The only thing wrong with BATWOMAN
#3 is that its publisher has the nerve to tell me that 20 pages of story is enough. (Seriously, DC -- fewer interviews and letters columns, more story. We have a letters column/interview repository called the Internet, and it’s awesome.)
Storytellers J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman continue to blast all kinds of amazing across these pages, with Kate Kane reeling from a page-one encounter with the ghostly Weeping Women that’s equally sinister, sensual, and soul-shattering. As the artwork flows across the page like the water in which Batwoman is submerged, we feel like we’re drowning right along with her as her layers of consciousness and conscience are peeled back to a core that’s all too familiar. Is she really that different from her sister? (Read the groundbreaking Elegy collected edition by Williams and Greg Rucka for the answer to that question.)
But Kate doesn’t have time to recover – as soon as she’s out of the water, she’s forced right into an action-packed escape from gun-toting Department of Extranormal Operations officers led by Batwoman-obsessed Cameron Chase.
So what’s a girl to do? Already estranged from the father she needs more than ever, she ruthlessly cuts another important tie in her life (even though her motives are love and protection) before letting down a wall that will undoubtedly cause all kinds of complications down the road.
This book is absolutely unstoppable – as much as I gripe about DC’s new “20 pages is all you get” nonsense which makes all of these books feel way too abrupt no matter how well they’re written, Williams and Blackman are effortlessly weaving massive amounts of character and story into these pages.
My favorite scene in the book happens when Cameron Chase harasses Colonel Kane about his kidnapping (again, see ELEGY) and drags Kate’s name through the mud for good measure. To play along and protect his daughter’s identity and mission, he tells Chase he’s not proud of his daughter and wishes she’d do something worthwhile with her life.
Let’s think about how much that has to hurt him. First of all, we know how proud he is of his daughter. We know how much he loves her. We also know how much he misses her and desperately wants to reconcile with her. How much he thinks her mission is worthwhile, and how much he misses being a part of it.
When Bruce Wayne makes a fool of his public persona to deflect attention away from Batman, he’s not really hurting anyone. But think how much it must hurt for the Colonel to talk trash about his daughter in order to protect her. That’s love. And it’s a fabulous bit of character drama, too.
And there’s also something awesome that Mister Bones says to Agent Chase about the Colonel; I’ll leave you to discover it for yourself, but it’s yet another example of how Williams and Blackman are looking at all the angles to create superb little details that make this story even better.
There’s great Kate stuff. Great Maggie Sawyer stuff (including a hilarious little moment she shares with a big, bald tattooed dude outside a concert venue). Great Bette Kane stuff. And of course the aforementioned scene with the Colonel, which simultaneously broke my heart and kicked my ass.
I don’t even know how to talk about the art in this book. The words and images live, breathe, and mingle in ways that are never less than breathtaking and intoxicating, with every element blending in organically – from Todd Klein’s letters to Dave Stewart’s colors that always have the right answer for all the different art styles Williams uses for different scenes and situations. Immerse yourself in it, study it, and you’ll find yourself mesmerized into falling in love with it.
This book operates on an almost supernatural level of storytelling -- sensual, surreal, and superb. – John Bierly