I’m going to be honest: When J.H. Williams left Batwoman, I initially left with him. But lately, I’ve been wondering where Kate Kane is in the greater scheme of the New 52, and decided to check in on our mighty Batwoman to catch up, just in time for Zero Year… Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
Kate gets some nice character work.
Some of the art is quite good.
Inconsistency of artists.
One change of premise can mess with everything.
Writer: Marc Andreyko
Artist(s): Trevor McCarthy/AndreaMutti/PatOlliffe/Jim Fern
Inker(s): Jay Leisten/Tom Nguyen
Colorist: Guy Major
Letterer: Todd Klein
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Previously in Batwoman: Kate Kane was drummed out of West Point due to her sexual orientation, returning to her home town of Gotham City and embarking on a career as Batwoman, crimson-and-black guardian of the night. She has stopped all manner of criminal scum, working alongside Batman and Wonder Woman, and even unraveled the mystery of the original Batwoman, also named Kathy Kane. (How all of that works is still a little bit fuzzy for me, but whaddayagonnado?) This, however, takes place long before all of that, in a Gotham City that has yet to know the protection of its Dark Knight…
“I’VE HAD ENOUGH OF ATTENDING FUNERALS.”
We open in the recent past, with Kate Kane seemingly drowning as bullets rains down into the water around her. This triggers the flashback, which reveals Kate coming home from the military academy for the funeral of her Uncle Phil, musing about how tired she is of death already. (Remember, she’s already lost her mother and twin sister to horrible crimes, assuming that her origins haven’t changed again in the last 20 minutes or so.) At the same time, the criminal Riddler has been attacking Gotham, causing blackouts and widespread chaos to further his own strange agenda. The interactions between Kate and her father are still wonderful, even under the new writer, but given that Andreyko was the mind behind the late, lamented Manhunter solo series, I’m not surprised. As they exit the funeral, Kate and her father are confronted by none other than Alfred Pennyworth, whom she treats as an old friend. Alfred invites her to Wayne Manor for Phil’s wake/reception, saying that Bruce will be happy to see her, something that confuses the hell out of me. By the time they reach Wayne Manor, I realize that one other premise has changed as well…
WAIT. BATMAN AND BATWOMAN ARE *COUSINS*, NOW?
She runs into Bruce Wayne, and they talk about their shared uncle, which means that Kate Kane is now related by blood to the Wayne Family. While I’m not immediately opposed to this idea, it does have a muting effect on Batwoman’s back story, turning her from a determined woman who made herself a Dark Knight to emulate the existing hero, to a legacy character. Tying her into Wayne’s family tree feels constrictive, once again falling back to a fallacious argument that all heroes need a common origin. Certainly it’s not as bad as everyone in the Ultimate universe having their powers tied to the super-soldier formula, but it’s the kind of change that could really undermine the character. The rest of the issue is Kate sneaking out of Wayne Manor in the dead of night, and stopping a gang of looters from taking advantage of the power outage. There’s a lot of Maggie Sawyer in the issue as well, and in a nice continuity touch, she is still with the Metropolis PD, coming in to support Gotham’s police during the emergency. It’s all pretty by-the-numbers stuff, ending with Kate falling asleep in her dad’s car after being picked up from a hospital emergency room…
THE BOTTOM LINE: A GOOD STORY, BUT ONE THAT DIMINISHES THE BAT-UNIVERSE.
All in all, the issue is an okay one, but not terribly engaging in terms of making me want to come back and get dragged into Batwoman’s adventures. The layouts and art are good, but Kate Kane looks like almost a different person entirely under the pens of this issue’s multiple artists, and J.H. Williams creative layouts are sorely missed. Batwoman #25 serves as a run of the mill issue with a big sore thumb plot point that bothers me like a sore tooth, but doesn’t serve to torpedo the whole issue, leaving us with an average issue and 2.5 out of 5 stars overall. It’s not a bad book, and I might come back and see where she is once all the Zero Year stuff is done, but I don’t feel a really strong compelling motive to do so.