Each weekday, Tim will take a look at what we know about each of the upcoming 52 new comics from the September DC relaunch, one series at a time. Today: BATWOMAN!
The Concept and Characters: Batwoman is Kate Kane, lesbian crimefighter.
As a character, she was nothing more than a sexual orientation and a costume when she debuted to widespread media coverage even before her on-page appearance in the DC event comic 52, back in 2006. Her superhero identity, and her civilian alter ego, alluded to an almost-forgotten Batman character: Kathy Kane, the Silver Age Batwoman, from the time when Batman hung out in the Batcave with a bunch of pals who wore variations on his favorite motif.
But this new Batwoman was different! Because she was gay.
Of course, that didn’t make any difference in her approach to crimefighting, and now that even Archie Andrews has an openly gay friend, the media attention on a gay Batwoman way back in 2006 seems almost quaint.
Here’s something else, besides her broadcast-to-the-world sexual orientation, that’s not-at-all-a-secret (though less written about in major newspapers or television news websites) regarding this new Batwoman series—it’s going to be very good. We know this series is headed toward quality for four reasons:
- Reason #1: It’s a follow up to a critically-acclaimed 2009 Detective Comics run by Greg Rucka and J. H. Williams III (repackaged in the collected edition as Batwoman: Elegy).
- Reason #2: J. H. Williams III, one of the three greatest comic book artists working today, is heavily involved in this series as a co-writer and as one of the rotating artists.
- Reason #3: Amy Reeder (formerly known as Amy Reeder Hadley), artist of the beautiful-looking, if not-amazingly-written, Madame Xanadu series is the other rotating artist on the series.
- Reason #4: The zero issue for this series already came out months ago, and this relaunched book is actually a comic that was supposed to come out earlier this year. With the delay to time it for a September release as part of the line-wide relaunch, the creative team will have even more completed stories, which means far less possibility for delays for the first year of the series.
The character and concept are truly secondary to the creative team, as all four of those reasons illustrate. But if you want to know more about the character and concept, know this: Batwoman: Elegy is still widely available. Read that. Because it’s great, and I don’t want to spoil all the twists and turns of that story to explain the status quo of Kate Kane and her crimefighting world. (Note: it may have werewolves and surprise reveals in it. But not surprise reveals about the werewolves, don’t worry.)
The Creative Team: I mentioned above that J. H Williams III is one of the three greatest artists working in comics today, and I mean it. (The other two, for the official record, would be Frank Quitely, who draws almost nothing anymore, and whoever else I’m obsessed with at the moment, and that could be anyone from Moebius to Brendan McCarthy to Dave Gibbons to Jerome Opeña, depending on my mood. But Williams III is always in the Top 3.) Williams III has used a variety of styles to suit the scenes in previous Batwoman issues, and I expect that he’ll do the same here, but he’s such a constantly surprising artist—so capable of doing anything with the form—that I wouldn’t want to pin him down with any kind of specific expectations. Other than the expectation that his work will be astonishing.
Amy Reeder isn’t as revolutionary as stylist as Williams III, but she’s very good. Good enough that I would buy this comic if she were just drawing it without rotating with Williams III.
I don’t know much about J. H. Williams III’s co-writer, Haden Blackman, other than what I’ve read about his experience working on some video game stories. He is a wild card, but this is a comic where it’s all about the art, and the art looks to be some of the best stuff you’ll ever see. If the writing’s good, then it’s gravy on top of a mashed meal of gorgeous illustrations.
Recommendation: Definitely buy it. Buy extra copies of the Williams III-drawn issues so you can cut out the pages and frame them, because it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than buying the original art, though you should probably buy that too, if you have a few thousand extra bucks just sitting around. Seriously, though, this is one of the must-buy series of the relaunch.
Tim Callahan writes about comics for Tor.com, Comic Book Resources, Back Issue magazine, and his own Geniusboy Firemelon blog.