Dear J. H. Williams III, I love you.
Er, rather, I mean I love your artwork. Honestly, what is the point of doing a review for a comic book that is damn near picture perfect? J.H. Williams III makes this book everything it can possibly be, until you check the credits to make sure that Greg Rucka is, indeed, the writer of this four-color masterpiece. After finishing this book, I put it aside, eager to spend more time just to stare at the art and look for new things, like the bat-silhouette frames. This is how a comic makes me feel like I'm getting my money's worth.
Coming into this story completely cold, I had no problem picking up, settling in, and understanding what was happening. Batwoman may not be my favorite character, but this creative team is certainly darn near the best of the best. I'd read their work on "Johnny the Poop King" if such a book existed.
Enough about me, let's get back to this issue. We get the first glimpse into the events that shaped Kate Kane into the woman she is today. In telling this story to us, Rucka frames the now with glimpses of the past. Williams steps up and makes the past a completely different visual spectacle from the story set in present day. Paced and set up more like a "traditional" comic, the past sequence gives Williams a chance to flex his creative muscles by drawing in a style achingly reminiscent of Darwyn Cooke's work. His work on the present day part of the story is the über-detailed hyper-creative work you've come to expect from Williams. Merged together -- almost through magic -- this story is a wonder to behold. That wonder winds up being pretty darn important, as Kate's trust in her father hits a snag in the present while my heart just shatters for the Kate of the past.
Truly the icing on the cake for this issue, the Question story that's been running wraps up. One would think Hamner's art would seem out of place sharing staples with the imagery that Williams puts down, but Hamner's work is just as enticing, just in a different direction. Hamner is a comic artist, drawing great comic book action. Williams plays his story as a graphic designer, using some pretty slick design skills. Together both of these artists make this book shine.
Greg Rucka is the luckiest writer in comics today, to be blessed with the chance to work with two amazingly -– yet differently -– talented artists under one cover each and every issue. That's not to say Rucka mails it in. Far from it. He has made me care about these characters. I am an ardent Vic Sage Question fan in the way there are Barry Allen Flash or Hal Jordan Green Lantern fans, but I am genuinely interested in what Rucka has to say with Renée Montoya. The fact that Rucka drove me to care about Kate Kane is even greater testimony to his ability as a writer who is most deserving of the talent he has with him on this book.
That said, you may have noticed a five-star rating here. I've given out a few, not many though. I feel this one deserves it. Five-stars, to me, are books that I will go back and read again because I remember the story was compelling or the art was great. Five-star books are books I would share with my friends or recommend to people who are looking for a comic. Five-star reviews are books that are filled with talent like J.H. Williams, Cully Hamner, Greg Rucka, Daves Stewart and McCaig, Jared K. Fletcher, and Todd Klein. This is a five-star book. Go. Read. Enjoy.