BatWatch Review: Batwoman #24 - Plots

Just a super short review since I'm so far behind.

This is the last issue of Williams, Blackman and McCarthy on Batwoman. It's the end of an era and a sad day if you have enjoyed the series thus far. Thankfully, they finished well. It's not everything I might wish, but it's still a solid tale. 

The amount of forethought is what I appreciate about this particular issue. I love it when a plan comes together, and we get to see the intricate layers that the Kane Clan has devised to take down the Batman. We also get to see Bruce and his strategic mind take down Bane which is good in the sense that it reminds us that we are seeing a showdown between two great competitors but disappointing in that it shows Bane too easily defeated for a villain that is supposed to be one of Batman's ultimate nemeses.

The art is odd perhaps due to having three different finishers on the issue. It leaves things looking noticeably inconsistent.  

Regardless of these and a few other little flaws, Batwoman #24 still does a great job of exposing the enormity of this battle between Batwoman and Batman and presenting us ringside seats to the opening flurry of blows. It might not be where the creators wanted to leave the series, but it's not a bad note on which to exit.  

BatWatch Review: Batwoman #23 - Veins

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Veins

It was three issues ago that we learned the setup for the upcoming battle. Batwoman was blackmailed by the D.E.O. into turning on her namesake, Batman.  Her options were to bring Batman to justice or let her family suffer, and she chose to save her family and rat out the Bat. At the time, I expected the next issue to feature a battle between the two, but the creative team had other ideas. The next episode was a one shot following up Killer Croc's story from the Medusa arc. We then had an issue amounting to little more than planning as Batwoman and Maggie Sawyer gained intel from Bruce's enemies. Finally, we come to the present issue, and I was really wondering what J.H. Williams and Haden Blackman had in store for us.  

Scarecrow toxin seems to be the name of the game. Kate wants a clear head and a clear conscience before she puts it all on the line for her family, so she will inject herself with Scarecrow toxin just as she did to Maggie. Now Kate will be able to face down her demons and make penance for her earlier crimes, but her timing is suspect with the battle against Batman being just around the corner. 

Does Batwoman's use of the fear toxin prove to be a move of strategic brilliance or are we witnessing Kate Kane's Waterloo?  

In this issue, Hawkfire and the Kane crew kidnap a D.E.O. agent while Kate injects herself with fear toxin to exorcise her demons.  

Stop with the Head Trips

If I wasn't already swamped with things I need to do, I'd spend time going back through the past year's Batman comics just to count the amount of crazy head trips our heroes have experienced. I'm not sure what the final tally would be, but I know it's at least half a dozen. Whatever the amount, I'm tired of it. I want to see no more psychic prying, no more bad dreams, and no more toxins. When I realized that this issue was going to take us down another broken road of shattered thoughts, I was inwardly groaning and fearful of what this issue might hold. Thankfully, the creative team managed to reward me trust in them once more.

Right after Kate injects herself, we get four pages of crazy images as Kate experiences her worst nightmares. I don't know if they revealed anything to Kate, but they certainly did not reveal anything to me other than that Kate apparently fears Alice killing Bones. Other than that, it was tame from a plot viewpoint. Visually, it would have been cool if I had not become used to that sort of thing.  

Thankfully, it ends after the four pages, and we are not exposed to any more of it. That's the way to do it people. Fear toxin is not new. We get it. Show a little bit and then move on unless you have something more than, "I'm scared" to explore with it.  

My only problem with all this is that the timing sucked. Kate did this less than 24 hours before one of the biggest ops in her life? I don't care if she had prepped everything; I care about her physical well being. If it were me, I would be trying to get a good night's sleep before such a maneuver. The last thing I would want it to be dealing with emotional and physical exhaustion if I were getting ready to face Batman. 

The Approaching Storm

The rest of the issue is the usual excellence from Batwoman. Whereas the previous arc felt steeped in the mystic and supernatural at every turn, this one feels more akin to a political/military thriller with secret missions, backroom deals and classified ops. We see Hawkfire capture Agent Asaf, and thought this is cool in and of itself, the really fun part comes when we see how the Kane clan wrings the information they need out of him. I have to say it went a long way in reshaping how I view Bette.  

Most of the rest of the issue is simply seeing all the pieces of the plan being put in place. Kate is approaching it in exactly the right way from what I can see; it's going to be a wild ride when this storm finally hits shore. 

(Spoilers until Conclusion)  

I'm having a difficult time deciding whether the events of this issue have truly built up Kate and Maggie's relationship. I mean, it certainly looks like they found emotional resolution with the resentment about Kate's bad decisions and lies being out in the open and Kate doing penance for some of those wrongs, but at the same time, is that really a healthy relationship? I mean, it was all about forgiveness in the end with Maggie letting Kate know she was forgiven for her mistakes, but shouldn't Maggie have already made that clear? It's almost as if Kate accidentally shot Maggie in the arm with a nail gun and then rather than apologizing and finding she had forgiveness from Kate felt like she had to shoot herself in the arm with a nail gun to make up for her mistake. It's not really a healthy relationship, and though Maggie's proclamation that she would be willing to forgive just about anything sounds good, it kind of disturbs me that Kate had to go through half a day of torture before Maggie was willing to offer forgiveness.

Conclusion 9/10

It's another great issue of Batwoman which provides great visuals and plenty of food for thought.

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BatWatch Review: Batwoman #22

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Hits

Batwoman has been a thrilling ride thus far, and we now sit on the precipice of what might be the greatest set of twists and turns yet. Soon, we will see Batwoman versus Batman. I do not suppose it is a novel concept; many characters have earned their stripes and proved their worth by going up against the Dark Knight, but we rarely see one of his own truly turn against him, and whereas Batman knows every trick that his proteges might ever try, Kate Kane was never truly an acolyte of the Bat. She serves the cause and not the man and that distance coupled with the support of her family might just make the difference in giving Kate the victory in the upcoming battle.

On the other hand if she truly intends to sacrifice Batman for the safety of her family, then she has betrayed the cause of Batman as well as the hero. Doing evil for the sake of good rarely works out well, and Batwoman will never shake her overlords at the D.E.O. by showing them they have complete power over her. I suspect Kate will deviate from the plan and save Batman in the end, but this series has kept me guessing, so it is impossible to be sure of how things will develop. Even if Kate does follow the expected path and prove herself free of corruption, there are still many questions lingering. What would be the fallout for her family? Can Beth be rescued? Will this feeble bond between the Kane clan hold together long enough to prevent disaster? Are Batwoman's combat skills a match for Batman's? Is Mr. Bones really Kate's brother? Questions abound and it is time for answers.

Does Batwoman #22 continue to be a thrilling roller coaster or has this book gone off the rails? 

In this issue, Batwoman and Hawkfire take on Bane while Maggie interviews the inmates of Arkham.

Grr, Argh! 

Ninety percent of this issue was great as per usual, but there was one thing that just irritated me, and I'm going to have to pick it apart.  

My problem is with the way Bane was handled. 

