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?’

BATWOMAN #1
Writer(s): J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman
Artist: J.H. Williams III
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letter: Todd Klein
Editor: Michael Marts
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

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…

Rating: ★★★★★

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?)

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

28 Comments

      • There’s also IceMaiden (Sigrid Nansen) who’s bi-sexual and could somewhat fit in the category (since there’s probably less than a dozen lesbian/bi female characters in the DCU, and I’m pretty sure less than 2 dozen gay/bi characters of both sexes in the DCU (and no, Triumph doesn’t count since he never officially came out even though he was originally written as a gay character… That, and according to Dan Didio via Facebook, he no longer exists in DCNU any ways)).

        • (and no, Triumph doesn’t count since he never officially came out even though he was originally written as a gay character… That, and according to Dan Didio via Facebook, he no longer exists in DCNU any ways)).

          Not a terrific loss, as his position in the DCU only works if Superman isn’t around at the formation of the JLA…

          • I always preferred the beginning of the JLA sans Bats and Supes any ways… Always felt Triumph had potential, but beyond the initial story he was mishandled…

  1. I find it insulting that the veteran Bette is treated like a moron by the rookie Kate especially since Kate has just STARTED to operate on her own without her father as the brains/sometimes sidekick (and he probably will resume that role as soon as their relationship magically gets fixed when the evil twin comes back) I don’t know WHY we just assume Kate is so much better. We’ve not been SHOWN Kate as this great fighter and amazing Batwoman, we’re just told she is. Why? She has military training? So that makes her a good SUPERHERO? Ok.. sure..
    I think this comic is pretty, but the character just.. is a bore. She’s very reliant on her father, her story has become WAY too confusing and honestly? This title has not been set up as a good jump on point (Not that all of the new DCU have done that yet.. but that was suppose to be the IDEA). Also, Kate has yet to hook up with Holly Robinson, the former Catwoman.

    • I suspect that the Bette thing is less that Bette isn’t a veteran, but that Bette isn’t TRAINED, and that she’s always been something of a dilettante in crime-fighting (especially when the person looking at her is a member of the core Bat-family, i.e. Bruce, Dick, etc.) Kate isn’t really any better as a hero, it’s just that she’s more “professional” about it, even if she’s pretty much a mess otherwise.

      Basically, Batwoman is in charge because it’s Batwoman’s book, and the character is treating Bette like a cadet (hence the “Plebe”) bit, probably to use the same style of West Point training & discipline to make a better Bette (from Kate’s perspective, anyway.)

    • This is something I would like to pick up in Trade format.

      Just remember: Every person who waits for the trade is one less copy bought, which can lead to the series ending before it’s collected.

      *the more you knooooow*

      • Agree with you there…

        I told a few friends (when they buy a trade of a series I pick up) that they can buy this thanks to people like me who collect the single issues…so they need to thank me…

        …but no one listens to poor old Mokin…

  2. I was really impressed with this book.
    It did a really good job of letting us know that there was a good chunk of continuity before this issue but putting that history in a succinct package that won’t alienate a new reader from the current goings-on

    This issue should stand as a primer for the other continuity-inclusive New 52 titles for how to bring in the old with the new.

    • I was set to agree with you (save on one point) until I read S’s comment below. BATWOMAN has way less continuity than Green Lantern or Batman, and it was well summed up, but it looks like it still leaves new readers out in the cold.

      That one point was Bette’s past as a Teen Titan. The blurbs for the DCnU Titans read like the team is forming for the first time. Certainly the Wonder Girl and Kid Flash characters are new. Perhaps this is one of the already-written bits when the debut issue was held until after the relaunch, but they should’ve edited it out. Probably should also have redrawn a couple pages and brought Bette in at a later point. New readers already have to accept Batwoman, the backstory with Alice, and more; we shouldn’t have them wondering what a “teen titan” is also. Especially since if they go out and buy the trade, they will find no mention of flamebirds or teen titans.

  3. Beautiful book, but hella confusing, both in layout and plot. As someone who’s never read a Batwoman comic, I got zilch into what’s going on, and whatever did go on didn’t really seem interesting enough to keep going.

    Also, I have to wonder how no one has put two and two together that a picket-fence pale woman with flaming red hair could be a picket-fence pale superhero with flaming red hair.

      • I’m surprised Bruce Wayne isn’t the same complexion what with his staying up fighting crime all night long and sleeping during the day (what little sleep he does get). They’re practically vampires, but maybe she’s photosensitive. Or, she’s a redhead, maybe she hates freckling so much.

  4. This is the dela with La Llorona, The Weeping Woman: in the XVIII century in Mexico, called New Spain in those days, ask MajosSpoiler Crew Rodrigo for extra bits, a rich and beatiful widow wanted to marry a young yet rascal man. He denied to marry her unless she got rid of her children, so at midnight ina amad frenzy , she took her children to a night stroke and drowned them all ina a river. The widow calls his lover and tells him the grisly truth, but he quickly rejects her, calling her crazy for killing her own children. The woman finally gets mad and runs thru the streets if Mexico City yellin “‘¡Ay, mis hijos, donde estan mis pobrecitos hijos!” “Alas. my children, where are my poor children”. From that night, her spirit roams the earth, those who have seen her describe her as a white and vaporous lady with long hair, but when you look closely at her, you realize that her eye sockets are empty, her bare feet are pure bones. She appears near the rivers and is able to wall though mirors, to steal childrens or their souls.

  5. Apparently Madam Xanadu and Icemaiden are both Bisexual characters, but yeah, besides those listed above, she and Renee Montoya are the two higher profile lesbians in the DCU, not counting whoever Maggie Sawyer is.

  6. Gorgeous as hell. Williams delivers jaw-dropping eye candy without seeming exploitative. (I just bought Alan Moore’s Promethea-Vol. 3-I’d forgot Williams did the art on that, too, but I’m not surprised.) The story was good, there were some layered plot threads to keep me interested, and a very solid #1 book with a lot going on right out of the gate. A definite keeper for the pull list.

  7. Balian_Ironguard on

    Been giving the new 52 a try, and oddly enough, Batwoman has been the one I liked the least. I appreciate the story-telling design of it (being a very visually oriented person, this is kinda important or something), but this didn’t feel like a jumping on point for someone who went into a book cold. The writing isn’t quite clicking for me for some reason. I’ll flip through issue two, not sold on buying it yet.

    • I can understand that. While I loved this book, the design layout, the visuals of the story, all of it basically. I can definitely see how this book is a much more difficult read than some of the others. I had some difficulty in my read through, I had to go much more slowly and read it a few times to get a good feel for it, but that’s not saying the story will make more sense or the reading will necessarily get better the more you read it, I just understood things more and saw more in the different layers of the art and layout the more I read it.

      You really liked this one less than Hawk and Dove? Or was it one of those things where of all the titles you thought you’d like or looked interesting to you, this was your least favorite from those?

    • Yeah, I had a similar problem. I read it through a few times to really try to get the feel for the book and see the layout in broader senses, since my first read through was just closely looking at word balloons. I think it’ll turn into a really interesting cohesive story as it goes on, but at this point I’m intrigued enough to keep checking it out. :)

  8. Balian_Ironguard on

    I’ve been kinda picking and choosing books, since buying all is not going to happen. Between the two, Batwoman looked more interesting (and it’s the one I’ve got the most name recognition with if only for the ‘no seriously we’re actually releasing it this time… seriously!’). I havn’t read Hawk and Dove, cause quite frankly Rob Liefeld’s art makes me want to punch things.

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