REVIEW: Batwoman #0

by

Or – “The Immediacy Of First-Person Dialogue…”

I am saddened to say that, of all the comics I’m behind reading, I’m probably furthest behind on Batwoman.  The last thing I remember reading was issue #4, and then there’s a huge blur.  I looked up from that comic in a brand-new year, and suddenly it’s nearly October.  Will Batwoman still hold the same power after a prolonged absence?  There’s only one way to find out, as your Major Spoilers review awaits!

BATWOMAN #0
Writer(s): J.H. Williams III/W. Hayden Blackman
Artist: J.H. Williams III
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Todd Klein
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Batwoman:  Kate Kane is the Batwoman, a mysterious vigilante of Gotham City’s night.  She’s also a former marine, drummed out of service due to what some would term her “alternative sexuality,” a little bit of a screw-up, and probably the most human of the Batman Family.  How did she end up as the crimson-and-black-clad hero?

RAYMOND CHANDLER OVERDRIVE…

Part of the appeal of Kate Kane as a character has always been that fact that she ISN’T your typical bat-person.  She’s exceptional, certainly, but has a human edge that Dick Grayson, Damian Wayne or even super-genius-eidetic-memory-Olympic-level-gymnast Barbara Gordon never quite get back to.  This issue starts with a remarkably clever meta-textual device, as Kate explains via recording to her estranged father that she records a goodbye message to him before every mission in case she dies.  Or, at least, she used to, before she realized that he had been lying to her since she was a child.  I’ve gone on the record as stating that I liked DC’s boldness in restarting their entire universe at the same time last September, but I have to say, I’m pleased that Batwoman’s origins remain the same.  She still grew up in a relatively happy family, still lost her mother and sister in a terrible tragedy, still got booted out of the service and lost in a bottle.   She even still discovered that her long-lost twin sister wasn’t lost at all, and that her father seems to have known about it all along.  There’s some wonderful emotional character work at play here, as we see previously unrevealed interactions between Kate and Beth, between Kate and her father, and some truly touching moments in Batwoman’s life.

GOOD LORD, THAT’S PURTY…

J.H. Williams III is back on art chores this issue, and holy moley is it lovely work to look at.  Young Kate and Beth are adorable, identical, individual and clearly young pre-teen girls.  The progression of aging we see for Batwoman is quite breathtaking as well, taking her from child to young woman to superheroic powerhouse while clearly remaining the same woman.  We also get to see the depths of her despair, and some completely horrifying moments during her training, moments that make Batwoman seem even more bad@$$ than Batman in my eyes.  The story itself is a quick recap of Batwoman’s origin, but the creators seem aware that it wasn’t all that long ago that they told the story for the first time, adding as much detail and personality as they can, leaving each page bursting with artsy goodness and character work.  The first-person voice of Batwoman tells us/Daddy her story, but much of the story is hidden in the things she cannot or will not say.  Most satsifyingly, the issue is distinctively lacking in “Can’t armor my head” macho Bat-nonsense.  As a male reader, I like how authentic this narrative feels, how Batwoman’s gender and sexuality are prominent and important, but not the only things that matter here…

THE BOTTOM LINE: THEY’VE GOT ME BUYING A BAT-BOOK, WHAT DOES THAT TELL YA?

The ultimate upshot of all this blah-blah-blah?  This book is good.  It’s a good read, it understands that it has to give us new insights to offset the fact that they just told this tale a year or two ago, and it looks phenomenal to boot.  Batwoman #0 is really sort of marvelous, delivering strong art, good emotional impact, and making the lead character awesome without resorting to narrative foolishness, earning a well-deserved 5 out of 5 stars overall.  I just wish there were a higher profile for the character and her awesomeness, rather than having to exist in the metaphorical shadow of Barbara “Batgirl” Gordon…

Rating: ★★★★★

DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!
Reader Rating

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (11 votes, average: 4.09 out of 5)


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