Or – “The Wild, Wild World Of Batwoman!”
So, yes. This book has been announced quite a few times, if memory serves, and I was starting to worry that we’d NEVER find out what happened to Batwoman after Bruce Wayne so rudely took back Detective Comics from her last year. But is the New-52-Batwoman the same character we’ve come to know since ’52?’
Previously, on Batwoman: Kate Kane was a military brat, who graduated West Point with honors, but that didn’t stop her from being drummed out of service when her same-sex affair with another cadet came to light. Her life fell entirely to pieces, until a chance encounter with the Batman changed everything, giving her a new outlook on life and a new purpose. She has worked alongside and battled the fellow members of Batman, Incorporated, but her strangest case came with the the arrival in Gotham of a villain called ‘Alice,’ who seems to somehow be her long-dead twin sister returned to life. Whatever the future has in store for Batwoman, someone’s still going to be mad that Barbara Gordon has to be ‘Batgirl’ because of her.
A New Start, With A New Love Interest?
This issue kicks off with a very moody, creepy, disturbing sequence, as a strange blue ghostly figure looks us straight in the eyes. I had forgotten how moody and expressive Williams’ art could be, but immediately this issue hooked me, as the unseen narrator describes how a ghostly figure arrived to steal her children. Batwoman arrived to stop the creature, but the spectral kidnapper stole away with the little ones, and the heroine promised to get them back. Cut to Gotham P.D., as Detective Maggie Sawyer concludes her interview with the grieving parents… I was worried when Greg Rucka wasn’t included as the writer of this series, but the transition here is very well handled, going from Batwoman’s vow to save the children to Maggie’s more carefully worded promise to never stop looking. As Detective Sawyer walks them out, she crosses paths with Kate Kane (secretly the Batwoman!) and we transition seamlessly into a charming character bit, as the two women decide that they should go out (do they still call them dates?), even though Kate may or may not have had a thing with Maggie’s former co-worker Renee Montoya. That’s a lot of stuff to get into the first HALF of an issue, but the whole thing moves, smooth as glass, organically from one sequence to the next.
The Legend of La Llorona…
Kate suits up, along with her cousin/niece/something-or-other Bette Kane (originally the Golden Age Batgirl, now the Teen Titan called Flamebird) and sets out into the Gotham night. Once again, transitions are seamless, as Kate and Bette discuss recent history, Bette’s career, and why Kate won’t speak to her own father after the events of the Detective Comics arc. Williams habit of building the panel borders to resemble Batwoman’s chest-symbol continue, but in a truly brilliant stroke, he creates a panel that is a melange of the red bat and a flame-bird. I truly want to hate this man for how effortlessly this issue comes together. There’s more continuity bits in the issue (which makes sense, as it was more than likely plotted an possibly COMPLETED) before the New 52 was a reality, with Cameron Chase sent to find Batwoman, Maggie Sawyer learning the urban legend of La Llorona (‘The Weeping Woman’) and Batman arrives to end the issue with a cliff-hanger: “I have a proposition for you…” (I hope he knows she’s dating Maggie, because… AWKWAAARD!)
The Verdict: Flat-Out GORGEOUS.
Holy CRAP is this a beautiful book. Every single page is just packed with with detail and expression, and even the scenes where Kate and Bette change into their crime-fighting clothes are impressive. A lesser artist would give us static pneumatic blah blah blah fishcakes, but Williams gives both women realistic anatomy and doesn’t turn it into a peek-a-boo situation. The story maintains the complexity and moral ambiguity that we have come to expect from Gotham (and more to the point, from Batwoman) while the emotional moments with Kate confronting her father play out in a very realistic fashion, so much so that you feel bad for Bette awkwardly forced to stand and listen. I’ve read 20 of the New 52 as of this very moment (5:09 p.m. on the 14th of September) and all of them have something to offer, even Hawk & Dove. But Batwoman #1 is hands-down my favorite book so far, not only of the New 52 but in recent memory, earning 5 out of 5 stars overall. It’s not easy to live up to hype (especially in today’s comics industry) but this comic sticks the landing in gold-medal fashion…
Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Is it weird that Kate Kane has now been involved with BOTH of the established lesbian characters in the DCU? (Or have I missed someone?)