Before I get into it, let me first apologize for revealing that Bane is even in this issue. When I turned the page and saw him, I mentally did a "Whaaaat?" Bane is a big name villain, and usually a villain of this caliber would be solicited or held for the end of issue as a reveal. Kudos to the creative team for keeping things under wraps. I would like to save the surprise for those of you who have not yet read the issue, but since I'll probably spend most of the review complaining about this one aspect, I cannot justify avoiding it. Also, it was on the fourth page, so it is not as if this is a huge spoiler.

Regarding Bane's handling, I just did not like that he was beaten so easily. This is the man that broke the Bat, and though he has not since done anything else that impressive to add to his resume, that is a powerful factor alone. Batwoman is a great hand-to-hand combatant. Firehawk also seems to be coming along, but even so, I don't buy that the two of them would be able to take down Bane.  

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Bane is supposed to be an excellent fighter close in skill level to Batman, but he did not last ninety seconds in this scene. Kate and Bette bested him with three blows and a magic doohickey. Now, I cannot, as much as I would like, complain about the plausibility of this. The blows were solid, and they did not drop Bane but rather staggered him for a second which is all that was needed for Kate to make her move. Also, the ladies knew who they were facing, so it makes sense that they would have a game plan and tech ready for the operation.  

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Still, I object to the spirit of the thing. If Bane is one of the greatest Bat villains, he should really put up a better fight from an editorial standpoint. To make him a villain who took no more effort to drop than Mr. Freeze and make him of so little importance that the D.E.O. is willing to play catch and release really lowers his stock as a villain. 

I have one other minor gripe. Though it certainly makes sense for Batwoman to be prepared, where did she fit that very long and moderately thick cable? (That's what she said)

Bat Droppings

1. Other than my one overblown gripe, I thought things were great as usual. The pacing seemed just right setting up for what I am guessing will be the very beginning of the conflict between Kate and Bruce in the next issue while giving us lots to enjoy.

2. Shouldn't the Bat and the Hawk get some winter camo costumes? Bane did.

3. I like the concept of Maggie interviewing Arkham inmates for info on the Bat, but why go to the small time crowd? Perhaps these were just a few of the many she interviewed. It was interesting to see these characters drudged up even if they served more as comical relief than insight. 

(Spoilers until Conclusion) 

4. The colorist made Jack Kane's hair the wrong color in the panel where he hit Bette.

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5. Getting to know Jack's crew and seeing their perspective on Bette was a really cool touch though it does worry me that we might just be getting a little background on them so we will feel bad when they are killed off in the next few issues.

Conclusion 8/10

The Bane scene really bugged me just from a "keep up the legend of the character" perspective, but ignoring that, this issue delivered everything I love about Batwoman. Anybody who has been following the series should go ahead and pick up this issue.

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BatWatch Review: Batwoman #21

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Interlude III

Batwoman has been a consistently good time every issue, so I'm hoping for great things here. The preview showed that this issue was focused on Killer Croc, and at least in the preview, it looked pretty great as Croc had been taken in by the late Abbot's cult, the true believers of the Religion of Crime. How will Croc and company tie in to Kate's forthcoming take down of Batman? I don't know, but I'm eager to find out.

Is Batwoman #21 a killer good time or a scaly, smelly, disgusting, repugnant monster of a story.

In this issue, Killer Croc is offered leadership of Abbot's old crew if he can kill the Batwoman.

Just a quick reminder, I'm doing super short reviews since I have to start packing for a move.

Killer Instinct

I'm always of two minds on Batwoman's interim issues. It seems that at least once every four issues, the regular story is interrupted to bring a tangent tale usually focused on a supporting character. On one hand, it's pretty annoying that the main story is delayed. On the other, these supporting character stories are almost always so darn good that I just can't stay mad at them. This is yet another example of a first rate side story, and this one focuses on Killer Croc.

If anybody was excited about the upcoming Villains' Month title starting Killer Croc, you may as well buy this issue too because it's very good and it has little to do with Batwoman's ongoing story. It can easily be read as its own thing. I do hope the new details of Croc's history revealed in this issue have been revealed to Seeley so he can create one coherent version of Killer Croc like he has stated is his intention with the Villains' Month title because this will create some new wrinkles to the character.

I've never been a huge Croc fan, and though I would not say this issue makes me a big fan, it does make me feel like Croc is a respectable villain. The voice they used for Croc was perfect. Aware but not clever. Brutal but not scheming. Capable yet irresponsible. It was a good blend.

There is a problem in that the reason for Abbot's group's betrayal is not really given. I know there is some weird prophecy and they are a weird cult, but I don't know the specifics, and with Abbot's team going from fighting by Batwoman's side to trying to have her killed, the issue really could have used a line or two of explanation.

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The art by Franco Francavilla (former artist for Dynamite's Zorro and current writer and artist for Dark Horse's No Way Out, artist for Hawkeye and cover artist for Red She-Hulk and Dynamite's The Shadow, The Liverpool Demon and The Spyder) is not my favorite in any way, but it might be yours. It's not bad, but it's a bit too rough for my aesthetic sensibilities. Still, it is good and I respect it, it's just not my ideal.

Conclusion 9/10

Batwoman is almost always a great time, and this issue does not break this trend. If you are a Killer Croc or Batwoman fan, this is a must read. Also, if you've been looking for a good jumping on point for this series, this would work well for you.

BatWatch Review: Batwoman #20

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Cells

I want to be excited about this issue, but I'm kind of meh on it. My fear is that it is going to be another long narrative issue with no big surprises. Previews make it look like Agent Chase will be taking center stage for at least the beginning of the book, and though I'm not necessarily against long side character developments, I'm really in the mood to see some solid action from Kate since we did not see much from her last issue.

Does Batwoman #20 deliver a nice fix of action or is this just another exposition issue?

In this issue, Batwoman finds out how Agent Chase rescued Alice.

How Far Can Family Melodrama Be Stretched?

How far? I'm not sure, but it's got to be getting close the breaking point by now. At this point, Kate has so many family entanglements complicating her crime fighting that it's a miracle she can get anything done. I actually think a strong supporting cast is essential for a good story, and all of the element that the Kane family and Maggie have added to Kate's life have been positive factors in terms of making the story more intriguing, but the story feels like it is about to collapse under the weight of its own soap opera style revelations and convoluted storytelling. If this is where the twists and turns stop for awhile, then I'm okay with it, but if anything else is added to the mix of craziness, I think it might make this whole situation seem ludicrous. There was a plan and a union formed among the warring family forces at the end of this issue. I just hope this holds for a little while, or this series might turn into the, “Who will get stabbed in the back next?” show.

Also, I'm worried about Kate and Maggie's relationship. I would have thought this would get immediate attention after the proposal, but instead of establishing the new norm or the aftermath of the proposal, the writers have moved the story past the immediate shakeout of the proposal and landed us in the middle of what feels like a very strained relationship to me. My original concern was that Kate and Maggie were already on strained terms before the revelation that Kate is Batwoman and the proposal; the idea of marriage fixing their previously existing problems is silly. Then, it seemed to develop another crack in this issue.

(Spoilers) I would be interested in hearing anybody else's take on this situation, but I thought Maggie handled the family crisis very poorly. First up, I don't think there is ever an occasion to ambush somebody with a family intervention before talking to them about a problem one on one, and this is especially true if you are someone's significant other. Furthermore, you never threaten to kick someone out if they do not do what you want. That's extremely manipulative! I guess it's possible that the writers don't see these as major relationship problems, but I think it is more likely that they are going to let the relationship between Kate and Mags continue to fracture until it gets to a breaking point, and then, the story will have to deal with it.

