The Many Arms of Death may be behind us, but as predicted, Marguerite Bennett and James Tynion IV remind us in “Blinding” that Kate’s experiences on Coryana will continue to shape her journey throughout this new incarnation.

In a way, it feels strange to be having this interlude about Kate’s rescue by Safiyah and her integration into the “family” on the island so late in the game. A lot of what we see here in this issue is stuff we inferred from the previous storyline–it was either hinted at or even stated in dialogue. We get some new information and there are beats that are interesting to see actualized, but at the same time this feels mostly like emotional filler.

Given the serial nature of comic books, I don’t necessarily have a problem with that–especially because it’s satisfying for what it is–but again, i do wonder at the timing of it. Would the previous story arc been rendered radically different if this flashback narrative had been woven through it? Would it have had more resonance? Or, perhaps more to the point, would this story have been more impactful in the heat of the unveiling of Safiyah’s plans. Has its impact been watered by having been parsed out this way.

For that reason I call it filler for the most part. It’s background that’s nice to have and it’s beautifully rendered and I enjoyed the arc of it, but I don’t know whether we needed a whole comic book set aside for it.

Even though it does have lots of nice exchanges

Seeing the contentious relationship with Tahani from the start is an interesting little window in this world. I don’t know if it really adds much to the relationship we saw already, but again, actualizing it in a few well-constructed scenes, it does add some depth to the characters and their bitter triangle. Knowing we are likely to revisit these ghosts from Kate’s past makes this issue a good seasoning for what hopefully will be a very tasty sauce later on.

It’s all Kate in this issue too, by the way. While she is recuperating on the island and integrating with the locals (and falling in love with Safiyah), her Bat persona is dormant. The art here is so compelling and the story bears you along ably enough that frankly, I didn’t even miss the costume. And this is something lots of comic books lack. When was the last time we spent any real time with Bruce Wayne? People could argue there is no such person. That Wayne is the persona and Batman is the real man. But that’s not terribly interesting to me personally. I like knowing there are real people under the mask and Bennett and Tynion have done a great job making Kate herself just as interesting (if not more so) than her costumed alter-ego. She has complex relationships outside of being a superhero and those interactions are just as engaging as her fighting off armies of villains.

Stephanie Hans steps in on full art duties for this issue and her work is quite lovely! It’s looser than Epting’s work, but a marvelous choice for an interlude that is all flashback. The softness of her lines makes Coryanna and its inhabitants dreamlike and exotic, but the bold use of colors ties into the overall look of the title so far. Hans renders her faces full of expression and her modeling on the characters is excellent.

And silent moments like this are priceless

This comic is definitely on a slow burn and some have argued that without the amazing art it wouldn’t be able to fly. I’m not sure I agree with that entirely, though the art is a ginormous plus. For me, I’m already reading well outside my preferred genre on so many levels, but it’s keeping me engaged, so that says something.

I am also glad that this book isn’t really heavily pushing any agendas. I really have a low tolerance for that sort of thing in what I consider a largely disposable medium. I don’t mind something that is occasionally preachy about loving our neighbors or just generally not being a jerk, but I start to get fussy the instant it gets political. Batwoman is a title that could easily cross that line on a lot of levels, but it hasn’t yet and for that I’m very grateful.

Recommended If…

  • You like a slow burn romance–even knowing it’s all going to end badly.
  • You prefer your comic book art to be sumptuous. Hans is full of win!
  • You’re okay with a whole issue of Kate without her alter-Bat-ego.

Overall

If you were wondering what happened between Kate Kane and Safiyah on Coryana that led up to the events of the Many Arms of Death storyline, Marguerite Bennett and James Tynion IV will fill you in for an issue. It’s a nice character study, but hard to tell whether what little additional information we’re provided here will add much to the overall throughline of Batwoman’s rebirth. Stephanie Hans’ artwork, meanwhile, is quite gorgeous and makes the ride worth taking, even if the scenery is already well-trod by the story that came before this.

SCORE: 7/10