By: J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman (story), Trevor McCarthy (art), Guy Major (colors)

The Story: Kate Kane has it all—the good life, the love life, and definitely the night life.

The Review: I know I’m a bit late to the party in saying this, but I think it’s pretty amazing how naturally people have taken to this title as an ongoing series considering how its lead is an openly lesbian character living an openly lesbian life.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe this makes Batwoman the first mainstream comic of its kind, and beyond even that remarkable achievement, it’s impressive how few people have given it a second thought.

And why should they?  Certainly Kate and her supporting cast do not.  Perhaps the complete lack of discrimination shown in Kate’s world thus far seems a tad idyllic—fictionally so—but it also emphasizes that Kate’s sexuality is irrelevant to the demands of her story, except insofar it determines where her relationships with certain characters will proceed.  In many ways, this situation represents the way things might be, or ought to be, in the future.

Nothing better demonstrates this point than—spoiler alert—Sune and Batwoman’s growing attraction to each other.  It happens in the usual way: a significant glance, all-too familiar touching, some pregnant pauses (including a very amusing bit as Kate tries to pick a lock in Falchion’s bedroom under increasing distraction from her “partner”), and then a dramatic moment where tensions run so high that all sorts of little secrets must come out.  This is classic romantic treatment, subtly employed by William-Blackman.

Unfortunately for Sune, her timing is a bit off, as Kate has just begun a major offensive to spark things up back with Maggie.  In an interesting role reversal, Maggie’s obligations to justice force her to run out on a date, while Kate understandingly stays behind.  When she tells Maggie, “I know you’re committed to your job.  You never have to pretend that you’re not,” it feels very much like she’s saying out loud what she longs for herself.

All of this wouldn’t be possible, believe it or not, but for Chase’s involvement.  Her bossiness, which just so happens to coincide with improving Kate’s personal life, reminds me of a female Jack Donaghy (from 30 Rock).  With Kate in the position of a relationship-stunted Liz Lemon, Chase ordering her to drag Maggie to a party/infiltration mission is both funny and endearing: “And for God’s sake, dress like an actual rich socialite so you don’t draw attention to yourself.”  Or is it so Maggie realizes what a fine catch she’s made in Kate?  That is the question.

With all the controversy over Amy Reeder’s departure, McCarthy has much to prove if he’s meant to be her replacement.  I have to admit, when you see his art, you’ll understand why Reeder didn’t work out on this title.  Whereas she had a loose, flowing style which made Kate’s movements seem graceful but unconvincingly awkward, McCarthy’s tight lines and bold sense of posture almost perfectly conveys Kate’s swift, controlled attacks.  Reeder had an emotional freedom which made certain scenes almost soapy; McCarthy makes even the most expressive scenes more potent by showing how hard the characters try to contain themselves, like Colonel Kane breaking down as he watches Bette’s life pull away.

And overall, McCarthy simply apes Williams’ aesthetics better than Reeder, particularly in Kate’s “civilian” scenes and in his imaginative use of paneling.  I love his descending sequence of panels depicting Kate and Sune descending a flight of stairs in Falchion’s yacht, and I love how we zoom in on them as if from Maggie’s POV.  It pains me to say it, but McCarthy actually is a better fit for the title than Reeder, though I miss her covers greatly.

Conclusion: At this point, Batwoman’s vendetta against Medusa comes second to the personal drama happening among all the characters, but the creators keep you invested on both fronts.

Grade: B+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – I have to say, it’s too bad Sune goes the other way.  We don’t have too many attractive Asian women in comics, and seeing her undo her hair while sitting on an opulently decorated bed is…fascinating.  Let’s leave it at that before too much sharing happens.