J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman may sound like mildly pretentious names, but given how stunning their work on Batwoman is, they've earned a bit of snoot.
It's true, they've had a lot more lead time than anyone else did with the New 52 relaunch, and it doesn't look like they've changed much of anything continuity-wise, but Batwoman just feels so far above and beyond everything else going on in the New 52 that it doesn't even feel like it's a part of it. Probably because it wasn't designed that way, and thus the editorial muddling isn't as intense. But Williams and Blackman have crafted a work of art that can't help but get us interested in a character we could easily have dismissed.
Kate Kane is currently in the process of juggling a million things. 1. training her cousin and aspiring sidekick Bette Kane, former Titan Flamebird, who keeps needling her about her relationship with her father. 2. a budding relationship with Detective Maggie Sawyer of the Gotham City Police Department, whom she may or may not be using for information to help with her Batwork. 3. Cameron Chase of the DEO hunting her down and harassing Sawyer about it, apparently out of some kind of hateful vendetta. 4. pondering Batman's offer to join Batman Inc., which she thinks is either a genius move or an insane idea. 5. tracking down this mysterious spectral Weeping Woman, who seems to be murdering children by drowning them on land. That's a lot of business.
It takes either a really good comic or a really bad comic to make one gush about the layouts, but in this case, it's all the former. Williams' art is endlessly creative with how it presents each page, always giving us something new and interesting to look at, which is really what you want out of a comic book. Williams and Blackman are also writing a character wearing a bat but operating independently of Batman, and slowly but surely we're seeing why she's necessary and why she works. Batgirl is firmly in the family, while Batwoman is her own unique entity, even if they were both inspired by Batman's example.
It's already a pretty hefty web of intrigue being woven here, and with art this beautiful and ideas this intriguing, we have to cross our fingers and hope that enough people are noticing, and this is going to be one of the New 52 that lasts a long, long time. The only quibble is this 'look, Kate, you're the only person in the world with this ashen-alabaster skin, and Batwoman has it, too, along with the same shade of shock red hair.' Which is likely just an artistic choice to make her stand out to the reader, but still, it has a feeling of Nightwing, where if you're trying to kill Dick Grayson and fail, then a minute later, a guy with the same exact build and look in a domino mask comes after you – he's not Dick's protector, he's Dick. But hey, comic books. That's the stuff you take with salt grains.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 9.9/10