It’s really difficult to talk critically about this book when it is just so flat out gorgeous from cover to cover. The art, even at a time when so much stunning comic book art is being done, is so above and beyond everything else that it’s difficult to focus on anything but the art.
In this issue Batwoman continues her hunt for the “Weeping Woman” who appears to be abducting children from the their homes (and elsewhere). Batwoman also continues to train her cousin Bette (the former Flamebird) to be her sidekick and weighs an offer from Batman to join Batman Inc. Elsewhere in the book, Kate goes on a date with Detective Sawyer (who is none too fond of Batwoman but quite fond of Kate); and Cameron Chase lets Detective Sawyer know that not only is she looking for Batwoman, but that Detective Sawyer is at the top of her list of possible Batwoman suspects.
Of all the great things that are going on in this book, the absolute best thing is that it is chock full of interesting complicated smart tough women. The embarrassment of riches of having Batwoman, Cameron Chase, Detective Sawyer, and Bette Kane all in the same book that also happens to be executed wonderfully almost makes one nervous. It feels just too good to be true. “Birds of Prey” is also off to a good start as a “strong book filled with great female characters”, but almost under the radar and to no fanfare whatsoever, “Batwoman” has pulled it off, effortlessly.
J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman have a good handle on the writing for this book. It’s not quite as strong as it was under Greg Rucka’s pen, but for the most part it works. There are small moments where certain voices don’t feel quite right (I wasn’t sold on Batman in this issue) but they’re still doing an excellent job overall. My one significant complaint with this issue is that it ends very abruptly and I couldn’t help but wonder if it suffered from the page cut changes that were instituted last January. It feels like a moment when Williams would do a spectacular double page spread, and instead it’s one small panel at the bottom of the page. It doesn’t feel like Williams style or pacing as we see it here. The abruptness keeps the ending from having the impact it should, but it’s a small issue in an otherwise wonderful book.
The art, well, I’m just not sure what else can be said that hasn’t been said already? Williams (with, let’s face it, brilliant assistance by Dave Stewart) is doing things with the comic book form that will be studied and imitated indefinitely. His anatomy and character work, his action and backgrounds, everything, is all so perfect that it’s as if he can only find ways to entertain himself by pushing the form. And push it he does, to exceptional heights. My favorite element of Williams “Batwoman” work has been his decidedly different techniques for Kane’s life as Batwoman and her life as Kate. It’s a simple decision really, but one that speaks volumes about Kate and Batwoman, without ever saying a word.
If you read comics and you’re not reading “Batwoman” I just don’t know what you’re doing and you should maybe consider giving up this whole “comics thing”. This book is breaking boundaries and being a hell of a good read while it does so. You just can’t ask for more than that.