Talk about starting a new arc with a bang! The newest Batwoman story sees her back in Gotham and fighting none other than Mr. Freeze. How did Freeze get out of Arkham? It’s not addressed, nor is it ever brought up in today’s Birds of Prey where Victor is also wreaking havoc. As for which of these two Mr. Freeze comics you should read first… it’s really up to you. I don’t think that there was any communication between the two creative teams and Mr. Freeze’s dual appearances today were mere coincidence. I will say that this comic is good and Birds of Prey #18 is bad though, at least in my opinion.
The only real problem with Batwoman #18 is that it isn’t as great of a jumping-on point for new fans as I had hoped. There are quite a few new things going on and while it was easy for a such as myself to follow, I have read the first two volumes of Batwoman! Anyone who hasn’t seen at least volume 1 of this series is going to be left out in the cold. It’s odd really… I don’t know how Batwoman can get away without numerous editors notes or painful lines of exposition riddled dialogue while something like Nightwing is constantly plagued by “*Dick Grayson used to be Robin. Check every ****ing Batman comic ever –Editor” or “Sonia, it’s great to see you even though your father was Tony Zucco, the man who killed my parents. How are things at the bank? Still helping me finance the new Amusement Mile I hope!”
Seriously, Batwoman fans must be thrilled. While it’s not very accessible to new readers it seems far more determined to please the fans who have stuck around since day one and that must make for a pretty rewarding read. In fact, this is the first issue of Batwoman in a very long time to acknowledge the rest of the Bat-family and the typical goings-on of Gotham. Not only will you see her confront Mr. Freeze in a spectacular fight scene, but you’ll see Batman as well. I was also oddly pleased to hear Batwoman mock Mr. Freeze as being one-note. He truly is. He’s from the same class of villain as Mad Hatter and Man-Bat when it comes to repetitive plots.
The fun Gotham stuff doesn’t last for long, however. We quickly get back into Kate Kane’s personal life and the DEO stuff, a secret organization that Batwoman has been working for since the first volume of the New 52 series. There’s no real explanation for who everyone is so I can imagine that will lead to some confusion and honestly I kind of wish I had waited for the trade. Having only read up to volume 2, I’m afraid I’ve had some pretty major developments spoiled for me here particularly between Kate and her girlfriend Maggie.
You’ve likely heard of Batwoman mainly because of the artwork by J.H. Williams III, but this issue is actually done by Trevor McCarthy who I felt did a tremendous job. He did great work capturing the look and feel of J.H. Williams’ original design back when he first came aboard the series in Volume 2 and it seems to me that he’s only gotten better. The colors of this comic are equally magnificent. The only complaint I had was with Mr. Freeze’s look but that’s not the fault of this creative team, that’s just how Mr. Freeze looks in the New 52. The sleeveless suit and puff-ball haircut just looks awful to me.
Issue #18 kicks off an interesting new arc for the Batwoman series but it’s not likely to gain any new followers unless those folks are dedicated enough to go back and read the first 3 volumes. Seeing how Batwoman and her partner operate against a foe like Mr. Freeze in the book’s opening pages was very thrilling and it’s great to see that the personal relationships of these characters are still getting plenty of focus as well. The artwork is gorgeous and features some really stylish page layouts that are a pleasure to look at too. Other than the poor accessibility of this first chapter my only complaints would be that the ending was rather abrupt and its cliffhanger confusing. The comic places so much emphasis on the artwork that sometimes very little happens on a page and with so many characters the tale didn’t quite gain enough traction following the opening fight.