This is a new reader-friendly introduction to Batwoman, as J.H. Williams prepares a new series to continue her adventures.
Batwoman has made a name for herself in many ways since her debut in “52” a few years back. A prominent, female, lesbian superhero was sure to garner attention, but it was Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III’s assured handling of Kate Kane’s character that kept her in the readers’ eye during their run on “Detective Comics.” Now J.H. Williams III is taking the character to her own series, with help from co-writer W. Haden Blackman and artists Amy Reeder and Richard Friend.
The story in “Batwoman” #0 is more a vignette, really. A 16 page, two-tiered (pretty much literally) look at Bruce Wayne evaluating Kate Kane’s Batwoman’s prowess as a crime fighter. It’s pretty straightforward and feels almost arbitrary. He unsurprisingly supports her endeavors and has little trouble figuring out her secret identity. For long time followers of the character, it’s a slightly pointless episode, but as a “0” issue, it certainly does its job of introducing her well.
J.H. Williams III’s art, in the other hand, is at its usual sterling best. He illustrates the “Batwoman” half of the story, which is basically Batman watching her beat up some dudes. There are plenty of his trademark stylistic variations, often several on a page, and his layouts are, as always, a marvel to look at. Dave Stewart also does a great job maintaining the integrity of Williams’ wash flourishes throughout.
If there’s a weak link in the proceedings, it isn’t necessarily co-artist Amy Reeder, but rather the mismatched inks of Richard Friend. Friend is a great inker when paired with the right penciler, but his style just doesn’t work well with Reeder’s art. It’s hard to tell if it’s in an editorial attempt to keep her fluid linework more in line with Williams’ more linear style or just simple incompatibility, but there’s one frame of Reeder’s pencils that is digitally inked, showing the lightness of her pencils that is a fantastic example of her work unrestrained. (It’s possible that this moment is all manipulated by Stewart’s color work too. Whichever it is, it’s a much better fit to Williams’ work, and a much better representation of Reeder’s potential as an alternating artist on this book.) As it stands, Reeder’s half of the book looks like fairly standard superhero comic art, when even just her variant cover for this book shows that she’s capable of being a lot more than that.
Overall, “Batwoman” #0 is a pretty slight book, almost half of it is previews for upcoming issues of the title and other Batman books. But new J.H. Williams III art is worth pretty much any price. It’s hard to tell if his take on the book and the character will be as compelling as Rucka’s was, but its clear that the most urgent problem the book needs to solve is finding the perfect inker for Amy Reeder so that every other storyline of the book is up to the other one’s high standards, art-wise.