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Thursday, December 15, 2011

DAMN Good Comics -- BATWOMAN #4

If there were any remaining doubts that the current Batwoman creative team would be able to maintain the level of quality shown in issue one, I think we can officially put them to rest now.

In "Estuary," Part Four of the opening story arc "Hydrology," writer W. Haden Blackman and artist J.H. Williams III produce another stunning twenty pages that make you wish every comic was this good.  This issue grabs you right from the start, interspersing some tastefully graphic panels of Kate Kane and Maggie Sawyer making love to one another with the bold, colorful contrast of Kate's cousin Bette brashly taking on the Weeping Woman's Frankenstein-like minion Pajarito. 

Without going into too many specifics, Batwoman's fears about Bette's readiness to fight crime as Flamebird come to pass, putting the character's future in extreme jeopardy.  As a Flamebird fan, it's a little hard to reconcile this inexperienced "New 52" Bette with her Post-Crisis depiction as a former fangirl of the Dick Grayson Robin that eventually got her act together and became a serious superheroine capable of holding her own in dangerous fights.  However, Flamebird's fight with Pajarito does serve another purpose of bringing Department of Extranormal Operations Agent Cameron Chase considerably closer to her goal of capturing Batwoman.

As always though, the big draw for Batwoman readers is J.H. Williams' incredible art.  In addition to the opening sequence mentioned above, Williams treats us to another stylish depiction of the story arc titles, framing them in a blood-themed font around a phoenix-shaped image of snow-covered ground surrounding Bette.  Another memorable double-page spread uses the folds of Batwoman's cape as panel dividers, while the last page uses smoke from DEO Director Bones' cigar to create a middle panel image of Bones and Chase's target, Kate Kane.  No nice and tidy nine-panel Watchmen grids here, that's for sure.

The Weeping Woman remains a vague, ghostly menace but we get more of her background this issue as Batwoman engages in actual detective work rarely seen in recent Batman titles.  However, we now have her connection to the apparent flesh-and-blood Pajarito to explore, and with the number of questions surrounding Bette and the DEO, this book shouldn't be short of material to cover.  Let's see how "Hydrology" wraps up next month...

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