Comics Review: Batwoman #1

Overall, this issue states itself as ‘Part One of Five’ and concentrates on setting up multiple threads to leave the reader intrigued if not necessarily hooked.

Written By: JH Williams III & W. Haden Blackman Art By: JH Williams III Publisher: DC Comics Price: $2.99 Pages: 32

rating: 3.5

First off, the art work in this book is amazing. By taking on co-writing duties as well as the artwork, artist JH Williams III has surpassed himself with many incredible double-page spreads that are still easy and natural to navigate whether you€™re reading a physical or digital copy of this comic. The grace and flow of the action, the progression of the panels and depth and texture added by shadows and colours make this as haunting and otherworldly a piece of sequential art as can be €“ the kind of comic book work that proves the medium is not just a storyboard waiting to become a movie. Now I€™ve praised the layout, you might presume I€™m going to start laying in to the story but that€™s not quite the case, even if the narrative is not as strong as its constituent parts. The readers are swiftly introduced to a seemingly supernatural child thief €˜The Weeping Woman€™ that firmly sets the more chilling and wintry tone that separates Batwoman from all the other Bat-titles. As Batwoman€™s alter ego Kate Kane, new readers are quickly given a rundown of Kate€™s ethereal nature, her past romantic relationships and the tumultuous bond she shares with her military father. A great deal of Kate€™s characterisation comes through her unsteady relationship with her on/off sidekick Bette €“ better known as ex-Teen Titan €˜Flamebird€™ (but whose past heroic identity is far too bright for Gotham€™s shadowy recesses). There are plenty of hints that Kate€™s exasperation with Bette are in fact frustrations she has with herself, but these scenes often find their hands tied with exposition to create a maximum dramatic impact. And, although not overtly gratuitous in content, I think TWO scenes of two female superheroes getting in and out of their crime-fighting outfits might be a little extreme. In terms of clear character, better are the scenes with Det. Maggie Sawyer of the Gotham P.D, also on the trail of the disappearing children. Her practical attitude is warm and comforting amid the bleak horror of Gotham and when she confidently asks Kate out on a date, readers know they€™re in store for a different kind of alliance than Batman and Commissioner Gordon share. As someone who has only read one Batwoman story before this title puts across everything we might need to know for the future plot developments. The main flaw here is we are introduced to so many aspects of the world of Kate Kane that the issue doesn€™t really have its own beginning, middle and end. Additionally, the issue does so much to stamp its own identity away from Batman€™s shadow that the only real disappointment of the story is when this title€™s distinct corner of Gotham is pulled into the bigger bat-picture in the issue€™s final pages. Overall, this issue states itself as €˜Part One of Five€™ and concentrates on setting up multiple threads to leave the reader intrigued if not necessarily hooked. While the drama feels like it€™s warming up, stylistic moments such as Batwoman only being witnessed through narration/flashback until the very end really create a ghostly tone that is this issue€™s biggest star. With its solid plot foundations now laid, the real test will be how the second issue runs with them €“ but there€™s more than enough elegance and excellence here to make it worth a look.
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John Hunter hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.