Credits & Solicit Info:
If there's any one thing that's constant about the current Batwoman, it is the fact that the events around her existence are just as engaging as the stories that have been written about her and the story surrounding her new ongoing is no exception. For starters, Batwoman #1 was supposed to launch nearly 18 months ago, with the move hot on the heels of her successful run on "Detective Comics." Unfortunately, this strategy would be hindered by both Greg Rucka's (the writer of the Award-Winning 'Elegy' storyline) departure from DC and 3 separate delays that helped this book become a part of DC's history making re-launch. Within that time, J.H. Williams III (the artist of that Detective run) and W. Haden Blackman were chosen to take up where Rucka had left off. With 21 months of anticipation and some of the biggest shoes in the medium to fill, can Batwoman #1 be worthy to sit upon the foundation that 'Elegy' built for the character? The answer is just below you.
From the minute J.H. Williams announced that he would take the reins of this series, the pressure for him (and in turn W. Haden Blackman) to produce a worthy follow up to Rucka's work would be enormous and if this comic is any indication, they fully understood what was expected of them. To begin with, Batwoman #1 possesses the same strong, believable dialogue that readers come to expect from a "Batwoman" title. Beyond just helping to move the story along, these lines help to give unique voices to the characters', from Detective Sawyer's determined, calm but responsible resolve, to Commissioner Gordon's experienced yet non-cynical guiding hand, to Kate Kane's single-minded determination to her mission each character is extremely distinguishable. Speaking of Kate Kane, we are given an excellent look at the multiple dimensions of this character as we are treated to a principle, yet tortured woman who's determined to make a difference in her own way. We also get an excellent look at her flaws which include her stubbornness and even a little bit of hypocrisy in the way she treats her new sidekick/partner and it's due to those flaws that Kate Kane may be the best-rounded and compelling character in the Bat-Universe has at this moment. Finally, the overall writing job is helped by a well-structured story that helps to enhance the characters' presented within. Overall, I have to say that the writing team may full well be up to the challenge at hand.
Before Rucka hit his stride in the second half of the Elegy storyline, Williams was able to keep readers spellbinded with amazing art that separated him from his peers and Batwoman #1 continues right where he left off. After the reader is greeted by a cover that is near impossible to ignore, the first thing that they'll notice is the amazing attention to detail that the artist employs in each drawing. From the character drawings to the backgrounds the scenes take place in; there isn't a single drawing in this comic that feels like it was done by some type of shorthand to save time. Of course, such an amazing art package cannot come together without amazing support on colors, something that Dave Stewart gives in spades. It is thanks to his expert-level work that the scenes where the colors bleed together look as amazing as they do. Also, special props must be given letterist Todd Klein, whose work helps the villain gain an extra special level of creepy due to the unique way her word bubbles are structured and serving as another example of how extra effort can enhance the work at large.
Still, despite all of the praise I have given this art from a truly aesthetic standpoint, the highest praise must be given to how the art enhances the story at large. Showing off the masterful art direction, each of the 3 unique styles have scenes where the art becomes the main storytelling engine. From the panel where Renee Montoya is the only color in Kate Kane's World, to the 2 page spread that begins with the weeping woman's hair leads us to the drowned victim and the final 2 page spread where we learn about the main personal conflict in Batwoman's life, the use of imagery is simply the stuff the legend. Batwoman #1 has definitely set an artwork benchmark that almost every comic will have a tough time matching.
From an accessibility standpoint, Batwoman #1 mostly does everything it needs to do to make sure that the new reader can penetrate the material at large. Over the course of the comic, almost every important story aspect is introduced in a manner where the new reader has everything they need to understand what's going on. Character motivations, relations and interactions are explained and displayed in a manner where everyone understands what makes this story move forward. The best example of this is near the end of the comic where we get a full explanation as to why the main character and her father are at odds. However, there are a couple of points where things may seem a bit out of place, especially with the 2-Page Department of Extranormal Operations scene. While, there reasoning for getting involved is spelled out in a satisfactory manner, the way they're placed into the story could've been done a bit better as it feels like they're just another "mysterious organization" out of nowhere that has become part and parcel with the new 52. Still, despite that one point of contention, a new reader will have more than enough to become invested with everything going on here.
My Final 22 Cents:
When I first got my hands on this Batwoman #1, I was a bit nervous that this comic would either not live up to the hype, or end up being impenetrable due to it being finished 6 months beforehand. Fortunately, neither of those things occurred, as Batwoman #1 continued right where her Detective run ran off and is truly one of the best #1s that DC produced this month. With an engaging story, compelling character work and amazing art, Batwoman has earned a place on my pull list for as long as the quality continues to be this high. If you're looking for something fresh in the Batman Universe, "Batwoman" will surely provide you with what you're looking for in spades.
The Bottom Line:
Writing 23/25: If this issue is any indication, then Batwoman is extremely capable hands.
Art 25/25: Accept no substitutes; this is best drawn Big 2 Superhero comic on the
Accessibility 20/25: Except for one scene, a new reader will get everything they
need from this comic.
Enjoyablity 24/25: This comic reminded me why I've fallen in love with the character and her world at large.
Final Judgment: 92/100
Review by: Linwood Earl Knight
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