By Andy Frisk
June 24, 2009 - 22:55
Dark, edgy, grimy, and great are the terms that just about sum up Batwoman’s debut as the new featured character in Detective Comics. I hate to admit it, but I really enjoyed this issue. Even The Question’s backup, or “Second Feature” tale was a solid read. Both of these characters are interesting, but never seemed to strike me as the types of characters that could carry their own series, so DC did the next best thing. They put them both into an established title. Yes, this is a risky move, but if Rucka, Williams III, and Hamner can manage to put together a strong introductory arc that builds on the strong debuts of these characters, then the gamble just might pay off.
Batwoman’s tale starts out with her tracking down a local hood, and prying information from him about the identity of the Religion of Crime’s new leader. After a quick chat with the new Batman, where he gives her his “blessing” to pursue her mission against the Crime Cultists, we get an interlude that demonstrates the toll that being a nocturnal superhero takes on Kate’s (Batwoman’s) love life. Back at her place, we catch a glimpse of Kate’s relationship with her “pop,” as he helps her out with some advice, and a new weapon he procures for her for use in her war on crime (he knows that she’s Batwoman, and is supportive, if somewhat protective in a fatherly way). Shortly thereafter, Batwoman gets back to the bashing of the bad guys routine, which leads her to her goal…
Kate/Batwoman is all alt-rock/nu-metal sexiness in her black latex, spandex, leather, or whatever her GPS equipped Bat-suit, and civilian style dress bodice are made of, with the dark eyeliner and appropriately placed tattoos one might expect of her character, as she is portrayed. She isn’t portrayed as the stereotypical lesbian (yes, she’s gay), nor the stereotypical rocker (if there even is such a thing as a stereotypical lesbian or rocker), but as a pretty unique army brat with rocker fashion sense. She is the image of the typical hottie hero, but definitely with an edge. Williams III’s pencils, and panel layouts, which are highly creative, interesting, and quite artistic, are great. His hyper detailed costumes, and dress, as well as backgrounds really give the reader much to absorb, visually, in each panel and page.
Rucka delivers everything that a monthly reader of a comic book wants. He sets up a story, throws in some action, mystery and drama, and leaves us wanting more. The only drawback is that it seems like Kate/Batwoman is always tangled up with the Crime Cultists, and this is the case again here. While the Crime Cultists thing is interesting, it will be much more interesting when we see Kate move on to some other cases, like maybe a tussle with The Joker, another Bat-villain, or some type of psycho criminal. This “Religion of Crime” themed first arc should be sufficient territory in which to establish her though.
Rucka also crafts a pretty strong debut backup story for Renee Montoya/The Question. She ends up getting involved with dirty dealings being carried out on innocent Hispanic immigrants, and one female immigrant in particular, by a border smuggler, with what appears to be an illegal sex slavery/pornography ring.
Hamner draws a sleeker looking Question, giving her a much better fitting and stylish looking fedora that looks made for a female hero. Overall, he makes her much sharper looking than she ever has looked before, and pulls off the “faceless” look better than I’ve, at least, seen.
Again, as much as I hate to admit it, being a Bruce Wayne/Batman fan, Detective Comic’s new protagonists debut pretty strongly at the hands of Rucka, Williams III, and Hamner. It will be interesting to see where these characters go, and how they develop over the course of their run as headliners. They both were pretty strong leads in 52, but taking the reigns of one of DC’s longest running titles is a whole different ballgame. We’ll see how many innings they last.
Rating: 9 /10