Marguerite Bennett and James Tynion IV continue to build intrigue in this relaunch of Kate Kane’s story and it looks like we’re in for a slow burn. The title of this week’s issue, “Running up that Hill”, a reference to a Kate Bush song from 1985. It’s apropos in a variety of ways, which you can discover for yourself, though I will say I am amused it happens to be a Kate Bush song, and that said Kate occasionally wore her hair red. She did not kick butt in a bat suit, though.
As far as I know.
Anyway. When last we left off, Kate had discovered one of Safiyah’s hands, Rafael, just in time to see him murdered. While we open up with a nice flashback to whet our memories as to who’s who and where we are (Coryana), we then pick right up (literally) with Kate carrying Rafael’s body up to the house.
We find out the identity of the masked villain called The Knife, and it’s our first big clue that the allegiances on Coryana have seriously shifted since Kate Kane left years ago. There’s been a cataclysm. The closed up house, the strange behavior of Safiyah’s trusted staff, and the roundabout story regarding what’s happened since Kate’s fateful departure seems to set up mysteries within mysteries. And then there’s those Many Arms to worry about.
Julia Pennyworth gives an assist, but her panel-time is limited, thankfully. Maybe if they keep her sidelined for most of the adventure she won’t feel completely shoehorned in.
What a vista!
There’s entirely too much exposition in this comic, but Bennett and Tynion manage to push the story along. Hopefully once we have things in place, we won’t have to suffer more who’s-who of this intrigue plot. Nothing makes my eyes glaze more than the action grinding to a halt so that the writer can introduce a bunch of characters as if to catch us up on a story we missed somehow (and might be more interesting that the one being currently told for all we know).
But there is some outstanding cool action in this book that makes up for some of its boggier narrative moments. Batwoman continues her battle against The Knife, and though once again nothing is resolved, the two women look fantastic thanks to Steve Epting’s incredible style and excellent eye for unconventional and refreshingly non-sexualized female combat scenes. The irony here, of course, is that everyone looks sexy as anything, but because they look powerful, not because their soft parts are being thrust in our faces.
Steve Epting’s art: drown me in it!
My one complaint on the art is that, it could just be me, but maybe all the women look a little too much alike in this book. Every time a new female character was introduced, I thought: oh no! It’s Safiyah! Only to realize it wasn’t. Finally, at the end when we see her, the framing of the panels makes it seem as if the reveal of her face should be a big surprise, but by then I felt like shrugging my shoulders. She looks pretty much like all other dark long-haired women we’d been introduced to prior. So, first of all, I’m not sure why there’s this coy reveal, and secondly, can one of these women just cut her hair or something so that we can actually tell them apart?
That said, the final reveal in terms of the plot was pretty satisfying. Even though we probably could have predicted it at this point, it was nicely dramatic in terms of the execution. It could have been more seamlessly impactful if we hadn’t been needlessly teased about her face, though.
- You just love to roll around in a beautiful book. Well worth a flip without the words, which is not something you can say for just any book.
- You love deep clannish exotic spy vs. spy James Bond globetrotting serial adventure!
- Kate’s background is every bit as interesting to you as her current Batwoman persona.
Feels like we’re still in ramp-up mode with Batwoman, but what a ramp! Bennett and Tynion are building some very interesting dynamics between Kate, her old flame Safiyah, and her presumed mark–the Many Arms/Hands/Feet whatever they are. While I spent way too much time thinking every new woman introduced must be Safiyah, we do get there eventually. Epting’s art with colors by Jeromy Cox outshine everything and bump this rating up at least half a point if not a full one, but I have a feeling it would no matter how tight and riveting the story was. I know people feel burned and kvetchy about this book, but even with its current narrative shortcomings, I think it’s worth taking a chance.