This is my review of the Elegy series (so far, anyway) that constitutes Batwoman in Detective comics. Bear in mind that I’m a complete comic neophyte, who is still very much learning about the art form, its history, and the expectations of its fans. Still, I thought it might be interesting to read some reviews of a comics newbie and her first impressions. That caveat aside, on with the review!
First impressions: The covers to the entire series so far are pretty damn cool, but I especially like the cover of #854 (above.) The colors are bold, and really help the cover pop. I really like Batwoman’s costume; its just derivative of Batman’s to know what her program is, but different enough to know she’s not just a straight-up ripoff (I hope.) I especially like the red in her costume–I haven’t met the character yet, but I’m already willing to guess it may very well be symbolic. Like most superheroes, I’m willing to bet she has a past that has more than a little red stuff tainting it. Flipping through the pages, its clear that, while the artwork is frigging amazing, they didn’t skimp on words either–it seems, at least from first glance, like there’s a good deal of story to go with the pretty pictures.
Artwork: Holy shit, does it look like I picked the right book to start with! The artwork, at least to my eye, is just stellar. In my mind comic books are all about panels, but in several places the panels meld in to one another, or are placed around a big, central image. Now, I’m sure this isn’t the first comic book to do this, but its still easy to tell that a lot–a LOT–of time and effort went into drawing and designing this layout. Super, super kudos to J.H. Williams on an amazing job. If I had to choose something to pick on, it would be that the color palate is pretty limited–a lot of blacks and reds and grays, and not a whole lot beyond that except for a few key scenes. Really, its a minuscule issue in the scheme of things though; with art this pretty you really don’t feel like you’re being deprived of anything with the use of less color, and frankly, given Batwoman’s profession, its not like she hangs around a lot of lush vegetation or beautiful sunsets.
Writing/story: As an English major, this is my forte–its the reason I picked up a comic book in the first place. Batwoman’s Detective Comics doesn’t disappoint on this level either. I’m really loving her as a character, and I like her alter ego Kate Kane quite a bit as well. Caught me off guard when they dropped the fact that she’s a lesbian in there without warning, but really, does it matter? I don’t think so, and frankly it adds a little bit to the tension between her and the person who seems to be the main villain thus far, a woman who dresses in all white and calls herself Alice. She also speaks in nothing but Lewis Carol quotes, which made me happier than you can possibly fathom (English major. I thought I recognized a lot of the dialog, then made the connection to Carol, and even looked up all the quotes just to confirm my suspicions. Sure enough. Greg Rucka, I love you for this.) We leave off in #858 with (part of) a quite emotional flashback. Clearly, Kate has just as many issues as her counterpart Bruce Wayne, and some of these seem to involve at least her mother. Her father, of course, is still with her and supports her crimefighting habit by taking care of her and providing various gadgets and gizmos for her to use, mostly of the modified military variety since he’s retired military (a small aspect that made my little soldier’s heart glow.)
Final thoughts: Awesome comics series so far. This one went on my pull list the second I saw the first issue, and I’m already impatient for the next to see where this flashback is going. The cover of #858 is actually quite misleading with its picture of a woman bound to a chair with her head covered. (SPOILER AHEAD) I assumed that woman was Kate herself, based on the Special Forces tattoo on her shoulder. But apparently it wasn’t her, it (spoiler, I warned you) was her mother, who apparently had an identical tattoo. I’m eagerly awaiting the next issue, and you should be too!
(I should also add that I of course read the supplement comic “The Question” published behind this one. It wasn’t bad. Not my thing and I wouldn’t buy it on its own, but I’ll keep up with it since its attached here. Might even end up really liking it!