It’s an exciting week for Batwoman fans: A new TV series has been announced and a popular love interest is back in Kate’s life in the pages of Batwoman #17!
That’s right; GCPD officer Renee Montoya, the other breakout character from Batman: The Animated Series returns, and long-time readers will be glad to hear that her pre-Rebirth history with Kate remains part of continuity. If their story is allowed to continue after the series finale next month, this feels like a relationship that could develop into something special (again), pushing the book in a new direction. Safiyah is Kate’s Talia Al Ghul, a mysterious femme fatale; maybe Renee could be her Selina Kyle and they could fight crime together (speaking of characters who were supposed to marry but didn’t, what ever happened to Kate’s marriage to Maggie Sawyer?). Anyway, Renee is back and I enjoyed her tough-but-flirty characterisation.
Her presence also helps Kate finally shrug off her demons. Issue #17 feels like a fresh start for Batwoman as she settles into a new life in Gotham (in what appears to be the penthouse atop the Wayne Foundation Building that Bruce moved into in the late 60’s). She even goes all Dick Grayson during a fight scene and banters with her opponent, which I can’t imagine her doing a few months ago when she was morose and riddled with self-doubt.
She also has a new case to occupy her and this time it isn’t an epic that crumbles under the weight of expectation. This straightforward two-parter centres around the Clock King (another character a lot of fans first met in Batman: The Animated Series, though unlike Renee he wasn’t created for the show) and though the theme of time is drilled into the reader excessively (the word ‘time’ appears 22 times this issue), I really enjoyed Bennett’s innovative new angle on Batman’s old time-obsessed adversary.
I also appreciated the flow and cadence of the book- a pre-credits scene, a moment of calm in which we find out what’s happened in Kate’s life since issue #16, then the action begins again and the pattern repeats for the rest of the issue. This has to be the most balanced, intriguing issue of Batwoman since K. Perkins’ Professor Pyg story in issue #11.
- I was pleasantly surprised to see Bennett tying up loose ends while still managing to tell a new story. I thought we’d seen the last of Julia Pennyworth and Safiyah but both turn up and their discussions with Kate are also efficiently used to demonstrate how our hero has changed since the last arc.
- A new piece of technology is introduced this issue (at least, I’ve never seen it before); what seems to be a supercomputer shaped like a brain, which digests a cog Kate gives it and in turn provides her with a clue to her enemy in the form of a pocket-watch. Its as daft and convenient as it sounds; it reminds me of Batman: The Movie (1966), in which the caped crusader concludes he was attacked by Catwoman because he was set upon at sea, and ‘sea’ sounds like ‘C,’ and ‘Catwoman’ begins with a ‘C.’
- I don’t like the idea of Batman giving Batwoman homework, as he does this issue. She doesn’t work for him! She’s her own woman!
- Does Batwoman reference sequoias so much because they’re redwoods and Kate is a redhead? Or there another, more sensible reason? Answers on the back of a postcard please.
- I was reading the issue for a third time before I noticed that half the room in the picture above is pink and the other half is blue- Kate’s keeping Beth behind glass!
Blanco has a mercurial style; I often have to check the credits to make sure it’s him. As you can see from the examples above, his art ranges from rough to sublime, but rest assured it’s mostly the latter. The style also varies occasionally, with some sections looking almost like they’ve been painted. Rauch continues to provide his distinctive, slightly faded colour palette, which I think works better for flashbacks- in the present, I prefer Kate’s hair to be bright red, not the pink colour Sauvage gave it in Bombshells. Readers are spoilt for choice when selecting a cover this month; Panosian’s ethereal Batwoman in a vampiric Theda Bara/Lily Munster pose, complete with clock motif, or Michael Cho’s motorcycle-riding Batwoman echoing last issue’s chase and the first appearance of Kathy Kane in Detective Comics #233.
- You like short, dynamic story arcs.
- You want to find out what’s going on in Kate’s life in the aftermath of ‘The Fall of the House of Kane’
- You like to see classic characters used well.
Overall: Bennett makes an excellent case for Batwoman to continue beyond August 2018 with overdue character development and an exciting, well-paced new storyline.