Posted on June 16, 2012 AT 07:52pm
Look out Bruce, there’s a new bat in town. Kate Kane has returned (meaning her new series launched with the New 52 some months back) as the Batwoman, one of the many spinoff’s of Bruce Wayne’s legendary alter ego. The name and costume are about the only things they have in common, however.
The first volume of her New 52 run, Hydrology, collects issues #0-#5 in a beautiful hardcover edition, giving readers (those who know the character as well as those who are just finding out about her) a chance to see what Kate can do. The series is gritty, brutal and bloody, but with a sense of beauty, as well. The team of J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman create a look into Gotham that seems like a completely different city than the one Batman protects.
Williams III and Blackman co-write the series, and do so almost flawlessly. This first arc, which features Kate’s investigation of “La Llorona”, which is Spanish for “The Weeping Woman”. This supernatural aspect is not territory that is too familiar with Gotham, but this urban legend has made its way to to the Dark Knight’s city. The legend tells of a woman who drowns her own sorrows (the death of her children), who now haunts the world, taking innocent children and leading them to a watery grave. Kate’s twin sister passed in a similar fashion, which may have prompted her to take on this mystery. Nothing is what it seems when it comes to the supernatural, and with the help of her cousin Bette, who accompanies Kate as the superhero Flamebird, her lover and Gotham City Detective Maggie Sawyer, the tradition holds true. Especially after the appearance of two high ranking officials from the D.E.O. (Department of Extranormal Operations), who are there trying to find the identity of the mysterious Batwoman. This storyline is done incredibly well, with Kate coming off as a true hero.
Williams III is also the artist for the series, and his work in this collection is nothing short of mind-blowing. The placement of panels is unique, sometimes needing a second read to get the full flow, as many pages break contemporary comic layouts, with conversations spanning across pages, instead of from top to bottom across a page. The artwork is detailed, vibrant and incredibly well done, with stylistic changes at some points. This can be a bit confusing and off-putting, but barely detracts from the series as a whole. When she’s Kate Kane, the artwork is a bit less detailed, with less details and shadowing, but more vibrant colors. When she’s the Batwoman, it gets darker, more brutal, with better shadowing, but a more pale color scheme. There are also sequences of black and white cut into the story (this was actually a love scene between Kate and Maggie, which, by portraying it in this style, was very tasteful and well done), as well as unique panel shapes that are tailored to fit into the flow and environment, instead of just as a way to individualize the goings on of the plot. This style is far more engrossing, and looks much better than traditional comic book style, and is done terrifically.
Despite some pretty popular company, (including Batman, who made an appearance in several issues of this collection) Batwoman has come out of the New 52 as one of the premiere characters in the DC universe. With new runs of nearly every major hero debuting in a small time frame, Batwoman manages to make herself stand out with a terrific style, great writing, and a character that is unique, and a complete badass. A incredibly well done series, to this point, and a collection that comic book fans should not pass up. Whether it’s a first look into the Batwoman series or a return visit, Batwoman, Vol. 1: Hydrology is a must-read, and a must own for any fan of DC, or comics as a whole.
The Good: Great Writing, Terrific Artwork And Compelling Characters
The Bad: Panel Flow Is Sometimes Confusing
The Ugly: Artistic Style Changes Don’t Always Flow Correctly
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