Last October, Batwoman found herself going head-to-head with the Dark Knight himself under the command of Mister Bones of the DEO. What actually happened to end that arc? The story can finally be told! Your Major Spoilers review of Batwoman Annual #1 awaits!
Previously in Batwoman: Some months ago, due to behind the scenes machinations, the Batwoman creative team left the book under a cloud of editorial meddling, leaving their arc unfinished. Batwoman jumped into a ‘Zero Year’ story, then began a whole new arc of story with the new team in place and an almost entirely new supporting cast and status quo, leaving untold the end of that arc. What exactly happened in Kate Kane’s life?
ONCE UPON A TIME IN GOTHAM
“I shouldn’t be doing this,” thinks Batwoman as the story opens, with a city under siege, and Mister Bones ordering her to beat down and unmask The Batman. Given that the previous creative team reportedly left the book in protest of the editorial mandate that Batwoman would NOT be able to marry her fiancée, Andreyko has a pretty thankless job ahead of him in wrapping up the events of the ‘Blood Is Thick’ arc. There’s a lot going on here, and it’s a difficult balance to keep, as Batwoman has been tasked with defeating DC’s flagship character at his own game. No matter what the outcome, somebody’s going to be unhappy. This issue isn’t quite up to the standards set by Williams and Blackman, but that’s not necessarily unexpected. Artistically, the team of McCarthy and Moritat are good, but they’re nowhere near the jaw-dropping visual quality that Williams brought to the run. The story of Bette “Hawkfire” Kane, the artist formerly known as Flamebird and/or the Golden Age Batgirl, gets a decent ending here, and we do get to see what happened to Kate’s twin sister Elizabeth, aka the villain Alice. There’s a very satisfying moment where Batwoman refuses Bones’ commands, but still manages to take down Batman (admittedly with a cheap shot), which leads to a great bit of character interaction between the two Bats, wherein both of them come out looking stronger at the end. And when Batman reveals that he could have escaped her bonds whenever he wanted, but chose to give her a chance to redeem herself, it reads a Batwoman’s graduation into the official ranks of the Bat-family.
BAT VERSUS BAT
Cameron Chase and Mister Bones are both kind of jerks throughout the issue, with both of their personal issues combining into a perfect storm of poor decision-making, culminating in a scene where Batwoman delivers Batman to them and unmasks him as…
…Kate’s father, Jacob Kane? And Mister Bones immediately whimpers, “D-Dad?” It’s a weird moment for me, one that was sort of foreshadowed and sort of not in the previous run, and things suddenly get crazy when Nightwing, Batgirl and the real Batman come busting in to bring things down. Andreyko does an admirable job, but the story ends up being a case of matching up ends, as we know where Batwoman is coming out of this tale, so everything gets wrapped up with a bow. There aren’t any super-surprises in these pages, but we do get resolutions for Bette, for Alice and Jacob, as well as a nice metaphorical ending wherein Batman and Batwoman swing through the skies of Gotham together, finally cementing her acceptance by not only her actual father but her superheroic forebear. There’s also a point where the art seems to shift from one style to another, but since the issue credits McCarthy and Moritat without breaking down who does what (a really frustrating new trend from DC, it seems) there’s no way to really tell, but the effect is a bit disconcerting when reading the issue…
THE BOTTOM LINE: A TAD OVER-DRAMATIC
As a whole, this issue features some nice moments for most of the cast, but the over-the-top antics of Chase and Bones are difficult to resolve, and no matter how well the loose ends are tied up, it has been more than six months since the story this wraps up appeared, leaving it feeling a little bit like leftover pizza. Sure, it’s still good, but it might have been better when it was warm and fresh. All in all, though, Batwoman Annual #1 makes the best of a difficult situation and lets our hero get in her licks against the dadgum Batman, as well as giving us some closure on the previous era of Batwoman, earning a better-than-average 3 out of 5 stars overall. (Plus, Mister Bones gets shot in the head, so… y’know, bonus.)