Review by C.J. Bunce
Batwoman is a bit of an enigma. To one extent she is historically just another Batman in women’s garb. If you really wanted to bring Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl up to date in a new universe, the logical way to do it would be to drop the dated “girl” reference and finally give the adult Gordon her due as the “woman” superhero. By way of background, Batwoman was originally brought into the DC universe to show fans that Batman was straight, several decades ago. With Crisis on Infinite Earths in the 1980s, she was virtually extinguished from the DC timeline. She was only brought back a few years ago as part of the DC series 52. To diversify readership DC made her of Jewish background and a lesbian. So she is unique in the DC universe for several reasons, but her alter ego as Kate Kane was so interesting and integral to the storyline of 52 that DC left readers begging for more.
The new Batwoman #1 (written and drawn by J.H. Williams III, with co-writing credits to W. Haden Blackman) is so good, as was Batgirl #1, you’ll easily push any reservations you may have aside and embrace this fully realized, modern superhero.
Batwoman has a lot going for it.
A driven, smart, savvy, sexy heroine?
Stunning visuals, including two-page spreads with a floating trio of story panels that carries you across the pages, and a truly unique storytelling style that you won’t see in other books?
A great costume, highlighted by Dave Stewart’s eye-popping choice of colors? And a redheaded superhero that wears a red-haired wig?
Romance–Batwoman’s love life–her relationships–are one focus of her ongoing story.
Women in all the leading roles, from the superhero, to the sidekick, to the police detective who is after Batwoman. And we get one brief scene with Commissioner James Gordon for good measure.
I had flipped through recent graphic novel pages of J.H. Williams’s work on Batwoman and was bothered by the strange, unique art style. I couldn’t place it but it was almost like someone wasn’t using enough black ink on the artist renderings. For whatever reason it just didn’t work for me. The new Batwoman doesn’t have that. The style is not only unique it is stylish, from the covers to the flashbacks in black and white to the fight scenes and bridges between the main plot points.
For those new to the character, Kate Kane has a few pages that give us some back story–to bring us up to speed with her world from the 52 series to the present. Kane has past relationships and current ones, both of the friend and romance varieties. In the first issue she is after a criminal element that is taking the children of Gotham.
As Batwoman she appears as an equal to Batman. She is no longer a secondary character relegated to fill-in roles in crossover series. By making her not just a woman version of Batman, it seems to have opened up storylines and possibilities for this character. Along with Batgirl this is at the top of the new DC series, for both its design, story and colors, to its interesting storyline.