By: J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman (writers), J.H. Williams III (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist)
The Story: Screw the Ghostbusters—Batwoman’s on the case!
The Review: Kate Kane as Batwoman faced a lot of scrutiny from the moment she came into existence, and although her sexual preferences were the most controversial, I think even if she’d been straight as an arrow, people would still look at her with a doubtful eye. Anyone who takes on “Bat” in their name is bound to have tough comparisons made on them, and since she presumes to hold herself as the female equal to Batman, she has even more to live up to.
So it’s been a great pleasure to see her doing just that. While her methods and attitude to the work have obvious differences, she’s shown just as much of a hyper-competence and willingness to do the most radical things to get the job done. You may have been wondering how she planned to grapple with the Weeping Woman; ghosts aren’t exactly within the Bat-family’s usual line of work, after all, not even with the Dark Knight himself. And it must be said, the spiritual tactic she uses to figure out what’s to be done, and her execution of it, is both surprising and brilliant, something Batman would do in his most esoteric, probably the best praise of all.
And like any great Bat-story, Batwoman’s confrontation with the Weeping Woman has just as much dramatic depth as it does action. What really makes the scene sing is how it shows Kate as both human and superhuman at the same time. If we can take the theory that every Batman rogue represents some different aspect of the hero’s character, and apply it to Batwoman, the Weeping Woman represents Kate’s grief and guilt over the loss of her sister. While she will probably always think of Beth with regret, Kate makes it clear she will no longer feel guilt over what happened, as it was not her fault. The Weeping Woman, however, can’t say the same.
I won’t spoil the sequence for you by describing the specifics, but I can say that in addition to showing Batwoman’s ability to be both unmoved and compassionate at the same time, we also get a name drop of her next mark, one the D.E.O. also want to take down. While Chase and Bones describe Medusa as a “criminal cartel,” that begs the question: what the heck kind of criminal cartel can summon demons to possess stray spirits and compel them to kidnap kids?
But if the two agents aren’t telling the whole truth to Kate, that’s really nothing new for the D.E.O. Though their offer to Kate seems to be in good faith, and we know Chase is telling the truth when she says she had nothing to do with Bette’s hospitalized condition (though she conveniently neglects to say what she did between finding Bette and sending her for treatment), we also know their true goal is to get at Batman. That said, Kate and Batman both know what the agency’s really after, though neither mentions how they’ll deal with it down the line.
For anyone at all in doubt of the hyperbole about Williams’ artistic abilities, that first page should put your doubts to rest. Actually, I think it’s a perfect example of what sets William apart from even great artists like Francis Manapul. To depict Kate’s meditative search for answers, Williams uses strings of small square panels in a very similar fashion to Manapul’s portrayal of speed-cognition in The Flash. Williams’ version, however, has a sense of order that gives it a logical rhythm in time with the text, and his use of the imagery underneath the panels grounds the disjointed pictures, giving you a sense of what she herself is experiencing as she meditates.
Conclusion: A remarkable arc in every way for Batwoman’s first time out solo, resting on her own laurels. This is easily one of the finest offerings DC has in its collection of titles, and absolutely deserves every bit of praise it’s been given.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – And the Award for Cleverest Burn goes to Kate Kane, when she tells Mr. Bones: “That’s the second time tonight someone who should be dead has said that name to me.”
– I freaking love that Mr. Bones is wearing a star-spangled tie.