It's the beginning of a new era of the Review Group. Fourthman had the pick for the week and opened it to the masses with a poll. After much jockeying and campaigning, the Outhouse chose Batwoman #0 as the pick of the week.
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The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse's News Stand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate.
This week was the first in a brand new era of the Review Group. To celebrate, fourthman allowed the masses to pick the book of the week. After several days of wheeling and dealing, Batwoman #0 emerged victorious. Without further ado, here are the Reviews.
Review by God-Man
This was a pretty good read. It mostly acted as a reintroduction to the world of Batwoman, but there's a couple of threads that will probably be picked up in the series (what was in that sarcophagus?) The art was awesome, smartly divided between Williams' Batwoman scenes and Reeder's Kate Kane scenes. I can't wait to see the confrontation between Bruce and Kate.
Review by John Snow
I re-read Elegy last night in anticipation of this issue. Of the superhero stories I've read this year it's at or near the top of my list of favorites. Great character development by Greg Rucka that set up Kate Kane as I character I want to continue reading for a long time which is something I wasn't expecting. Honestly, I bought the book for the art. In Elegy JH Williams III displays more skill and diversity in 6 issues than most artists exhibit in a lifetime. Obviously I love Elegy, this isn't Elegy though, this is blend of a continuation and a new beginning.
Can Kate Kane still be Kate Kane without Greg Rucka? From reading this, it's kind of hard to say. The issue is told completely through the perspective of Bruce Wayne, in a mix of captions and excerpts of his research notes, as he investigates Batwoman to determine not only her true identity, but also her worthiness of the mantle she has taken upon herself. As an introduction to the character, Batwoman #0 succeeds even if Kate does always feel at arms length. For existing readers it not only gives you a picture of what Kate has been doing since we last saw her, but presumably also lays hints for the stories ahead.
While any comic with JH Williams III art is bound to be a treat, this issue had the added intrigue of seeing how the art of Amy Reeder (looks like she dropped the Hadley) would be integrated into it. As it turned out, Williams handled the art for the Batwoman sections and Reeder took the Kate Kane portions with the art from each being split on the page starting with Williams on top and gradually transitioning to Reeder being on top in the second half of the issue. It's something of an impossible task to put someone in a position where their art will be compared to that of Williams, but I think Reeder performed admirably. If nothing else the endearing cuteness of the last panel on the library page won me over. Williams for his part continued the same style of layout and design that he previously established on the character's Detective Comics run. On colors, Dave Stewart continues to prove himself to be the greatest colorist in the history of comics.
While this issue doesn't delve deep enough into the character to alleviate any concerns that the loss of Rucka will be debilitating, the artistic collaboration made for a fun and interesting comic book experience.
Review by Greg
Batwoman returns with #0 of a new on-going series. And about damn time too. Greg Rucka and J. H. Williams III last year presented us to Elegy, one of DC's most finest comics to come out in a long time focusing on the story of Kathy Kane, the new socialite in Gotham with an Bat-alter-ego. Upon initial release of this character, the comic geekworld greeted the character with scorn and controversy, mostly due to her sexuality seemingly playing a big part of her characterization. Feelings didn't finally settle until readers read the Elegy arc in Detective and saw that she's mroe than just a lesbian but a solid character with a great foundation and backstory, along with a supporting cast, villains, motivations, etc. DC surely had a winner on their hands.
With this new series, Williams III returns as writer and artist with the help of W. Haden Blackman (co-writer) and Amy Reeder Hadley (co-artist). For new readers, this #0 serves as a jump on point and a recap issue told through the eyes of Batman. We get a sense of the character of Kathy Kane, her abilities and motivations, her cast, etc. For fans already, all this isn't new but its a welcome back embrace and a return to form. The story seems like it's heading us back to the strong elements of the character with the beautifully crafted artwork by William III. And those lay-outs--OH THOSE LAYOUTS!!! The colors by Dave Stewart works perfectly and leads readers to anticipate this wonderful creative team in telling us more about Kathy Kane.
