I feel like i just watched a really good first film in a superhero franchise. There's clearly a previous altercation that I haven't read about but that didn't stop me from enjoying and loving this. Kate Kane is a fantastic character. She's smart, skilled, tough and vulnerable all at once, and is principled. She may have left the corps but her reasons were very strict to the cadet's code. She is a fantastic addition to DC's New 52.
The story itself is also a great introduction. A few details may be a little lost on me but the mystery, or perhaps just confusion, was the best part for me. You don't understand Alice's agenda, not really, and that's just scarier.
I also love the different art styles representing different stories or different lives. The panels as Batwoman versus the panels as Kate are radically different. Batwoman's are lush and dreamlike (I love the black and red motif) while Kate's are much more realistic. The stories taking place in Kate's past also are more retro the younger she is. Great use of the visual medium there.
I also greatly enjoyed the presence of Maggie and Renee from Gotham Central, however briefly.
Batwoman was a steady ally in the golden and silver age but had seldom been used since. Here, Greg Rucka reintroduces a new Batwoman for modern DC Comics readers and makes her a particularly interesting character.
The layout and style is brilliantly used to separate the Batwoman and Katherine personas. Dynamic panels accompany a detailed style with bold shades of red. This is countered by Batwoman's everyday life scenes with simple panelling, and toned down colours. Also, when her past is looked at, a third, older comic book style is used. Batwoman is extremely strong, a soldier, a tragic heroine, and a lesbian. She is an excellent role model for girls, not for what she does, but because she moves forward, and sticks to her principles.
Near-perfect. As origin stories go, Rucka has managed to make a believable, likable (if flawed), and entirely compelling character evolve into my new favourite super hero. It becomes tiresome to read the word "female" before the words "super hero," but the sad fact is that comics history has been mired by two-dimensional girl versions of other known characters--and they tend to look like like playboy centrefolds. Batwoman is a welcome reprieve from this and just about the best thing to happen to mainstream comics in a good long while. And, with all that said, the illustrations are good enough to stand alone.
Worth the trip, and certainly worth the GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) award it garnered, Batwoman: Elegy is dynamic comic book storytelling, beautifully drawn, incredibly panelled, and driven by Rucka's suspenseful prose. Readers also get to enjoy discovering how Katherine Kane (aka Batwoman) meet her lover, Detective Renee Montoya. The flirtatious meeting of Kane and Captain Maggie Sawyer, a longtime gay character of the DC Universe, is another gem.
When Gotham’s newest crime-fighter was introduced a few short years ago, I was at first excited. Not just because she sported a sartorial look reminiscent to Terry McGuiness’s Batman suit in the futuristic Batman Beyond TV series, but more because she was written as an out-of-the-closet lesbian from day one; truly one of the first of its kind in comics. (Earlier lesbians in mainstream comics being cleverly closeted to varying degrees.) But I found her character, when she showed up in the curiously odd ensemble piece 52, to be a trite rehashing of the Batman/Bruce Wayne bit. Katherine Kane – her name a nod to Batman’s creator, Bob Kane, no doubt – as a bored-rich-girl-turned-superhero-on-her-off-hours? Yeah, that’s real original. Except for her sleek and sexy black and red leather outfit, her character lacked any real dramatic tension or for that matter originality – other then being a lesbian version of Batman. And a pale one at that.
Fortunately, Rucka has luckily proved me entirely wrong with this six-issue series Elegy. (I do have to remind myself that he was, after all, a co-writer on Gotham Central; hands-down the best Batman series in recent times. Even if the Bat himself rarely showed up.) Rucka provides a back-story to Kate that makes her far more interesting than I originally thought. Imagine a West Point cadet who is dishonorably discharged for being gay – and don’t forget a cameo appearance by Daniel Choi, real-life USMA cadet – and then turns to crime-fighting to right wrongs. But wait, there’s more. Imagine a horrific event in her childhood in which her mother and twin sister are brutally murdered during a kidnapping gone-awry when her family is stationed in Belgium. Both of these things converge and play out beautifully within the main narrative of Batwoman’s search for Alice, the new leader of Gotham’s thirteen organized crime covens.
Oh, and as for the art duties here? Williams’s pencils and inks never been finer. Not to mention Dave Stewart’s vividly stunning colors. (If you read Hellboy or BPRD, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.) Williams was great on Alan Moore’s Promethea early this last decade. And his work here on Batwoman is even better.
Now, if only Nolan were going to do more than three Batman films. Katherine Kane/Batwoman is a character worth exploring on screen.
Greg Rucka has taken what could have been a sensationalistic characeter (DC Comics first mainstream lesbian character!) and created a complex, compelling story of a costumed vigilante that is just as fascinating in or out of her bat costume. And the artwork by J.H. Williams III is beyond compare.
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