Detective Comics #948 review

Detective Comics 948

Batwoman Begins is a two part story being featured in the pages of Detective Comics that will most likely lead directly into the solo Batwoman book that is starting in mid-March, preceded by a one-shot Rebirth book in February.  Both this story and the subsequent Batwoman series will be written by James Tynion IV and Marguerite Bennett.  So, if you are in the market for the new Batwomman book and want a peak into what may be in store for her in her own upcoming series, then this is for you.

The story is pretty straightforward and can be easily broken up into three main sections.  Our intro which is told in flashback, the middle of the book which presents our heroes with their dilemma, and finally the closing scene which introduces the villain.

Personally, I felt that the opening flashback was the most captivating.  It displayed humor, an engaging scene between Kate and her father, and further evidence of how awesome Batman is.  Given that Jacob is now a villain, having heart to heart talks with him isn’t something we really get to see anymore.  So, it’s nice to have a little callback that recognizes that aspect of their relationship.

Umm…is she giving Batman a come-hither look?

Once we jump back into the here and now, we discover that the government is concerned that the remains of the monsters from “Night of the Monster Men” might be used to create other bio weapons.  This information is delivered to us and our heroes via Dr. Victoria October.  This scene can be a bit of an exposition dump, but given that it’s a debriefing that makes sense to have within the confines of the story, it doesn’t feel all that unnatural.  It also helps that Dr. October is a little sassy.  Her dry wit is delightful and really helps to spice up what could have been an otherwise dull scene.  As fate would have it, The Colony has stolen several canisters of monster goo.  Enough to pose a serious threat, and Batman is tasked with getting it back.  Cue villain intro..

Superhero landing…I guess…because, you know…why not.

I felt like this was the one element in the story that had a very “been there done that” feeling to it.  Look at me, I’m a one man army.  I’ve studied all your moves for years and can counter anything you do.  I get it, it’s another anti-Batman following in the classic footsteps of such villains as Killer Moth, The Wrath, and Prometheus.  I think I’d have felt better about it if instead of him bragging about his mad skills, he would have just attacked them in silence and actually held his own.  Then we would have seen what a threat he was.  His look is also a little generic.  I mean, it’s kind of cool, but it also has that “been there done that” feeling to it as well.

Art for this issue is handled by Ben Oliver, and I feel that his illustrations are one of the few that have come anywhere near to capturing the look J.H. Williams III established for the character of Batwoman.  That’s not to say that Oliver delivers on the stunning page layouts that Williams was known for, but Oliver’s work does carry with it a certain otherworldly quality to it that mimics quite nicely the tone that Williams often instilled in his visuals.  If you’re at all familiar with Williams’ work, I’m sure you know what I mean.

Oliver’s character faces also lean more towards realistic representations rather than cartoony or caricaturistic, which is also something I associate with Williams.  In some ways though, I’d say Oliver is actually more skilled at the face work aspect than Williams was.  In general, Oliver’s work left me with a similar yet different feeling.  Enough that I felt like it fit with a Batwoman story, but different enough that I didn’t feel that Oliver was trying to copy anything, but instead was giving us his own style.

I did notice one thing that threw me off a little.  A couple of times throughout the story, Oliver depicts Batwoman without her cape when she is in silhouette.  I guess this was a stylistic choice, but as you can see, Batman still has his cape.  So, I’m not really sure why it was done.

Recommended if…

  • You want to see what Tynion and Bennett have in store for the upcoming Batwoman series.
  • You like a Batman story that doesn’t forget to deliver a bit of humor along with the darkness and melancholy.
  • You’re a Batwoman fan.
  • You wanna check out some pretty nifty art by Ben Oliver.

Overall:

This is a pretty solid opening filled with compelling characters, engaging interactions, beautiful artwork, witty dialogue, and a thought provoking premise that has a hint of real world relevance to it.  While one could argue that this is merely a ploy to get us to buy yet another comic book, if the forthcoming Batwoman series delivers the kind of quality this story has shown, it seems to me that it’s a win win situation for both sides.  I’m looking forward to the culmination of this story and where Tynion and Bennett decide to take us beyond that.

SCORE:  8.5 / 10

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