Batwoman #40 “Nocturne In Red”
Written by Marc Andreyko
Pencils by Georges Jeanty
Inks by Karl Story and Dexter Vines
Colors by Guy Major

Before I say anything about what’s inside this book, I want to acknowledge the cover. I think it’s extremely well done, and it makes me wish that the overall quality inside the book matched the quality on the outside of the book… but it doesn’t. That being said, this issue was better than I expected, and a slight step up from last week… but it’s still bad. Thank God it’s the last issue… except for that pesky Annual in two weeks… Then, thankfully, this book will come to a close!

Andreyko, in an effort to create multiple plots and storylines, has essentially left himself with a “mess” to clean up. I mean, let’s be honest, the only plot he’s actually closed out, is the one that wasn’t even his to begin with (This Blood Runs Thick). Wolfspider is still at large from his first arc. Nothing really happened concerning Nocturna in the second arc – she just started dating Kate, and it bled into the current arc with the Unknowns… I fully expected this issue to resolve the current plot before addressing any of the lingering storylines, and then wrap up the book as a whole in the Annual. Surprisingly, this issue kept the conflict with Morgaine on the back-burner, and mainly focused on the relationships of Kate, Nocturna, and Alice.

Nocturna has been influencing Kate through a type of mind control throughout the last couple of issues, and Kate is finally piecing this realization together – though she’s not completely sure of the extent of her actions while misguided by Nocturna. I was really starting to wonder if Kate was actually turning into a “vampire,” or if it was just Nocturna’s mental influence. I’m happy to see it was the latter. I wasn’t prepared to bring Buffy and Angel (or Bella and Edward if you’re in that crowd) into this world… not yet anyway. It doesn’t explain why Kate suddenly started growing fangs when influenced, but I honestly didn’t expect that much from this team.

I typically hate when Andreyko tries to write anything “emotional” – and if I’m being honest, I wasn’t a fan of much of the interaction in this issue either – but he did manage to surprise me with a decent moment. Alice deserves the credit for getting Kate to “snap out of it,” and see Nocturna for what she really is. While I found the interaction to be melodramatic, witnessing Kate come to terms with what she did while under Nocturna’s control felt pretty special.  Alice is quick to let Kate know that Nocturna couldn’t make Kate do things should wouldn’t do out of her own free will. And thus, Andreyko surprised me with a nice moment as Kate came to terms with the reality that she’s done things that she couldn’t see herself doing, and it’s unsettling for her. I was shocked that there was even an ounce of emotional depth! Unfortunately, this was pretty much the only high point of the issue.

Once you get past the Maury-esque relationship drama, the rest of the book is essentially summed up with a physical altercation between Kate, Nocturna, and Alice. It’s not terrible, but it’s far from great. We also check in with each of the members of the Unknown as they search for Morgaine, with the last panel of the book leaving me with nothing but dread and angst for the upcoming Annual.

Potential spoilers below.

The Good: For me, the fact that we didn’t have to sit through a full issue of Morgaine was a major positive! It’s a weak story, and a terrible way to close this book!

 

The Bad: Morgaine was barely in this book!!! That means we’re going to be forced to endure an oversized issue of space and ancient monsters… F. My. Life.

The rhymes and riddles. Andreyko has unpleasantly shoved Etrigan’s dialogue down our throats with his rhymes for the past few months, and now we have the addition of Alice as well… Alice was particularly a pain to read here because she hasn’t quoted Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland much at all since her return. But in this issue, she’s gone full-on crazy, citing the book on numerous occasions. But instead of being slightly relevant to whatever’s being discussed, it’s almost as if Andreyko suddenly remembered that she would quote this book at times, grabbed a copy of it, and just threw random quotes in random places. It’s really distracting, unnecessary, and feels unnatural to this reformed character. I mean, even when Alice was CRAZY, she wasn’t even this annoying. Lesson of the issue: Andreyko should stay away from any type of rhyming or whimsical dialogue. It only makes his weaknesses that much more apparent.

 

The Art: It’s the same problem as it has been… Blobby looking people, with little to no detail. I’m going to keep this brief for the sake of not sounding like a broken record from month to month. But to bring things full circle, I’ve provided some images of the original art from the old creative team to compare it to Jeanty’s less than spectacular attempts.

Spoiler

Let’s take a moment to reflect on the good ol’ days!

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And now lets look at how we’re closing out this book…

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Recommended if:

  • You’re a fan of Alice.
  • You’ve been waiting for Nocturna to get what’s coming to her.
  • You’re a loyalist and going down with the ship.

 

Overall: Andreyko has literally driven this book so far into the ground that its relevance is non-existent. It’s a shame too considering how much praise and potential this book used to carry.

SCORE: 4/10