Marguerite Bennett’s Batwoman fever dream not only continues, but takes it up a notch. With the Scarecrow fully working his chemicals on an imprisoned Kate, we see her disturbing memories of the past begin to succumb to the realm of full-blown nightmares.

In terms of advancing the story, we’re starting to get some hints as to what’s going on–or at least a glimpse at the larger conspiracy at play. Still not a lot of information about Safiyah, who remains at the center of this mystery: unattainable and unknowable for the most part. The Many Hands of Death also continue to loom large, but frankly they have been looming for eight issues now and I feel like we need to start getting more concrete information to work with: Bennett is dragging this out a bit too long now.

I’m okay with a slower pace, more methodical story-building, and even a glacial series of reveals toward a fantastic finale, but I’m starting to not feel very confident in this narrative. It just seems to meander, adding in more and more elements without resolving or actually revealing much along the way and I don’t feel like the additional elements are providing much more than filler to the main arc (as I marginally understand it).

This is all kinds of “Night on Bald Mountain” cool

I love the Scarecrow and I think he’s being generally well-used here, but I think he’s ultimately dismissable to the throughline and that’s frustrating. When did Scarecrow become this for-hire boogeyman? Doesn’t he ever have any agendas of his own? Is this negative fallout under the influence of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy because he happened to be working for Ras Al Ghul in that?

Either way, Scarecrow is delightfully creepy in this. He share with us the story of Perillos of Athens and his invention o–and eventual death by–the torture device known as the Brazen Bull (which is historically true, by the way).

Frankly, I would be more interested in Scarecrow having some beef with Kate and orchestrating all this than this elusive Many Hands of Death–who we really need to see more of at this point.

But this is what we have: Colony Prime, a character created by James Tynion IV and Marguerite Bennett last spring (making his premiere in Detective Comics #948), being forced to team-up with Batwoman.  He’s about as interesting as a well-healed scab–yet another armored jarhead with a smart mouth. His contribution here is being cast as some kind of frenemy who also has been caged by the MHD and now they must work together to…to…

*

Sorry, I might have nodded off there for a moment. When I went back to look at Brandon’s review of this book, I noticed her felt similarly apathetic, so Colony Prime hasn’t developed into anything interesting since we last saw him and that’s kind of disappointing.

I wish I could say this panel made sense in context of the story

Fernando Blanco’s work on this issue feels a little less choppy than the last one: the action is more fluid and panel-to-panel is just tracks with more clarity (in spite of the nightmare sequences being–as nightmares typically are–rather disjointed and lacking full context). There is also some imagery in particular that is very striking (like Batwoman on the bone horse above).

If I can grouse about Colony Prime one more time, though, I have to say it felt like his face went from one model to another panel-to-panel. And many of his expressions were goofy: wide-eyed and dopey-looking as if he’d landed here straight from Riverdale.

Later on, a gauntlet-style landscape full of what appears to be some kind of sim technology was, for me, a lot less impressive (and also narratively kind of dumb). But I’m going to refrain from passing much more judgment on that piece as we have yet to comprehend quite how it’s supposed to work and what its purpose in the story is.

Recommended If…

  • You enjoy a creepy evening with the Scarecrow; we need to do a study to determine whether this character is only ever invoked to sort of align with the time around Halloween.
  • Kate Kane attempting to fight her way out of a bizarre imprisonment sounds like an interesting challenge.

Overall

I feel like this story is spinning its wheels a bit as it attempts to get traction between Kate’s intimate personal drama back on Coryana and the overarching vast conspiracy of the Many Hands of Death. And rather than building on the connections between these two things and advancing the story, this continues to feel like a side-mission or detour. Perhaps we’ll get more meat with our potatoes in the next issue now that Batwoman has a (sort of) new ally in Colony Prime.

SCORE: 6/10