Agent Chase

As I suspected, Chase did indeed get quite a bit of story time in this issue though she only took half rather than the whole thing, thankfully. At the same time, I'm not sure what exactly we learned about her. I suppose her jadedness is more easily understandable, but I still find it peculiar that she is so obsessed with Batwoman. Perhaps that is made more clear in one of the few issues of Batwoman I've missed or the earlier pre-Flashpoint Detective issues.

I'm wondering if this extended Flashback was meant to serve as seeds for things to come. There is a sarcophagus which appears to have been dropped straight out of the Stargate universe, and the origin and function of that could easily lead to future stories. We also learn about the Scarecrow sedating toxin which appears as if it will play a major role in future issues. I suppose this section also served as a nice conclusion to those wondering about the Religion of Crime. Still it seems like this could have been established with a few less pages.

The Deal with the Devil (Spoilers)

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Batwoman agrees to take out Batman in exchange for the freedom of her family. We've seen many versions of this story before, but it often works well. However, it's a delicate balance to make the actions of the betrayer, Batwoman, seem justified. I'm not sure if Kate's betrayal of Batman really tracks. Kate knows full well the the DEO will use this information to control Batman, and that could be very dangerous indeed. As far as I am concerned, the DEO is darn near evil, and giving them anymore power is not something I would want on my conscience. Also, Kate is just taking the DEO's word for it that they will let her and her family go. What would the DEO stand to gain from giving up a resource. My impression of them is that they will use any agent until they are dried up and dead.

Of course, there is a good chance Kate will not actually go through with the betrayal. She could be scheming up a plan already, or she might have a change of heart somewhere down the line. Considering that she needs to remain a hero, it seems likely she will probably have a change of heart before Bruce is caught and turned over to the DEO.

Then there is the whole matter of whether or not Batwoman could take down Bruce. It seems to me that with prep and the aid of Hawkfire, Jack Kane and the DEO, Kate stands a very good chance.

Conclusion 8/10

I'm getting a little itchy for this story to get rolling again. The last two issues have meandered a tiny bit, but there is nothing really wrong with this issue. I just want to see Kate get out in the field and kick some tail again. Still, all fans of Batwoman will get their money's worth with this issue.

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Review: Batwoman #19

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This Blood Is Thick

I'm not really in the mood for much of a preamble on this one. Batwoman has been exceptionally good with never a bad issue, and I love good comics, so I don't really want to waste time babbling about what might be coming; I just want to read it. However, I will restrain myself to speak briefly about how excited I am.

I was nervous about the series losing J.H. Williams III (former artist for Promethea, Detective Comics, artist for Batwoman, writer for Legends of the Dark Knight and cover artist for Titans and current writer for Batwoman) on the art because his work is so phenomenal, but I've got to give major props to artist Trevor McCarthy (former penciler for Nightwing and Batwoman and cover artist for Birds of Prey and current artist for Batwoman) for his work because, though I still feel Williams absence, it's a big comfort knowing that I'm not losing a great artist for a bad artist but rather I'm losing a great artist for another great artist who just is not quite as accomplished yet as Williams III. (I hope that came off as a compliment, Trevor. It was meant as one) The current arc has not disappointed continuing to bring more supernatural goodness, mystery, intrigue, awesome fight scenes, and a smattering of personal drama while adding a brewing conflict between Batwoman, Hawkfire, Batman, The DEO, and Mr. Kane. Even that is not touching the resurrection of Alice and the revelation of Mr. Bones' relation to Kate, and both these secrets seemed primed for revelation based on the cover of this issue. I cannot be sure this issue will deliver on everything I hope, but it's certainly poised on the edge of greatness.

Does Batwoman #19 leap off that edge of greatness and swing across the rooftops of Gotham, or has the narrative cable for this story been stretched too thin and do we find Kate Kane's crumpled body at the bottom of Gotham's Gothic chasms?

Taking Form from the Shadows

It appears that this arc is beginning to take form. I think I have the basic idea of what the main points of conflicts will be now, and I'll elaborate on that here in a minute.

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Whereas I said the last issue would be a great jumping on point for somebody wanting to give this series a try, I have to say the exact opposite of this issue because it is nothing but plot development from previous plot points. I love it when books have a good sense of their history and identity, and Batwoman seems more involved in continuity navel gazing than most perhaps due to the fact that she seems to be the only character not to have her history wiped out via the Flashpoint reboot. However, I do wonder if this issue could have been a little more friendly to new readers because even I, as someone fairly experienced with the Bat verse, had to scrunch up my face as I tried to remember some of the aforementioned plot points in this issue.

This issue also lacked a narrative punch because it both begins and ends on fairly weak moments in comparison to the average comic fair. It starts by revealing the identity of the mysterious figure rising out of the ocean to meet Agent Chase that was shown at the ending of Batwoman #18, but instead of this being a new supernatural player as I thought, it is simply Agent Chase's sister who had been surfing and was coming out of the water and onto the beach. The issue ends on a similarly anticlimactic note which is nothing more than Kate discovering something that readers already knew. Compared to the standard big action piece at the beginning and big reveal at the end format that most comics follow, this issue feels much more subdued.

This is not necessarily a fault of the comic as much as it is a limit of the comic book medium. After all, both the revelation at the end and the conversation at the beginning play an important role in story, but it simply doesn't hit the typical rise and fall of the average comic which provides the eagerness to read the next issue. In some ways, I respect Batwoman's creative team for breaking away from that typical format and thinking outside the box, and I'm sure this pacing will work well for the inevitable trade, but as a standalone issue, it does not work quite as well.

Impatience Is Not a Virtue

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Perhaps I'm being impatient, but I can't believe that this series has gone two issues since Kate's proposal to Maggie without disclosing anything about the immediate exchange after Kate's proposal. Kate had just revealed her identity as Batwoman and proposed marriage, and Kate and mags had been on the rocks before this. Surely, there must be a massive discussion that went down after Kate's huge revelation. Though we know they are now engaged, I'm really annoyed that we still have not seen that discussion. All I'm saying is that the conversation better be coming because the writing has been far too clever to just sweep a massive issue like, “You've been lying to me about being a masked vigilante, and though I now know the truth, the truth is that you put your life on the line each night by working for a semi-legitimate government organization which has used extortion to make you their black ops tool, and technically, I should immediately report this because I a law abiding citizen and I am also a police officer, and you are clearly violating a crap ton of laws.” I'm just saying.

Things do seem a bit tense between Kate and Maggie though, so maybe this conversation is still brewing.

Conflicted (Spoilers)

It appears the DEO is going to ask Kate to infiltrate Batman, Incorporated. At the same time, it appears Chase is going to flip loyalties, so in the end, I suspect that Mr. Bones will become the ultimate villain of this arc.

Bat Droppings

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1. I know Agent Chase had some significant history in the DCU, but I've not looked into it. Her grudge against capes makes sense from what little was shown, and I'm interested in seeing it explored more clearly, but if this ties into previous continuity, I would not mind in the slightest if someone dropped me a line and explained.