Bring it on, Batwoman team. Bring it.
Review by Victorious Squid
Batwoman #0 is like a piece of Noritake china--sure the detail is fine and the pattern looks pretty, but in the end a plate is just a plate. Likewise, the artistic talents of J.H. Williams III and Amy Reeder illustrate a story best described as utilitarian or serviceable, creating a symmetrical flourish to the shared pages that's just a little too fancy for the workman-like investigation of Kate/Batwoman by Batman.
There aren't many cases where multiple artists in one single issue comic are welcome, but there are some. To me, this wasn't one of them. Even understanding the Williams' Batwoman/Reeder's Kate split scenes, I found the dual pages' combined compositions to be ugly and overly complicated. If the intent was to emphasize the schism between her superhero and civilian identities, it was almost overly effective as though the two were entirely different people. I didn't like Reeder's panels much at all, but will say the preview art for issue #1 by Williams III looked fantastic. His fight scene panels in this issue were a little overly-busy and confusing, with little insert panels and unnecessary border lines all over the place.
It's a zero issue. It serves to introduce new readers to the character. I tend to check out mentally when the "religion of crime" stuff comes up, and I rolled my eyes at yet another mysterious sarkofagi though, and the detached narrative by Batman gives the reader little true insight into this Kate Kane/Batwoman. There's enough information to introduce me to her, but not enough there to grab me and make me want to read more about her. There's no indication of who her supporting cast in her life is, except for her cousin Flamebird who ties her to a part of the DCU I have no interest in.
Hopefully her larger story will begin in issue #1--Batwoman has a lot of fans here, but there's not enough to this intro to make me one of them.
Review by GHERU
On its own, Batwoman #0 is a very good book. W. Haden Blackman and J. H. Williams III do a superb job of not only making this introductory issue new reader friendly but also interesting enough that existing fans would be entertained rather than bored. Futhermore, the split level story telling technique showed that these creators have enough respect for their fans and their craft to provide an intersting technique, even in a "trhow away" comic.
The art is nothing short of phenomenal, and is worth the cover price alone.
That being said, I probably won't be buying #1. I have tried Batwoman comics many times, and its not the writing, art, or even the character that I do not enjoy, its the story. The reason #0 was enjoyable was because we saw everything through Batman's eyes and didn't have to hear too much about the Cult of Crime and all that comes with it. For whatever reason, I jsut can't get into that group as her primary antagonist.
For anyone who has read and liked previous Batwoman books, you should enjoy this, and for new readers, if you like #0, try #1 in February and tell me how it is.
Story - 8
Art - 9
Review by Eli Katz
BATWOMAN #0 is a very inventive book. I love the way that Williams and Blackman divide the story in two, focusing on Batman's investigation of Batwoman and revealing Batman's biographical notes on Kate Kane simultaneously. I also love the way Williams draws the investigation sequences across the top half of the pages and Reeder draws the Kane backstory on the bottom half of the pages. What a smart way to introduce a character to new readers and still provide fanboys with enough hard-hitting, high-kicking, karate-chopping bang for their buck.
Williams' art is so incredible that it makes this book a worthwhile purchase, even if you don't give a damn about the title character. (I don't.) Amazingly, Reeder's art holds up well beside Williams' illustrations and is never visually jarring. This is quite the achievement because all too often books by multiple artists are notoriously inconsistent (just think of Image United).
BATWOMAN #0, with its visual flair and multilayered narrative, pulls off a lot of interesting creative moves in very few pages. If only more superhero books were this efficient and imaginative.
Review by BlueStreak
Batwoman #0 serves as an interesting introduction to Batwoman. While it serves to introduce the character of Batwoman to new readers as well as establish the new creative team, it does awfully little else, which is typical for a 16 page comic.
