When DC announced the departure of Greg Rucka from Detective Comics back in the spring of 2010, many fans saw it as the death knell for the newest member of the Bat-family. While DC was quick to promise Batwoman’s adventures would continue with J.H. Williams III assuming writer and artist duties, there were still worries about how the series would continue without Rucka’s guidance. It’s been 8 months since Batwoman last appeared in Detective Comics, and it looks like it’s going to be another 3 months until her regular series begins. So for fans of Kate Kane, Batwoman #0 is a welcome treat. While it doesn’t substantially continue previous storylines, or begin any new ones, it provides a great character study as Bruce Wayne tries to make sense of the vigilante who’s emerged in his absence.
In terms of narrative, Batwoman #0 is a stylistic departure from Rucka’s stint as writer. The story is completely from Bruce Wayne’s point of view. There’s no dialogue, just notes from Batman’s journals as he follows Batwoman and Kate Kane in an effort to prove that they are the same person. This personal perspective is very different from the original Detective Comics run, which was told entirely in third person perspective, without any internal monologue or thought bubbles. The change in style is due to Williams’ contribution as writer to the series, joined by co-writer W. Hayden Blackman. Williams and Blackman have worked together before, and this sort of intimate style seems to be natural to their collaboration. Take for example, their contribution to the Hellboy universe in the Weird Tales series. On the surface it is a stake out story as Hellboy and a female FBI agent try to locate a murderous goat-man. But the real meat of the story is the interactions between Hellboy and the agent, and her slow but determined attempts to seduce him in spite of his discomfort with her advances. It’s a very different story for Hellboy, but it was an interesting take on the character. I hope Williams and Blackman continue to apply this style to Batwoman and explore the character’s inner life as she deals with the double life of a super hero and ordinary person.
Of course, Williams isn’t just returning to Batwoman to write its stories, he is still serving up the art that made readers fall in love with the series in the first place. While this issue doesn’t offer anything new to Batwoman’s trademark style, or veer into the extremely experimental work that popped up in the Elegy storyline, it is still very good and demonstrates Williams ability to create dynamic scenes and beautifully structured layouts.
This issue also marks the official debut of Amy Reeder as an artist for Batwoman, and it’s a good start indeed. Reeder shows Kate in a variety of scenes in her civilian life, and each comes across naturally and with variety. Reeder’s scenes are also have the pleasure of showing Bruce Wayne in the various disguises he uses while trailing Kate in her day-to-day life. Probably my favorite moment in the whole comic is Bruce’s pissy expression as he sits at a bar watching Kate dance, possibly while being hit on by the bartender. The contrast between Bruce’s dourness and Kate’s exuberance is both fun and telling. The only thing missing in her contribution is evidence of how she will draw Kate as Batwoman. There’s one scene that suggests how it will go, but it’s not enough to fully satisfy.
If there is one failing to the issue, it’s how short it is. The actual story only runs for 16 pages, the rest of the issue is advertisements and previews for other Batman comics. Granted, one of those previews is for the upcoming Batwoman series, but of the four pages shown only two haven’t already appeared on the Internet. But as far as the two pages go, they’re pretty great, and provide some helpful context for the pages already available. If I’m remembering my Mexican folklore, it looks like La Llorona is going to come into play in the new series, which is interesting when compared against the solicit for the issue. And if it’s any consolation, DC was at least nice enough to drop the price back down to $2.99, so it’s not too painful to drop money for this one shot.
On the whole, Batwoman #0 is a must have for fans of the original Rucka/Williams run in Detective Comics. For those of you who weren’t already reading Batwoman’s stories, I’d still recommend it. It’s a nice jumping on point and by any standard is a good book, both in terms of art and story. For those of us who are already waiting for the regular series to start, well I guess February isn’t too far away, right?
Reviewed by Erik