2. Agent Asaf is kind of conspicuous in just being an extraneous character. I'm wondering what Williams has in mind for him.

3. The art continues to be high quality. The panels that Kate annotated for Hawkfire was especially clever.

4. What the deal with Mags child? Has this ever been explained? Forgive me if I missed it or forgot. Where is this daughter? According to one online source I found, she lives with her father in Star City, but it is kind of odd how she is often referenced but never seen.

Conclusion 8/10

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This was not quite the thrill ride I had hoped from this issue, but it was still good. Basically, it did some necessary legwork to connect point A to point B, and I suspect the next issue will be much more full in terms of action and drama. I did enjoy this issue, and I recommend it for anybody who likes Batwoman and has been following her story, but I do wish the creative team had thrown in some new revelations for us to chew on in this instead of just resolving some of the fallout from the last issue and building the framework for the next issue's adventures.

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Review: Batwoman #18

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Secrets

Yay, it's Batwoman time. Batwoman has been one of my favorite series of the DCNU. It might even be my very favorite of the bunch. Many things make this issue special since there was a triple surprise at the end of the last issue. The least among them was the revelation that Kate Kane's evil twin sister, Alice, is coming back into play. The most important revelation in the minds of the average Joe is probably Kate revealing her identity and then proposing to her girlfriend, Maggie Sawyer, but I have to say I was even more shocked by the news that Mr. Bones is, if his words are to be trusted, Kate's brother. Granted, this is all a bit soap opera, but I don't care because it's awesome. Will Maggie accept? Is Mr. Bones telling the truth? will Alice come to her senses? I must know!

Also noteworthy, J.H. Williams III (former artist for Promethea, Detective Comics, writer and artist for Batwoman, writer for Legends of the Dark Knight and cover artist for Titans) has stepped off art duties for the series indefinitely so that he can work on the new Sandman series, so we will have to see if artist Trevor McCarthy (former penciler for Nightwing and Batwoman and cover artist for Birds of Prey and current penciler for Batwoman) and Guy Major (former colorist for Robin and Red Robin and current colorist for Batwoman, The Savage Hawkman, and Stormwatch) can fill his massive shoes.

Enough build up, let's read this puppy! Does Batwoman #18 answer all our burning questions or does it leave us out in the cold?

In this issue, Batwoman and Hawkfire go after Mr. Freeze with Jack Kane and Cameron Chase backing them up over com.

The Unknown

There are a lot of unknowns in this issue. Perhaps the most interesting though it the four way relationship between the four main protagonists. It is not clear whether Batwoman knows that Hawkfire is working with Jack, but it does seem fairly clear that Jack and Hawkfire are unaware of Batwoman's involvement with the D.E.O. It's an odd dynamic which builds a lot of tension. However, both Batwoman and Hawkfire are clearly talking to someone else, so this should throw up a red flag to the other parties unless we assume that there is too much ambient noise for one side to hear the others. Also, there are a lot of actual names being thrown around in the room with a super villain, so that might be something they need to fix. Still, there is a really interesting dynamic between Batwoman and Hawkfire now, and though I don't see this dynamic remaining for a long period, it is quite exciting for the moment. Add Batman's involvement in this situation, and you have a lot of secrets being kept between theoretical allies.

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The next big unknown is in the department of Kate and Maggie. The two are indeed engaged, and I'm not going to spoiler over that announcement since I am apparently the only person on Earth who did not expect Maggie to accept the proposal. However, this issue seems to take place at least a couple of weeks after the events of the last issue as evidenced by the fact that Hawkfire and Batwoman have gone on several missions together, and we do not therefore see the immediate aftermath of Kate's proposal. I just cannot picture Maggie agreeing to marriage without some serious discussion first. I mean, the two were more or less on the rocks before the proposal, right? Am I misremembering? I am covering a lot of comics here, but I thought they had pretty much agreed to take a break in their relationship. Granted, part of their problem was due to Kate's deception over being Batwoman, but there are still some serious issues to be worked through. Is Maggie okay with Kate breaking the law on a regular basis seeing as she is an officer of the law? Also, recall that Maggie pulled a gun on a guy who tried to save his own kid just a few issues ago, so it's fair to assume she has some issues with vigilantes. Is Maggie okay with Kate having lied to her all this time? All I'm saying is that there are some serious issues here, and they better darn well be addressed at some point. However, Williams III and Blackman (current writer of Batwoman) have demonstrated a tendency to tell important narratives in flashback, so maybe that is how they will deal with this plot point as well.

The characters are another layer of mystery in this story. The nature of several characters is most definitely in question right now. Chase seems like a very morally gray character leaning towards the dark side of things whereas Mr. Bones seems to be getting progressively worse in every issue, yet I find it hard to believe he will be a clear cut bad guy. There is also another party introduced (sorta) in this issue whose allegiance and identity are a mystery. Trying to figure out the shape of things in Batwoman is like trying to make out objects in a sea of fog, but I love it!

The M Squad

McCarthy and Major do an admirable job trying to step into Williams III's shoes. McCarthy mimics William III's page layout by placing panels in unpredictable places, blending panels together, and garnishing the space in between panel walls with various thematic symbols and imagery. This is a mixed blessing. In one respect, it is nice that he keeps the same visual feel for the book. It would be easy to do a more traditional panel layout, and I admire McCarthy's ambition and skill at doing this less traditional approach. The only problem is that it reminds me of Williams III who has perfected, in my opinion, the untraditional style, and it kind of makes me miss him. At first, I thought that McCarthy's pencils would constantly remind me of what I was missing, but I actually came to accept and like it pretty quickly. I especially liked the pages which used Batwoman and Batman's symbols as a centerpieces.

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Major also does a great job though once more I felt Williams III's absence. Whereas Williams III's colors always seemed perfectly blended with the images, Major's work feels much more traditional, but traditional does not equal bad, and Major does throw in some neat little tricks along the way. For instance, the first page features a close up on Freeze in simple black and white. I have no idea what this is supposed to signify, but it looks cool, so who cares? The last page is also a standout piece with a beautiful pink sky and haze and glare effects that set the scene perfectly. On the other hand, the whole first half of the book is dealing with Freeze, and the same pale blue color can be found in nearly every panel. It's not bad, but I just tend to think J.H. Williams III would have thrown something completely unexpected into the mix.

I would probably be going out of my way to praise these guys if they were taking over for any other artist, and this is meant as mostly a praise, but it is just difficult because I have fallen in love with Williams III, and I apparently want to have his babies, so nobody seems to quite stack up to him in my eyes.

Bat Droppings

1. I assume the title of this arc, The Blood Is Thick, will tie in to the old saying, “Blood is thicker than water,” which is appropriate considering the family issues taking place in this series. Heck, Mr. Freeze and Cameron Chase appear to be the only characters at play in this issue who are not family. That reminds me, does Batwoman know the identity of Batman? I do not think she does.

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2. I'm not sure what I think of Hawkfire's costume. As much as she was in this issue, there was not really a panel that showed a nice, full shot of her. I do think that the helmet looks like something out a B sci-fi movie.