Using the recently returned Bruce Wayne as our narrator, readers are reintroduced to Batwoman. J H Williams nicely sums up her current status quo and supporting players and gives both Bruce and Kate some nice character moments. The heartening thing about the writing is that Williams (and his co-writer) seem to understand the detective in Bruce Wayne. He falls into multiple disguises, spying and testing Kate discretely. The bad thing is that the writers didn't show that they'd be able to follow up on Rucka's superlative job of fleshing out Batwoman as a three-dimensional character. Batwoman #0's story is cute, but it doesn't exactly dissuade doubts that J H Williams will fall into the "Tony Daniel" trap of being unable to both write and draw a Bat book.
However, J H Williams still shows that he's still the master of layouts, even when he's sharing the book with another artist. With his scenes focusing on Batwoman and artist Amy Reeder drawing scenes featuring Kate in her civilian identity, we're given a strong fusion of two unlike artists. Once again, the weakness in this set-up is that Reeder has no opportunity to draw Batwoman in her outfit or show that she's up to the task of at least holding the line when she's on art duties.
Williams and Reeder provide a fun first look at their upcoming series. Does it sway any worries about the book? No. But at the same time, it also doesn't add new doubts about the book either.
Review by Starlord
I liked this a lot. As a starting issue this set the stage perfectly for what's to come. Also I've been intrigued with the whole Crime Bible thing so this is really up my alley. I loved all of Rucka's stuff and I think this book may continue with that same high standard. Art is beautiful as always.
If I had one complaint it would be that this whole story comes from the POV of Batman. Not the best way to approach the first issue; doesn't give the new readers a real insight to Kate herself, but it's still servecable. I'll keep on going for the next four or five issues. Two good weeks in a row.
My Score: ummm... 9?
Review by guitarsmashley
To call this issue beautiful is a massive understatement. I don't know if there is a better visual story teller working in comics today or ever with the skills J.H. Williams has. This isn't my first rodeo with him having read Promethea, 6 issues of Desolation Jones(Warren Ellis sucks now) and the League of Batmen story and of course his previous work on Batwoman. He really is just that damn good. He has the rare ability to be both dark and vivid on the same page. He needs very little help on the art side of the book and Amy Reeder is a good way to speed him up considering I expect this book to suffer from massive delays.
What Williams does need though is help writing. Didn't Dick know Kane was Batwoman? Did he not keep the files updated? it really took bruce that long to figure it out? The book is very short on story and dialogue and I realize that's not what it's about. It's supposed to be an introduction to the character and that's fine but please progress her a little.
Review by Zero
JH Williams takes sole control of Batwoman's adventures, and brings two other people with him. Wait, what?
There's not a lot of story to review here, but I still managed to find a nit to pick at in the form of Batman's narration. I like the idea, and I like the way the character is set up so nicely I just don't like that the narration seems to be trying rather hard to justify a character that doesn't need it. Batman seems very taken with Kate Kane's methods and abilities and considering how much crap he usually gives to people he lets into the Batfamily, the free ride he's given this stranger feels really out of character here. The Batwoman portrayed in this story is a little too perfect for my taste.
The art however is just perfect enough. God damn. I have no idea how anyone can have their art on the same page as JH Williams but Amy Reeder Hadley pulls it off ably. Stunning layouts from two amazing artists give me nothing to complain about in the art apart from there not being enough of it.
Greg Rucka wrote a few solid Batwoman stories before, but the art has always been the real draw with this character and that remains here. I'd love to see the writing kicked up a notch to match, but when you're this good looking I guess you don't need so much more.
Review by Duck Punch
To say that the last major appearance of Batwoman, Elegy, made an impression on people is kind of like saying that Yao Ming and Shaquille O'Neal are kind of tall. In other words, it would be a serious understatement. So when it was announced that Batwoman would finally be getting her own stand-alone series instead of piggy-backing in Detective Comics, there was much jubilation throughout the land.
Then it was announced that Greg Rucka, the man who wrote the aforementioned story, would not be involved in the writing of the new series and many, including myself, were suddenly left in doubt as to the future of this character that seemingly come from nowhere to be a tour de force in the world of Gotham City.
