Thursday, June 10, 2010

Waiting for Trade? – Batwoman: Elegy

Creative Team: Greg Rucka (W) and J.H. Williams III (A)
Price: $24.99
Available now

I don’t plan to do many Waiting for Trades on main DC Universe ongoings. A lot of them are okay, but the continuity in them sometimes makes it hard to recommend just one storyline to a casual reader or someone who isn’t looking to follow a title for the foreseeable future (or until they switch writers and everything has a “new direction”). If you like the character you will probably pick it up anyway, and if you don’t then it better be one hell of a story to get you interested. So when you see me recommend one of them, I’m serious about it. The collection of Batwoman’s recent run on “Detective Comics” is one such example.  This collection inculdes issues 854-860. 

These comics really blew me away. I know there were people who were doubtful when it was first announced. They wondered why they should care about Kate Kane/Batwoman. And that’s what this story did. It made you care about Batwoman. This title quickly moved up in my read order every month as the story got more and more exciting.

What we have here is an introduction to Batwoman and her place in Gotham. If you’ve never read anything else with Batwoman before (and there isn’t a whole lot you could have) don’t worry. I hadn’t read anything before this, and while there is reference to a previous plot she was in, I felt that everything was explained well. They didn’t go over every detail, so if you still want to check the story out I’m sure it will be a fun ride, but they tell you enough so you don’t feel like you are missing any big pieces of the puzzle.

The comic isn’t just Batwoman though. She has a supporting cast of her own, some characters that Bat-fans will be familiar with and some new. Her father plays a huge role in her crime fighting persona and their dynamic is a lot of fun. Maggie Sawyer of the Gotham PD makes an appearance as does Renee Montoya, the current Question, although only in flashback. An interesting cameo is made by Bette Kane, Flamebird (of the Titans variety, not the Kryptonian one), and later issues suggest she could play a big part in Batwoman’s future.

Batwoman’s first story here features a villain named Alice (who seems to speaks only in quotes from the Lewis Carol books, which must have been a pain to write) who is the new leader of a secret cult, and old nemesis to Batwoman, called the Coven. I’m still sad that the Mad Hatter never showed up to investigate Alice, since he’s always looking for her. She would have blown his mind. The confrontation with Batwoman ends with a huge impact and the story flows seamlessly and logically into Batwoman’s origin story. Back stories can often feel forced in comics, but this one is set up so that you are asking all the right questions that only a back story can answer and are glad to see it. Not only does it answer a lot of those questions, but it continues to build Kate Kane as a character.

The art is incredible. And even more amazingly for me, it came out on time. Since I get my comics monthly I could be wrong and it could have been a week delayed somewhere in there, but it never missed a month. Some of the page layouts are breathtaking. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it blew me away.  And was good enough to earn a few Eisner nominations as well for Best Penciller/Inker, Best Cover Artist, and Best Coloring.

News has surfaced of a new Batwoman ongoing on the horizon, but unfortunately Greg Rucka won’t be attached. He’s leaving DC to take time to work on his creator owned projects. This is a major bummer as he was planning to write a three issue arc explaining Alice’s origin and now there is no telling if we will ever get to see it (because unless Rucka writes it I doubt anyone else will touch it). I’m bummed because Rucka IS the voice of this character, but I’m happy to give the future a chance to impress me as well. But if you haven’t yet picked up this introduction to Batwoman and her adventures I heartily recommend that you do so.

1 comment:

  1. Books like this make me wonder how some other artists stay employed in the comic book industry. It is a beautiful book that came out every month. How is it that those who are producing lackluster art behind schedule manage to keep their jobs? In almost any other business, if you're consistently missing your deadlines, you get canned.But I digress, amazing book, amazing story, and gorgeous art. Really happy you convinced me to read this one.