3. I love the way Kate took down Freeze. In fact, I love it every time Kate gets especially brutal. Somebody should do a Batwoman's Greatest Hits list.

4. I noticed that Mr. Bones' ship was called The Serpent's Wake and he has a statue of two snakes coiled around an anchor. Were these snake references always around the ship? Regardless of whether they were or were not, what is their purpose? I looked in to the symbolism of snakes around an anchor and found it was a common design, but I could not find anything explaining the significance.

5. I liked how Jack Kane's wife handled her discovery. It's so much nicer than the typical media approach of making every conflict between a couple end in at least one party acting juvenile.

6. Obviously, Mags accepted Kate's proposal, but it certainly does not appear that she is overly happy while apartment shopping. Is something amiss?

Conclusion 9/10

Great fun as usual. This is a jumping on point, so anybody who has been contemplating giving Batwoman a try should do just that.

Review: Batwoman #17

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Mercy

It's taken nearly a year and a half to get here, but finally, the conclusion of the first arc of Batwoman is concluding. Batwoman has been a consistently great series, and I am very excited to see how things wrap up. I could belabor the introduction, but honestly, I just want to get to the reading. Does Batwoman deliver a great conclusion to this epic, or does the story fizzle out in the end?

In this issue, Batwoman, Wonder Woman, and Flamebird take on Medusa and her forces.

Huh.

Apparently, every comic this week is going to end up surprising me which is great because I love surprises. However, I'm not sure all the surprises in this issue were good.

My thoughts hit a variety of topics, so I think the best way to approach this review is simply to do it Bat Droppings style.

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Bat Droppings

1. Check out that cover. It looks amazing, and as J.H. Williams III mentioned in a statement on Twitter released earlier this week, the cover for this issue was a visual echo/homage to Williams III's own Batwoman #1 cover. In Batwoman #1, Kate is standing guarded and there is a murky water feel to the image with fish skeletons swimming in the background. In Batwoman #17, (the last issue Williams III will be doing for the foreseeable future) the theme has switched from water to fire with Batwoman standing triumphant over the scene as snake skeletons writhe over the foreground. It's a nice bookend for the series.

2. It practically goes without saying at this point, but Williams III's work is amazing.

3. “But reality doesn't tear apart at the seams like cloth. Reality gets disemboweled and has its intestines pulled out.” That's a nice line.

4. The Hook plays an important if brief role in this story, and I found myself wondering about his backstory. Unless I have forgotten it, he seems to be lacking one which is odd for a fairly major player in this arc. I'm not sure he needs one at this point, but if he returns, as it appears he will, The Hood needs and origin.

5. Flamebird's conflict with the Hook was satisfying, but the changing of her codename to Hawkfire seems rather arbitrary. Also, the majority of this issue was serious, yet her, “You got burned by Hawkfire,” line seemed almost quaint and juvenile. For me, it did not fit the tone of the story.

6. It was pretty cool to see The Hook's tendrils attach to another creature. I am intrigued.

7. The Hook scene transitions nicely to Maro reassembling herself and walking to the surface. I am confused to the relevance of this scene. If anybody understands what I am missing, can you help me out? Are we supposed to know why she is not dead?

8. Kyle Abbot dies in this issue, but that didn't do much for me emotionally. I know he was introduced and had a lot of development pre-Flashpoint, but I missed those issues, and since Batwoman started, he has not had much to showcase his personality, so...meh.

Everything past here is a Spoiler until the Conclusion

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9. The destruction of Medusa is one of the things that surprised and disappointed me. Using a mirror to make Medusa turn herself into stone is something that has been done many, many times in various stories. In those stories where a hero does not use this trick, they invariably use a mirror to find the location of Medusa and kill her. Both have become trite in my book, and if Batwoman had to use one of these tricks, I wish it would have been something a bit more elaborate or with some sort of more spin on the concept. All this buildup to have Medusa koed in a twenty second conflict makes her seem like a pushover. Seriously, this bums me.

10. Ceto's arrival and reaction very much surprised me. At first, I thought, “Oh, Medusa was a pansy because Ceto will be the real threat,” but then Ceto ended up seeking peace by all appearances. This was another change that struck me as questionable, but after considering, I like it. The idea that someone, even the mother of all monsters, can try to change is interesting as is the possibility that she might be lying. This sets up more potential, supernatural hijinks down the road, and I'm game.

11. Ceto is naked for many panels, yet I think this was handled very tastefully, and it appeared that Williams was doing his best not to be exploitative. I cannot imagine having a naked character on panel handled any less sexually without doing all face shots.

12. It was nice to see Kate once more be the voice of mercy to Diana. Batwoman and Wonder Woman have good chemistry. Time for a new Worlds' Finest comic with a little girl power? Again, I'm game.

13. Kate proposed to Maggie! Again, not something I expected and not necessarily a surprise I enjoy. This was way out of left field.

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14. I have several issues with this one. First, Maggie and Kate have not been getting along well, and if Kate has the idea that getting married will solve their problems, I think she has another thing coming. Second, secret identities are important people! Batwoman kissing the lady police officer is something that might be noteworthy to the kids watching it, and the fact that Maggie has a redheaded girlfriend (fiancée?) with military training might help someone make a connection when police start taking statements from kids and parents. Third, is gay marriage even legal? I don't really care much about the issue, but from my (very possibly wrong) understanding, gay marriage is legal in some states but illegal on a federal level, so I find it odd that people are often going through a legal process to do this illegal thing. Our country is just very weird these days. On the flip side, marriage is more about making a lifelong commitment, so I guess the spirit is still valid regardless of the legal issues.

15. Despite my reservations, I am intrigued on where this will go. Also, my biggest complaint is that Kate and Maggie are not in a healthy state right now, so committing to it is a bad idea, yet Kate has definitely demonstrated a self-destructive streak in the past, and she has some impulsive instincts, so the idea that Kate might be making an impulsive decision fresh from the heat of battle is not necessarily out of character. We might very well see this play out as the two characters getting in over their heads by rushing the relationship. Also, Maggie didn't actually say yes, so we do not even know for sure if they are engaged.

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16. Alice is coming back, but that's not a surprise to anybody. I'm hoping there will be some time before Alice becomes a big focus because Blackman and Williams III have promised that the next arc will be more grounded, Gotham based, and street level, and I'm looking forward to that. After this extremely long (if generally awesome) arc, I'm ready for something a tad more mundane.

17. It's not really a surprise that the DEO is involved with Alice either. It is kind of their business, and they have a vested stake in the Kane brood.

18. Mr. Bones says, “You have Our sister's eyes,” which I presume was meant to read, “You have Your sister's eyes, but if Mr. Bones is secretly Kate's brother, that would be a surprise.

Conclusion 9/10

After considering this issue for some time, I'm still pretty happy with it. The only thing that really annoys me is the typical and rushed conflict with Medusa, and I almost dropped the issue down to an eight because of it, but I'll be merciful because I have such a soft spot in my heart for Kate and there was a lot of great stuff to balance out that one bad call. If you've been enjoying Batwoman so far, you will enjoy this issue.

