There were enough requests for this in the comments section of the weekly Upcoming Comics article that I figured I’d talk about Batwoman this Saturday.
As you know, things didn’t end so well between DC Comics and the book’s original writers J.H. Williams & W. Haden Blackman and as a result the 4th volume of the New 52 Batwoman series ended on a cliffhanger that was left unresolved… until now. New writer Marc Andreyko is using this Annual edition to “polish a turd,” so to speak. Can he and artists Trevor McCarthy & Moritat salvage the Batman vs. Batwoman arc and give it a worthy conclusion or at least a halfway satisfying one?
First of all, if you haven’t read Batwoman, Vol. 4 (the Batwoman series through issue #24 that was released last October) don’t bother with this comic. You’re not going to have the slightest clue what’s going on. The issue picks up right where #24 left off, but Batman is noticeably less formidable and he’s quite a bit more talkative in this issue as well. Batwoman quickly gains the upperhand in their fight and page after page, Bones becomes more of a maniacal super villain, thus setting up the books inevitable departure from the DEO, who have been prevalent since issue #1.
Hawkfire and The Crows are still on their mission to rescue Alice, but that doesn’t go too well and despite each member of The Crows getting called out again by name they really don’t play any significant role in the story and are forgotten about entirely by the end. There’s also the subplot regarding the GCPD, which is being taken over by the DEO. As you may recall, Maggie and Bullock were being escorted away by a pair of soldiers, but again, the threat doesn’t seem as severe in the annual because both she and Bullock are able to overpower their captors using the oldest trick in the book. As much as I love Bullock, I don’t think he should be able to bring down a trained soldier. Just because a character is likeable doesn’t mean that they can overcome anything. This was probably the weakest section of the annual because as soon as Bullock and Maggie escape their cuffs they agree it’s time to “bring these morons down” but we never revisit them again. The GCPD is overrun with soldiers and the next scene has Chase no longer on the mainland and acting as though everything is still running smoothly. It’s a subplot that’s dropped completely.
The remainder of the book is all about transforming Bones into a full-on supervillain and strengthening the bond between Batman and Batwoman so that the series can actually start participating in future crossovers and such in a meaningful way. There are some surprising revelations, but they are so far out of left field that they are laughable. The last few pages are when things get condensed. Watching as everything the old creative team set up gets taken down in a closing montage might be heartbreaking to longtime fans, but I was a little impressed. This was a terrible assignment for Andreyko to take on and the fact that he was able to resolve most of the numerous narrative threads left over from his predecessors and connect it all to the new status quo is no small feat.
The art is divided between Trevor McCarthy, who illustrated the original arc, and Moritat (All-Star Western). Neither artist gives a 100% in trying to recapture the look of the issues that came before. McCarthy divides his panels with zig-zags, but that’s the extent of the effort put into making those dynamic page layouts that the Williams/Blackman days were known for. Moritat doesn’t try anything special at all with his panels, just telling the story through traditional squares and rectangles. Neither artist does a bad job, but their styles don’t complement each other at well. McCarthy retains the heavy use of shadows from his earlier work on the series, while Moritat is more straight-forward with his visuals.
- You were a huge fan of the original Williams/Blackman run and aren’t so bitter about their departure that you’ve sworn off Batwoman comics forever
- Any closure is better than none at all. It might not be the exactly what the original writers envisioned, but at least it’s something
Marc Andreyko’s attempt to tie up all of J.H. Williams & W. Haden Blackman’s loose ends is a thankless task to say the least, but he manages to use every page of this oversized annual issue to get the job done. The twists have too much of a soap opera-quality to them, the constant shift between artists is a little distracting, and some of the dialogue could use some work, but it’s an alright issue overall. At the very least it should give some fans the closure they need and it serves as a nice bridge between the old creative team and what Andreyko is doing with the series today.