Written By: JH Williams III & W. Haden Blackman Art By: JH Williams III Publisher: DC Comics Price: $2.99 Pages: 32
rating: 3.5First 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 youre 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 Ive praised the layout, you might presume Im going to start laying in to the story but thats 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 Batwomans alter ego Kate Kane, new readers are quickly given a rundown of Kates ethereal nature, her past romantic relationships and the tumultuous bond she shares with her military father. A great deal of Kates 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 Gothams shadowy recesses). There are plenty of hints that Kates 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 theyre 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 doesnt really have its own beginning, middle and end. Additionally, the issue does so much to stamp its own identity away from Batmans shadow that the only real disappointment of the story is when this titles distinct corner of Gotham is pulled into the bigger bat-picture in the issues 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 its 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 issues biggest star. With its solid plot foundations now laid, the real test will be how the second issue runs with them but theres more than enough elegance and excellence here to make it worth a look.