Nightwing #17

Red Hood and the Outlaws #17

Batwoman #17

Batman Beyond #18

The Dark Knight Returns Movie: Part 1 and Part 2

Batman: Death by Design

Review: Batwoman #16

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Serpent's Homeland

Yay! It's time for another issue of Batwoman. Nothing gets me so worked up as being able to see another adventure of my favorite heroine. As the Medusa saga sprints towards the finish line, everything has taken on epic proportions as Gotham is under siege from the creatures of nightmare. Last month's Interlude II story was an good respite from the main arch, but I'm more than eager to get back to Kate, Diana, and the fray of monsters. Do the creatures of nightmare make for a heavenly story, or does the whole tale end up in the fiery pits of Tartarus?

In this issue, Batwoman tries to rescue the children, Wonder Woman takes on the Hydra, Medusa tries to resurrect her mother, Cameron Chase has a brush with death, and Flamebird gets a rematch.

Heading for the Finish Line

You can definitely tell that this Batwoman arch is wrapping up as it starts to give some resolution to all its characters. Batwoman gets to confront the monster she has been tracking for months, Flamebirds gets a shot at redemption, and even Cameron Chase has to prove herself in the field rather than from the safety of her office. We finally get to see a little motivation behind Medusa's actions as we learn that she is trying to bring her mother back to life, and though I would not accuse the whole evil god banished by the good gods story of uniqueness, it is still satisfying and interesting.

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The flip side of entertaining so many subplots is that we do not really get much personal time with the World's Finest. After the hiatus last month, I was really eager to catch up with Batwoman and Wonder Woman, but Batwoman only graces about half the pages of this issue and Wonder Woman does not get a lot of screen time either earning only about a quarter of the pages. Thankfully, two of those Wonder Woman pages deal with an awesome Hydra fight, that I wish could have lasted longer. Possibly, it will continue in the next chapter. We do see a little bit of interaction between Kate and Diana as this dynamic duo play off each other as Kate nearly makes a stupid decision when her home is destroyed, but beyond that, the two heroines really do not have any interaction.

The art is amazing as always especially the fight with the Hydra. As much as I enjoy Williams III's work on this book, he has such amazing images that he would probably be able to put his talent to more use in a series more geared to fantasy, and I suppose that is exactly what he will do as he will leave Batwoman's art soon to focus on the Sandman prequel. Anyway, he is still amazing. The only thing that struck me as a little bit odd was that Kate's boobs seemed to be sticking out a bit much on some panels of pages 1 and page 4.

Bat Nitpicks

I had a couple of little nitpicks.

In the panels where Kate's base is destroyed, there is a giant redwood sized tree shown. Is that supposed to be symbolic or is there just a giant tree in Gotham? Has this played a role in some previous issue I missed?

I'm also not sure how I feel about Kate crying when her home was destroyed. I mean, I get that she was losing a lot of equipment and personal belongings, but Kate has usually done a pretty good job of blocking things out in battle. I'm not saying it is a bad characterization, but it did strike me as odd.

Conclusion 9/10

Though I am going to have to wait yet another month before I really see an adventure focused on Batwoman, this is still a very good issue. Pick it up and enjoy.

More Recent Reviews:

Nightwing #16

Catwoman #16

Red Hood and the Outlaws #16

Birds of Prey #16

Legends of the Dark Knight #34

Review: Batwoman #15

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Interlude II

Due to my computer crashing, I may or may not be able to attach pictures to this week's reviews. I'll get them up as soon as I can, but I will need to take time to wipe and rebuild my computer soon which might cause a brief interruption on BatWatch. Your patience is appreciated.

Time once again for my favorite Bat comic, Batwoman. The battle between Kate Kane and Medusa has been heating up for fifteen issues now, and it finally came to a boil in the last issue when all the creatures of nightmare attacked Gotham. Does this issue live up to the quality of Batwoman and deliver an awesome monster packed thrill ride, or has this series been consumed by darkness?

In this issue, we see the attack on Gotham through Maggie Sawyer’s eyes as she tries to keep order in Gotham.

What a Weird Issue

This issue was really odd.

First, there is no Batwoman in this Batwoman. You see her on two pages in this entire issue, and she doesn’t move that entire time. It’s very odd. Second, the amazing art of J.H. Williams III is missing. He does the two pages featuring Batwoman, but Maggie’s entire story is drawn with a different artist, Trevor McCarthy, who though talented does not compare nor mesh with Williams III’s style. I would have much preferred the entire issue be done by McCarthy rather than see the first page in Williams III’s gorgeous style only to be shocked into the grittier feel of McCarthy. Granted, this does work to give Maggie’s section a different feel, but having styles this dissimilar undermined the flow of the issue for me. Third, there are some odd narrative choices which rubbed me the wrong way.

Haters Gonna Hate

A large part of this issue deals with the idea of bondage which is pretty cool. Maggie was apparently abused by her Christian family for being a lesbian, and she was literally locked up by her father. Maggie then feels that the entire church is a place of suffering and bondage which is something she has to confront in this issue. The kidnapped children that have been missing in previous issues are in literal chains being escorted down the streets of Gotham for God knows what purpose. The parents of these children and Maggie Sawyer come at odds with each other for being bound by their duty and responsibility. In the end, Mags seems to realize that she is still bound by her anger and resentment. It’s a very rich issue thematically.

The only part that annoys me is the bit about the abusive Christian father. I grew up as a fundamentalist Christian, and most of my friends and immediate family are fundamentalist Christians. They all believe homosexuality is wrong, but none of them would even begin to contemplate the child abuse that Maggie endures in this issue. All of my friends and family take the stand that you should hate the sin but love the sinner. I know there are some Christians out there who are hateful and cruel to homosexuals, but these are the vast minority. On the other hand, a lot of extreme things happen in comic books which do not frequently happen in real life, and there is a Christian in this issue which is shown as possessing nearly a supernatural ability to forgive his enemy, so it seems that the author might have been trying to be evenhanded about things, but when the goodness of forgiving an enemy is weighed against the badness of locking up and torturing your daughter, I’m pretty sure the child abuse carries more weight.

Guns Are Evil!!!

I do not particularly want to get into this since this site is about Batman not politics, but I can’t help but address something which is so clearly present in this issue, the message that guns are bad.

If you have been following along with Batwoman, you know that children have been kidnapped by Medusa since Batwoman #1. Both Batwoman and the GCPD have been unable to retrieve any of the children, so when the parents see their children being taken through the city streets in chains, they assemble and prepare to lead an attack on Medusa’s forces to free their children.

Let’s pause and examine this. If you knew that your child or loved one was in danger and you had the power to help free them from evil people, would you try to save them? If you have the slightest amount of courage and moral fiber, of course you would. Second question, would you rather take on an army of villains with or without a gun? Anybody wanting to go up against a pack of murderers unarmed? Anybody?

Maggie Sawyer hears that this group it assembling, and she goes to stop them. I can understand that. It’s a dangerous situation, and she fears the citizens will get themselves hurt. Trying to talk them down is completely reasonable. However, Maggie draws a gun and points it at a citizen’s head when she finds out that one of them has brought a gun to help with the attempt to rescue their children. The parent does not point the gun at Maggie; Maggie draws first and aims at the parent, so we are saying that it is heroic to use lethal force to keep a parent from using a legal weapon to save the life of their child? What madness is this! The GCPD is being slaughtered. If they had citizens acting as heroes rather than as sheep, maybe they would stand a chance.

