Ricky Church reviews Batwoman by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III…
Writer Greg Rucka and artists J.H. Williams III and Jock’s legendary run of Batwoman adventures from DETECTIVE COMICS #854-863 are collected in a single title for the first time! In these stories, Kate Kane takes on the Religion of Crime and struggles to save Gotham City from the surreal villainy of Alice. Plus, learn the origin of Batwoman!
Since her introduction to the DC universe, Kate Kane, aka Batwoman, has become a fan-favourite character and a great addition to the already great Bat-family. With Batwoman a few issues into her new series in the DC Rebirth era, now is a perfect time to revisit her past in Batwoman by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III, the complete collection of their take on the character.
The book collects the issues previously seen in the Batwoman: Elegy collection, though also contains the never-before-collected ‘Cutter’ storyline that artist Jock illustrated. While some may complain at having to double-dip, its only a small issue since you’re not only getting all of Rucka’s Batwoman run, but Williams’ gorgeous art is worth the price of double-dipping.
The main story sees Batwoman having to confront a cult lead by a woman named Alice, who has stylized herself on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. This cult nearly killed Batwoman before, in an event that is quickly recapped, making this personal for her. Along her mission to stop them though she has to deal with the trauma of her past and discovers a life-changing secret about her family.
It’s a very well written story and readers can get behind Batwoman’s character very easily. Rucka makes her likeable, charismatic and fairly relatable. Despite the superheroics and presence of werewolves and a few other monsters, ‘Elegy’ is an interesting character piece about the choices one makes and the need to serve. Kate’s struggles as a lesbian are also well done, making you really feel the impact of how much her identity means to her.
As said, Williams’ art is gorgeous. From the way he lays out the pages to his sketches, Batwoman seriously looks great. There’s some very neat artwork here that is accentuated by Dave Stewart’s colours. What is really interesting to see is the differences in art when Kate is in ‘civilian’ mode and when she’s Batwoman. Everything is a little darker and more stylized when she’s Batwoman, but the colours are brighter and layouts simpler when she’s Kate Kane.
All of the art is incredibly detailed though, from Batwoman and Alice’s looks to her moves. There’s just as much action between the panels as there is in, allowing the readers to fill in the gaps on their own. ‘Elegy’ is a pretty immersive story.
The second storyline in the book, ‘Cutter’, sees Batwoman on the hunt for a serial killer. Artist Jock is on art duties for this story and his style is fairly different from Williams, but no less good. ‘Cutter’ is a story that is much less fantastical than ‘Elegy’; there are no crazy cults or were-beasts, just a murder investigation with a serial killer. Jock does an excellent job depicting the grittiness of the story. His character models and movements are very fluid and sell the real-world aspect of the story. Rucka also continues the emotional fallout of ‘Elegy’ and progresses Batwoman’s character as she deals with it and tries to save a young woman from experiencing the same type of ordeals she went through.
Batwoman by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III also contains a collection of variant covers, Williams’ early and uncoloured sketches and some script pages from Rucka. Those concerned about double-dipping shouldn’t be with the extra content and finally being able to have ‘Cutter’ in their collection.
Rucka’s overall run on Batwoman is a great story and examination of a new character. Reading this again, its no wonder why Batwoman became such a fan-favourite and powerful character. Combined with Williams and Jock’s art, this is definitely a book Batman and Batwoman fans should pick up.