Then came the announcement that J.H. Williams III, the artist behind Elegy, was announced as the man who would be writing the new series and... well, I can't speak for other Batwoman fans, but for myself, I was left dubious. Yeah, the man is a magician when it comes to artwork, but can he write?
So this brings us to Batwoman #0, an issue clearly designed to bring new readers up to speed on the character (or at least enough to be able to jump in) and also a chance to see just what Williams can do without Rucka's writing. The answer? Somewhat surprising.
The newly returned Bruce Wayne is scoping Kate Kane out to determine if she is, in fact, Batwoman and whether or not she has a place in his new Batman Incorporated scheme. This takes the form of following her and her family using various disguises, as well as watching her do battle with her long-time enemies in the Religion of Crime. In much the same way as was done during the Bruce Wayne: The Road Home series of one-shots, he gives a point-by-point analysis of Kate, her motivations, and her performance. While acknowledging that she is not exactly the same as himself or any of the heroes that he had a direct hand in training, she is nonetheless more than capable of performing her mission.
At this point, the most outstanding element of this issue needs to be addressed: the artwork. Anyone who read Elegy knew that Williams more than had the chops to make this book look pretty, but even knowing what you are in for does not necessitate being unable to appreciate just how great something is. Williams in on his game in both the Batwoman and the Kate Kane scenes, with some help from Amy Reeder and Richard Friend to help bring some distinguishing between the two angles. But again, it's all about Williams and his layouts. The man can do things with a page that very few others can do and certainly not many working today.
Now that the elephant in the room is out of the way, there's the small matter of the story. Now, as I alluded to above, going into this I wasn't entirely convinced that Williams was going to be able to pull this off as a writer. And at the end of the day, I'm still not. While the story was entertaining and his juxtaposition of Bruce's following of her both in her role as Kate Kane and as Batwoman was well-executed, it didn't strike me as really selling anything. And to be blunt: this was a new-reader intro issue. Frankly, it didn't seem like anything in this issue would have been that difficult to mess up. I'm still unsure.
So at the end of the day, this is a gorgeous book. One of the best-looking books I've seen all year. But I'm still not 100% sold on whether or not the man responsible for that art can also carry the writing load, even with the assistance of a co-writer.
Art: 9.9 out of 10
Story: 6.8 out of 10
Overall Score: 8.35 out of 10
Review by Jude Terror
It may seem like an odd choice for Batwoman #0 to be a Batman story rather than a Batwoman one, but it's actually a brilliant way to introduce the character to new readers. If there's one thing that can prevent a story of nothing but exposition not feel clunky, it's Batman narration. Just think about how this would have turned out if Batwoman herself were giving the narration? Not so nice, right?
There's not much of a story here, and there isn't meant to be, but the art is fantastic, both from Williams and Reeder. I was already sold on Batwoman, and this book didn't do anything to change my mind, but I do think it will serve as a fine introduction for readers unfamiliar with the character.
Thru eleven reviews, the Review Group's Score for Batwoman #0 is 7.97. This puts it just shy of the elusive 8 score that only three books in the last thirty weeks have scored. If you have an opinion about the book, please don't be shy. Just sign up for the forums and post here.
And don't forget to join us next week (i.e Thursday) for
as chosen by Daringd.
Written by ANDY DIGGLE
Pencils & Cover by ROBERTO DE LA TORRE
A SHADOWLAND TIE-IN: FINAL ISSUE! Years of acting as the Guardian Devil of Hell's Kitchen have taken their toll on The Man Without Fear. Hell's Kitchen lies in ruins, and it is up to the people of New York to start anew and begin rebuilding. In this last chapter of his story, will Matt Murdock at last find final redemption for the events of SHADOWLAND?
32 PGS./Rated T+ ...$3.99
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Review by: BlueStreak
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About the Author - Christian Hoffer
Christian Hoffer is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Hoffer is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.
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