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The Indoctrination Thickens

As if threatening to kill someone for having a second amendment right was not bad enough, the story takes the “guns are bad” indoctrination even further. (Spoiler) It turns out one of the parents has already left to try to rescue his child, (the nerve!) and of course he is armed. Maggie tries to track him down fearing, quite reasonably, that he will be killed by Medusa’s forces. Sure enough, the guy doesn’t have the guts to pull the trigger, and he is about to be killed by Medusa’s henchmen when Maggie shows up and saves his life.

(Spoiler) All that is fine, but right after this, the parent turns the gun on Maggie for no reason whatsoever. Maggie just saved this guy’s life, and yet he is ready to kill her because….? It can’t be because Maggie was there to stop him because she never said anything about her intention. Oh wait, I remember. It must be because guns are imbued with an ancient demonic spirit which turns everybody who touches them into a homicidal maniac except of course for police officers who have a wiccan priestess cast a spell at cadets during graduation from police academy which magically makes them immune to the wicked influence of firearms and allows them to handle guns responsibly and use the power for good! I forgot about that.

I can get over Maggie wanting the parents to act like good little drones and take no action to save their children, and I can even accept Maggie drawing a gun on somebody who carries a licensed gun because despite the foolishness of such action, many people have been brainwashed by stories like these to think that guns are bad, so even if it is a bad action on Maggie’s part, it at least makes sense in the context of the story, but I cannot abide a character randomly being homicidal towards Maggie without any explanation. That is just bad writing made to fit a foolish ideology.

Conclusion 8/10

It is refreshing for a comic to have enough courage in the power of their story to spend an entire issue away from the title character just to develop part of the supporting cast. Despite the gun stupidity and the drop in artistic quality, this is still an issue well worth your purchase if you are a Batwoman fan.

Batwoman #14

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Heart of Stone

It is time once again for my favorite Bat book, Batwoman. Ever since the DCNU began over a year ago, Batwoman has been producing consistently excellent stories. Perhaps even more impressive, all the issues thus far have been one large story arc centering around Batwoman’s fight with Medusa. It appears everything is finally coming together and readers are nearing the end of this epic. The last issue left us with our heroic duo encountering Pegasus, the broken son of Medusa. Does this issue deliver a stunning tale, or is it merely a festering mess?

In this issue, Batwoman and Wonder Woman strike a deal with Pegasus, a mercy killing for information on Medusa.

The Anatomy of a God

In these sorts of team ups between an unpowered and powered heroine, it is difficult to make both characters seem equally relevant. Batman manages to stand next to Superman because Batman is nigh perfect, but other combos such as Huntress and Power Girl do not fair nearly as well with Huntress doing clean up while Power Girl actually saves the day.

Thankfully, Batwoman manages to hold her own with Wonder Woman by bringing her own set of skills to the table. This was made clear in the first few pages of Batwoman when Kate manages to use her forensic skills to deduce the nature of the beating given to Pegasus. Granted, these observations did not bring the duo any closer to Medusa, but it was refreshing to see that even when dealing in the realm of gods, Batwoman skills are still applicable.

In reality, Batwoman actually aided Diana more by working as a sort of moral conscience to Wonder Woman who agreed, perhaps too hastily, to end Pegasus’ life. I very much enjoy the chemistry between these two, and though I know Worlds’ Finest’s sales numbers make it an impossibility, I can’t help but wish Kate and Diana would bump Helena and Kara off their title to make room for a team that is actually well written.

It All Comes Back to Gotham

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After her brief adventures in globetrotting, Batwoman is returning to Gotham to fight Medusa. It does seem a little obvious that the center of Medusa’s operations would also be her location, but I suppose Batwoman would have no way of knowing that definitively without this little field trip.

As Medusa’s forces grow in this issue, it is a truly menacing sight. There is enough here to easily extend the story arc out for several more issues, and I am curious how much longer the arc will continue. One monster alone deserves an entire issue worth of conflict. It appears to me that Batwoman is shaping up for an epic showdown between the forces of good and evil in Gotham, and I look forward to it.

Medusa’s Fashion Flub

This is such a minor thing, but in books of this quality, it is difficult to find much to criticize. However, I have to say that Medusa’s look was not really working for me. I do not mind her physical design, but the white bra with gold lining on porcelain skin makes it look as if Medusa is going topless except for some gold low hanging pasties.

As for the rest of the artistic design of the issue, Williams III does an amazing job as always.

Conclusion 9/10

This series is great. Pick it up and enjoy.

Review: Batwoman #13

Transient

World's Finest

Though Snyder’s Batman certainly gives it a good run for its money, I do not think any Bat book in the DCNU has delivered consistently high quality stories as well as Batwoman. The field of paranormal warrior gives Batwoman a unique flair while J.H. Williams inks and layouts are staggeringly beautiful. Though the zero issue of Batwoman was yet another great story, it only meant that readers had to wait an extra month to see the promise at the end of Batwoman #12 come to fruition, the team-up between Batwoman and Wonder Woman. Will this team of World’s Finest have chemistry befitting the gods, or does the partnership prove to be merely mortal?

In this issue, Batwoman and Wonder Woman travel to a mythological prison in order to find information on the shadowy entity known only as Medusa. The duo soon find themselves in conflict with the goddess of night, Nyx.

Ever So Slight Disappointment

Though there are many great things about this issue, I find that two problems stick out to me. First, issue twelve ended with a great tease for what would come next when Batwoman simply showed up on the beach next to Wonder Woman. It was obvious these two would be teaming up in the next issue, but how would Kate explain her person and mission? How would Diana react? It seems as if this would be a great opportunity to see the chemistry between two heroines. After all, you can only show the original meeting between two characters once (ignoring reboots), so how would this situation play out?

The world may never know. This issue starts out with Batwoman and Diana heading for an underwater prison. The team up has already been forged, and the characters are past their initial encounter. I can understand that the scene was scrapped to move more quickly to the action, but I cannot help but feel a little disappointed.

The second minor complaint is that the issue ended on a rather anti-climactic note. I will definitely be back next issue, but it will be because of the overall quality of the series and not because of any cliffhanger ending which urges me to read the next chapter. Compared to previous issues, that is a slight letdown.

Transient

The New Dynamic Duo?

The great thing about a team up is seeing two personalities bounce off each other. Oh sure, cooperative head kicking is fun too, but without great character interaction, it is all rather shallow.

Thankfully, the Batwoman/Wonder Woman team up does not disappoint. There is not much friction between the characters as often happens in such a mismatched pair, but they do compliment each others’ strengths nicely, and it is clear that they have very different ways of viewing the world. I especially liked Diana’s portrayal which seems befitting of an ambassador and princess in regards to her confidence and grace. Her inner monologue is full of references to Greek mythology which only make sense for someone who plays an important role in that mythological world. For Batwoman’s part, it was nice to see Kate’s unflappable persona be struck stupid for once in the presence of a living legend.

