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Tag Archive: W. Haden Blackman


batwoman-issue-1-cover    batwoman-begins-page-one

One of the most popular characters and series to emerge from DC Comics’ New 52 reboot in 2011 was J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman’s Batwoman.  Not only was the series popular, it received critical acclaim for Williams’ gritty storytelling and the stylish and spectacular, ethereal, and surreal artwork by Blackman.  The classic B-level superheroine of the 1950s had been reintroduced as Kate Kane with a new Alex Ross-designed costume in 2006.  In the DC Comics weekly series 52 the character became the most memorable legacy of the series–ex-military, a lesbian, of Jewish descent, with her ex, Renee Montoya, a Gotham police detective—rare constructs for any character in comicdom.  In the best of ironies, the character created to combat accusations of Batman’s sexuality in the 1950s became a symbol of the very thing she was made to deflect.

Beyond the symbolism of the modern character and success as a new iconic character, Williams and Blackman wrote a great Bat-book.  But after several successful months as a New 52 series, editorial decisions and creator ideas crossed streams and the series fizzled out.  Happily for fans of the character, DC is bringing Batwoman onto center stage once again.  Beginning this month in Detective Comics Issue #948 and continuing in February with Issue #949, the two-part “Batwoman Begins” arc forms the prologue for the monthly Rebirth continuity one-shot Batwoman: Rebirth in February and the series Batwoman, beginning in March.

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Writers Marguerite Bennett and James T. Tynion IV are co-writing the initial story with Bennett to take over the series later in the year.  Artwork will be provided by Steve Epting and Ben Oliver.  Jae Lee will be creating a variant cover for the series’ first issue.

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SCARLET-WITCH-#1

Last week saw the release of the first issue of Marvel Comics’ latest monthly Scarlet Witch.  The series is written by James Robinson with artwork by Vanesa Del Rey with colors by Jordie Bellaire.  Award winning Hawkeye cover artist David Aja provides the cover to the first issue, plus variant covers are available from Kevin Wada, Bill Sienkiewicz, Erica Henderson, Tom Raney, and Chris Sotomayor.  It’s not only David Aja’s cover, but Robinson’s well-paced introduction and Del Rey and Bellaire’s visuals that remind us of Matt Fraction and Aja’s successful Hawkeye series, another series about a secondary character and a life outside the scope of saving the world with the Avengers.

The new Scarlet Witch has a ghostly quality, and a style similar to DC Comics’s initial New 52 stories of Batwoman from J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman.  It’s introspective look at a superheroine with a past also echoes Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s brilliant Black Widow series.

Scarlet Witch interior page

But this is a distinctly different story about a much different character.  She is not a young heroine.  She is a witch who speaks aloud with the ghost of Agatha, a dead woman she may or may not have killed in her past.  Scarlet Witch–Wanda Maximoff–is a detective of sorts in the same way as Liv Moore uses her supernatural skills to solve crimes in iZombie.

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MissFury007CovSyaf

Sassy, smart, and seductive.  It applies to Marla Drake, the Miss Fury of the 1940s and of today in Dynamite Comics’ time-hopping series Miss Fury.  And it applies to Drake’s masked persona and the series itself.  Writer Rob Williams and artist Jack Herbert have provided their response to the much-lauded Batwoman team of J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman.  And just as the Williams III and Blackman team-up created one of the best comic book series in its first year out of the gates, so has team Williams and Herbert with their first year of Miss Fury.

Catsuits and pointy ears aside, Miss Fury is a unique take on the world’s first superheroine.  Writer Rob Williams concocted the surprise hit of the year–a book that might not have been on pull lists yet it was swiped off the store shelves every week as readers couldn’t get enough of the series.  Among many classic titles emerging from the publisher known for licensed works from the past like The Shadow, the Green Hornet, and the Bionic Man, Miss Fury is a non-stop, action-filled, fun read–it’s a comic book series that will remind you why you love comic books in the first place.

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As a comic book artist that excels at the feminine form, Brazilian artist Jackson “Jack” Herbert is well on his way to becoming the next Adam Hughes.  His Marla Drake is a sophisticate back in the 1940s.  In 2013 she is a provocateur, an agent of an untrustworthy manipulator, murdering as he directs, because she believes she can save America from a dreadful alternative reality.

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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?

Check.

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?

Check.

A great costume, highlighted by Dave Stewart’s eye-popping choice of colors?  And a redheaded superhero that wears a red-haired wig?

Check.

Romance–Batwoman’s love life–her relationships–are one focus of her ongoing story.

Check.

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.

Check.

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.

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