Posted by:
Lawrence Napoli

Review: Batwoman #1


Batwoman #1 is another volume of “The New 52” that is clearly less of a reset and more of a business-as-usual day in the complex life of Kate Kane, the Batwoman who conceals her pale complexion and fire engine red hair with a costume that reveals her pale complexion and highlights her red hair even more by using a wig that matches her natural color, but is twice the length.  Clearly, Ms. Kane has attended the Clark Kent convention for minimalist identity theft protection.  All joking aside, this is not the type of character that DC can sweep under the rug or alter in any major way because her true significance is the diversity she represents.  Kate Kane is still gay, still Jewish, still a looker, still seeking out a meaningful intimate relationship and still channeling her daddy issues through some good old fashioned vigilante justice.

As opposed to the introductory issue of the new Deathstroke, the first issue of Batwoman is wrought with intrigue, density and a healthy dose of confusion.  A mysterious villainess is introduced, a new partner is being trained, new frustrations are milled over and a new alliance may be brewing by this issue’s end.  All of this is well and good, but the parts of the story I found most rewarding were the panels that featured Kate, the civilian as a flirt, a mentor and a frustrated daughter.  I am not sure if Williams and Blackman are simply catering to my stereotypically hetero interest in lesbians, but that aspect of Batwoman’s story is ever present without distracting the reader from the drama of the tale.

Williams also has a knack for drawing women and rightly so because another important aspect of Batwoman is to highlight more women in the DCU.  Batwoman continues to fill out her costume in a very pleasing way, but I really enjoyed the contrast this character shares with her new, rather ghostly opposition.  La Llorona (The Weeping Woman) is her unconfirmed name and although she bears a small resemblance to an adult Samara from The Ring, her overall look is appropriately creepy, but by no means terrifying.  I also appreciate the art that Williams draws into the background of most of his panels.  It is suggestive that Batwoman’s detective story is somewhat of an acid trip which contributes to the ethereal tone throughout this first issue.

Batwoman #1 is a must buy for me because I really want to read more interesting women in comics.  I can’t help but have some reservations for Kate Kane in that she may fall prey to the same gay stereotypes and suggestions that prevent Wonder Woman from evolving an actual personality outside of her politically correct bubble.  Although this character is very much of a trailblazer, I wouldn’t laud DC’s efforts as being purely progressive.  Batwoman may be a lesbian, but she is still sexy and “sexy” sells books.  I’ll save my “wow, that’s really different!” look for when a major publisher green lights a project about someone who is ugly, but his or her story is still really compelling.