Art Divine

Once again, I must praise Williams III’s work. He has his customary page layouts which bleed into one another in a manner which simultaneously make the panels flow together yet remain coherent. In one two page spread, Williams III shows Batwoman and Wonder Woman searching through a prison labyrinth, and his style truly makes the journey seem confounding. As if that was not enough, a close scrutiny of the image reveals both symbols of Batwoman and Wonder Woman hidden in the shape of the walls. In a later scene, he shows a psychic attack from Nyx which nearly defies understanding, yet this is an excellent way to represent a non-visual attack through a visual medium.

Say It Ain’t So!

I’ve never had any illusions that Mr. Bones was a typical hero, but I had thought him to be a generally good guy up until this issue. It appears as if I need to revaluate my assessment because Mr. Invisible Skin seems quite comfortable with allowing Kate to die and replacing her with the young and inexperienced Flamebird. Granted, Mr. Bones is not plotting to kill Kate, but the callousness with which he speaks of her does not indicate a noble heart.

What is the world coming to when you cannot trust a cigar smoking skeleton in charge of a shadowy government spy and black ops organization?

Conclusion 9/10

Despite my minor disappointments, this is still another great issue of Batwoman. All Bat fans should pick it up.

Review: Batwoman #0

Interlude

When I first heard about the new Batwoman back during the 52 storyline, I was unimpressed. We have plenty of Bat people already jumping around Gotham. Why should we add another?

That has pretty much been my attitude ever since, and I did not follow Kate Kane’s adventures…until Batwoman #12. That issue completely blew me away, and I feel horrible that I have been missing these stories all this time. For this reason, I eagerly picked up Batwoman #0? Does the zero issue continue to uphold the high standard of Batwoman, or was Batwoman #12 merely a single good issue in a mostly bad series?

In this issue, Kate explains how she went from loving her father deeply to hating him with a passion. Throughout this tale, we see how father and daughter held together through the loss of Kate’s sister and mother. In later years, we witness Kate try to follow in her father’s footsteps only to be kicked out and turn to depression and self-destruction when she gets kicked out of West Pointe for being a lesbian. Kate slowly begins to turn her anger outward after seeing Batman in action, and she sets out on the road which will eventually make her Batwoman.

Artwork Is Still Topnotch

The artwork continues to be outstanding even if it was less detailed and expansive than in the last issue. It was perhaps less overtly impressive, but the artwork is still quite beautiful in its own way. Williams III’s more grandiose style would not have fit this issue anyway due to the more dense nature of the narrative and the dated feel that Williams wished to convey through his artwork. This is in no way meant as a criticism, but this issue does have a distinct visual flair when compared to the last issue. If anything, this should serve to heap more praise upon Williams III’s head for his work continues to be great even in this more subdued style.

The Story Hits the Heart

As someone who has gone through depression himself, I’ve developed a sensitivity and sympathy for those that struggle with the problem, and though I have never engaged in random hookups or substance abuse as does Kate in this issue, I can certainly commiserate with the desire to act in self-destructive ways in order to achieve a moment of emotional relief. We see the highs and lows of Kate Kane throughout this issue, and though it makes Batwoman a tad less respected in my eyes, it also makes her much more rounded as a character.

Daddy Issues

Daddy issues are a very common theme in comic books. Most heroes have dead parents, but those few who still have guardians among the land of the living frequently have evil parents or unsupportive parents. Consequently, I was very curious what evils Jake Kane had committed to incur the wrath of his daughter. Was Jake a bad guy or was Kate just being petty? Both options could potentially lead to good stories, but both are a little tired in the comic medium.

Thankfully, Batwoman does not fall into either trap of the mundane. Rather, Jake Kane’s only sin is not telling Kate that her sister is still alive. Clearly, there are a lot of potential good reasons for this, so we have a strained relationship without any real stupidity or bad intentions on either family member’s part. That intrigues me.

However, the whole Alice aspect of the comic was very confusing to me for I had never seen her previously. I’ve now caught up by reading her character history, but for new readers like me, the story is quite confusing and unsatisfying in this department. We have no idea what caused the conflict between Batwoman and Alice, and we have no idea what happened to Alice after she fell. I realize that her fate was never explicitly stated in the original story either, but at least you find out that the police drug the water for her and never found a body which leads readers to believe that she is still alive.

What Is the Deal with Stupid Plane Scenes?

The plane hijacking in The Dark Knight Rises was by far one of the coolest scenes in the movie. It was also physically impossible.

In that same vein, I am not sure how much strength would be required to hold on to a plane of the size of the one showed in Batwoman, but I’m willing to bet that it is probably humanly impossible. On the other hand, I have seen people move around on the wings small prop planes and crop dusters without too much difficulty, but still, the plane in Batwoman #0 was clearly designed to move at much higher speeds. I consider my incredulity stretched regarding this scene.

Batgirl Revisited

Batwoman crossed over to Batgirl #12 last month and cleaned Barbara Gordon’s clock. I wondered at the time how a relative amateur like Batwoman would be able to beat Batgirl so soundly, but after this issue, I have no doubt Kate’s victory was well deserved. Batwoman undergoes training which probably rivals that of Batman’s even though it was more focused on guerrilla warfare than hand-to-hand combat and detective work. Regardless, I withdraw my objection to the Batgirl fight scene.

Conclusion    9/10

I felt that Batwoman #12 was just a tiny bit weaker than the last issue due to the way it left new readers in the dark regarding Alice, but Batwoman is still by far one of the best Bat comics on the market today.

Batwoman #12

World's Finest Part 1: Blood Tides

I have heard great things about the new Batwoman series, but I have only read one other issue starring this second redheaded Bat Female. Though I enjoyed that issue and I've heard positive reviews, I have to admit that Kate Kane seemed like a redundant character to me, and I've never been particularly curious about her. Still, I read this book hoping for the best.

In this issue, Batwoman does battle with Bloody Mary and meets Wonder Woman.

So How Good Is Batwoman?

Wow! Just wow! This is by far the best comic I've read all month. I do not want to delve into the plot since it is all worth experiencing first hand, but this is an excellently well crafted comic no matter how you slice it. The artwork is beautiful; Many panels are pretty enough to deserve framing in and of themselves. The story does a great job of catching new readers up to the convoluted story without breaking the stride of the narrative. The balance between the action and Kate's personal life is perfect moving Kate forward as a hero and an individual. Wonder Woman is also handled excellently, and though the Wonder Woman plot line is mostly separate from Batwoman, there was no awkward jump from one story to the other.

Batwoman Redundant?

With such a plethora of Bat characters, the different members of the Bat Clan really need to specialize in order to have their own individual flairs. Though many Bat books are failing in this regard, Batwoman does not. I was happy to learn that Kate works for the DEO, a government organization focused on taking care of supernatural problems. I also enjoyed learning that Batwoman was a former soldier who attended West Point, and it was extremely refreshing to see her actually use a firearm in combat. All together, any thoughts I had about Batwoman being a redundant character have been blown out of the water.

Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary

As someone who grew up hearing the story about Bloody Mary and even tried the Bloody Mary trick myself, this villain really hit home with me. Furthermore, Bloody Mary was down right creepy on her own. I want to elaborate, but I do not want to ruin anything.

Conclusion 10/10

I wait with baited breath for the next issue. Yes, it is that good.