2 missteps, you’re still getting a book that’s crafted extremely well, with very good writing and amazing art. Something that gives this reviewer high hopes for the future to come.
Story - 7.75 (Due to the Length and the understandable non-progression of the story.)
Art - 9.75 (I can’t wait to see what this team does with a full length book.)
Accessibility - 8.5 (Serves as a great primer, but can leave established fans feeling kind of flat.)
Final Judgment: 8.25