By Andy Frisk
December 1, 2010 - 17:51
Kate Kane, The Batwoman, recently headlined a short stint in Detective Comics while Bruce Wayne was “dead.” It was the only Bat-book worth reading at the time. Giving Batwoman her own series is a no brainer, but can the writing team of Williams III and Blackman do more with this interesting character than rely on Williams’ fantastic artwork and wear out the whole lesbian angle, which is unfortunately either mentioned or focused on in nearly every single issue of a comic book that Kate Kane/Batwoman appears in?
Yes, Kate Kane is a lesbian, and it is highly commendable that a major publisher like DC Comics has made a homosexual such a high profile character. What makes Kate such an interesting character though isn’t the fact that she is an out of the closet lesbian in a very semi-tolerant world. She has a solid back story, a dubious familial connection to her greatest enemy: The Religion of Crime syndicate, and has the coolest of the female Bat-characters’ costumes. She is a tortured soul, so to speak, and even Bruce Wayne states that “More important, she has the one thing I can’t teach. That hole inside her that can’t ever be filled, no matter how many criminals she takes down…it gives her the drive to do this.” Bruce Wayne/Batman, over the course of Batwoman’s debut ongoing issue, studies Kate’s fighting skill, ability, and crime fighting drive in order to discern whether or not to bring her into his new Batman, Inc. fold. After observing her battle Sister Shard of the Religion of Crime cult and following her about town in disguise, Batman decides it is time that “she and I have a serious discussion about the future.”
Unfortunately (in a storytelling sense), Batman’s following her around also involves his spying on her extra-curricular activities…where Kate goes clubbing and “picks up a date for the night.” Of course, as is the case with most mainstream superhero comics, we don’t get any graphic details, but the story calls for a scene of her dancing in a gay club while lesbians kiss behind her and a shot of her about to kiss her “date for the night.” This focus on Kate’s sexuality and apparent frivolous behavior can be justified as necessary in order to introduce new readers to Kate’s background and life, so it’s excusable this time. Batwoman really doesn’t need to focus on this small aspect of Kate’s character though. After all, we all know that Bruce Wayne is supposed to be a frivolous playboy himself, but every issue that he appears in as the main character doesn’t focus on his sexuality. Let’s see Kate Kane/Batwoman get the same treatment.
Fortunately (in an artistic sense), J.H. Williams III picks up right where he left off in Detective Comics as far as his visual portrayal of Kate Kane/Batwoman goes. Since Batwoman is a less popular or well known character than Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern, any comic book featuring her needs to be as visually appealing as it can be in order to draw the attention of the casual reader. Williams III’s artwork is very detailed, anatomically correct, and realistic. At the same time, he injects some incredibly psychedelic aspects to his work that is almost indescribable in a way. His unique panel structure is unlike that of any artist working in the mainstream right now. Everything that made his run on Detective Comics worth devouring visually is recaptured in Batwoman #0. The added treat in this issue is that Amy Reeder, one of the very few other sequential artists that I admire nearly as much as Williams III and who broke into the mainstream in a big way with her stint on the late, great Madame Xanadu, handles the artistic chores when Kate is out of her Batwoman costume. Her also highly realistic, yet slightly cartoonish or manga-like style compliments William III’s trippy realistic style. Kate, outside of her Batwoman costume, is every bit as attractive as Reeder's Nimue was in Madame Xanadu. Williams III will be penciling Batwoman when it launches monthly in February of 2011, so we know where to go for some more of William III’s worthy work. Where Reeder ends up will be every bit as worth following as well. Hopefully, it will be on another major DC Comics title.
Overall, Batwoman #0 doesn’t really tell a groundbreaking story, but does do a good job of reframing for new readers Kate Kane/Batwoman’s character within the whole Batman Inc. storyline. It’s much more of an introductory tale, than a probing of Kate’s deep and troubled psyche, but when this series goes monthly it has the potential to become a must read book. Batwoman as a character hasn’t been around too terribly long in this incarnation, but if Batwoman reads as well as it looks, she will be.
Rating: 7.5 /10