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Saturday, September 17, 2011

DAMN Good Comics -- BATWOMAN #1

It's been a lonnnnnnng wait for Batwoman #1 since the DC Comics character's ongoing series was announced back in April of 2010, but I'm glad to report it was definitely worth it.

Ever since writer Greg Rucka left the character after the "Cutter" arc ended in Detective Comics #863, fans have been wondering if the Batwoman ongoing series would have the same depth of Rucka's stories.  Sure, the book would look fantastic -- and it does, believe me -- but Rucka gave Kate Kane considerable substance beyond being a "lipstick lesbian" version of Batman.

Although artist J.H. Williams III is listed as "co-writer" along with being artist, I'm guessing fellow "co-writer" W. Haden Blackman does the heavy lifting in Part One of the opening "Hydrology" story arc.  Picking right up from the ending to "Cutter," Kate begins the process of training her cousin Bette, better known to Titans fans as Flamebird.  Blackman maintains the hardened military edge Rucka gave so well to Kate, as she naturally puts Bette through Batwoman Boot Camp.  Kate tells Bette burn she's burned Bette's Flamebird costume, then gaves her a drab pair of grey coveralls as a training uniform and informs Bette she's only to be called Plebe until Kate tells her otherwise.  This is standard military training procedure of tearing new recruits down completely in order to build them back up again as soldiers and extremely consistent with Kate's character.

And yes, J.H. Williams III's artwork is just as gorgeous as you remember.  Williams is probably one of the Top Five artists working on mainstream titles right now and he certainly doesn't disappoint here.  From ethereal opening sequences to brutal fighting scenes, Williams elevates Batman-style storytelling to an entirely new level, making every page interesting and enhancing the story as he should.  In a clever two-page spread, Batwoman's use of her grappling hook takes the reader right across the page to the next and then a hissing skeletal spectre brings us right back to the previous page once again.  Incredible.

Newer readers may find some of recapping surrounding the scene with Kate's father a bit confusing, but Williams fills the pages with bold images that make you want to check out the Batwoman: Elegy collection to find out what happened.  Otherwise, new villain The Weeping Woman seems very intriguing so far and a new subplot involving Cameron Chase and the Department of Extranormal Operations is very welcome to fans who remember Williams' previous work on the short-lived series Chase.  And if that's not enough for this first issue, it ends with the cliffhanger of Batman telling Batwoman they need to talk about a proposition he has for her.

So Plebes...have you added Batwoman to your monthly pull yet?

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