Go buy Batwoman. Shut off your computer, get in your car and go buy Batwoman. Do it now. I’ll be waiting. Why are you still here? Go!
Back? Ok, good. Imagine dating a gorgeous supermodel. Only, this supermodel is smart and witty, and is into everything you’re into, and somehow doesn’t realize that she’s way out of your league. Got that picture in your head? Batwoman is just like that.
The art in Batwoman is, frankly, the best art in any comic book published today. Williams seems to have control over what he’s doing more than any other artist in comics, and it shows in the art. Most comics don’t have art styles that change as often as Batwoman does. From scene to scene, and even within single panels, the art style changes. Williams throws in X-Ray shots, watercolor backgrounds, stylized panel layouts, and complicated splash pages seemingly at will. But throwing them in there isn’t the impressive part. It’s impressive because it all works seamlessly.
More than in almost any other book, the panel layouts are as big of a part of the art as the pencils and colors are. As the Weeping Woman comes into the scene, the panels slowly get more and more shapeless and start to look like flowing water. When Batwoman and Batman talk about Batman Inc. toward the end of the issue, the panels are laid out in Batman’s signature bat logo, with Batwoman’s red bat logo behind it. The only other artist that comes to mind who lays out panels this well is Marcos Martin, in Amazing Spider-Man #655, or his more recent work on the new Daredevil ongoing series.
As great as the art can be, it would all be for naught if the writing didn’t back it up. Fortunately, it does. Williams and W. Haden Blackman give Batwoman a witty, but serious, personality. Detective Sawyer, the woman she’s currently dating, doesn’t know she’s Batwoman and it makes for a few interesting scenes that set up a major conflict in the next issue.
Just like the art, they manage to have two or more lines of action going on at the same time, but it all flows together. In the first scene, Batwoman and Flamebird are fighting some low-level thugs. On top of that, they’re having a conversation about something seemingly unrelated. Even though the main topic doesn’t have to do with the fight, the conversation flows along the same pattern that the fight does, and matches up perfectly with it.
Williams also manages to valiantly resist the temptation to turn Kate Kane’s sexual preference into a major issue. She’s a lesbian, but it’s not shoved in our faces the whole time. Her relationship with Detective Sawyer is treated just like any heterosexual relationship would be. There’s no pointless cheesecake, they have the normal conversations that a hetero couple would, and no one makes a big deal about it. There’s a quick line in the blurb in the beginning about her being a “proud lesbian,” but I can’t fault them for that. I’m sure that’s a selling point for some people.
Batwoman is the best New 52 book not written by Scott Snyder. Do yourself a favor and go buy it. Williams won’t let you down. It’s got the best art in any comic, DC, Marvel, independent, or otherwise. It’s also got some damn good writing to back it up. You might find yourself shaking your head, thinking, “is this art really in a superhero comic?” It’s that good. But I won’t gush about it anymore, go see for yourself.
WRITING: 4 / ART: 5 / OVERALL: 4.5