Following the events that take place in Batwoman, the CW show, the heroes square off against Clayface, try to balance work with romance and bring Batwoman’s chosen family back together. Wayne enterprise is no longer in service to the Bat family but that doesn’t stop Batwoman and the gang from fighting crime and working with powerful allies like Lena Luthor (yeah, that kind of Luthor).
The first issue of this mini-series has an immediate crutch that is visible from the moment your eyes rest on the overly blocky chunk of text that tries to make the reader feel caught up with the story without realizing how utterly confusing it comes across as. The worst part is that this issue has several moments where the story takes a break to recount the events of the show. Sometimes in a way that makes sense and other times very clumsily, like the constant mentioning of characters that aren’t actually present in this issue. If this is the first issue of a mini-series then even if it’s tied to a TV show, it should be able to stand on its own, which it does for the most part. So why bother giving us so much clumsy exposition?
I do enjoy the little glimpses we get of the characters in their own heads and how they feel about the people around them. Each character feels weighed down by their past and their collective responsibilities and the comic does a good job of showcasing this. However I feel like there are also too many stories going on at the same time and as much as I appreciate the little breather at the end with the date gone wrong I’m not sure it was necessary to have Batwoman and Luke as they talk about how Clayface works. The pages where Batwoman and Luke are talking about Clayface feel really overcrowded with text and there’s barely any insight into what kind of character they are, how they react to things is just by giving the reader information instead of giving us their version of the information.
The subplot involving Lena Luthor and Wayne Enterprises works great overall. They allow us to have a breather between Clayface being introduced and Clayface’s second fight scene while the story that underpins this subplot (Batwoman being banned from Wayne Enterprises) meshes well with the conversation that the two women are having. This is in stark contrast to the conversation they have about the multiple worlds that exist where nothing feels connected to what the characters are doing and a bunch of stuff is just thrown at our face without any real reason. Even if you want to justify that conversation as some sort of foreshadowing the clumsiness and over the top exposition does not make me intrigued whatsoever with how this is all going to become relevant later.
The panel compositions in this issue feel pretty bland with some neat tricks here and there to make it interesting. Clayton Henry added this vine in many pages that cleverly creates a link to Poison Ivy and becomes a satisfying reward for readers who might’ve missed it the first time they skim through the pages. There isn’t much for me to be drawn into when it comes to the depiction of realistic people in this comic but any time Clayface shows up you are in for an absolute treat. The artists made sure to have Clayface be used in really creative ways and his presence is also a dark contrast to the general bright colors of this issue. The light colors by Marcelo Maiolo also make the depictions of actions feel really bouncy and dynamic, very clear to understand and pleasing to the eye. Maiolo did a great job on this one and the balance of light and darkness is great as it accentuates the art style and brings it to life.
That is, when the art in this comic isn’t being completely gobbled up by the lettering. The lettering in this comic isn’t terrible but there are certain pages that I would definitely classify as such. There are a couple pages where I feel like there is more space for speech bubbles than anything else. This isn’t a tv-show where a sentence takes up a fraction of your runtime, it’s a comic book and each word takes up valuable space for visual storytelling. I’ve already talked about the mixed bag that is the quality of the characters’ dialogues but when it takes up half the page on a good day then just throw away the whole bag for all I care. There are some exceptions and usually the panels that are the most visually stunning are relatively respected by the lettering, allowing us to see what’s going on and take the time to admire the art. This comic isn’t even overcrowded with dialogue by any means, there are more than a few pages where dialogue is sparse and the bubbles fit snugly with the characters. But when you have too much dialogue then the lettering by Tom Napolitano is unable to handle it and just resorts to shoving it wherever it fits within the panel, overshadowing the art and making me lose track of the story.
Which is a shame because I actually like the way Batwoman’s inner thoughts are depicted and I feel like certain moments like “buckle up” are perfectly restrained to add to the impact of the scene. Maybe if the dialogue had a couple more rounds on the cutting board the lettering would’ve been perfect, but for now, it just left a bad taste in my mouth.
- The Batwoman CW show left you on the edge
- You want to see some insane Clayface action
- Exploring the lives of characters outside of their crime-fighting intrigues you
The fact that they had to tie this first issue to so many different plot points in the CW show was a real blow to the pacing, just like the over the top dialogue that barely fits the pages it’s in. The character dynamics are fun and fluid when they relate to the narrative of the comic or just show us more about the lives and inner thoughts of the characters themselves but this isn’t super consistent. I am in love with the colors of this comic and certain pages and panels have definitely stood out to me while the overall composition remains relatively solid.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.