Review: Batwoman #5 by J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman

In a new relationship, you are so enthralled at the beginning of the relationship. Everything is wonderful because you are discovering new things. She introduces you to music you haven’t heard before; Or maybe he takes you to places you have never gone; Or maybe you just are enjoying her physical beauty; Or maybe his personality is completely different than anyone you’ve ever dated.

And then, after a short period of time, usually after a couple of months or so, something happens.

That something isn’t necessarily that bad: a small disagreement, a drop in thoughtfulness, or even a reminder that they are human. 1 He or she isn’t the perfect complement to you. And you start to notice flaws and things that bother you. The “newness” is over. It reminds you that this is really no different than any other relationship you’ve been in.

This is when the relationship truly begins, when the newness has faded away.

Well, in the DCnU, the newness is fading away. Up until now, titles like Batwoman were basically limited series in an ongoing title format. Most comic book readers will stay on a comic book through the first story arc. But when the arc ends, then they determine whether the overall package is worth it.

This is when the ongoing series really begins.

Batwoman #5: Hydrology – 5: Evapotranspiration

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer and Artist: J.H. Williams
Writer: W. Haden Blackman
Release Date: 01/11/2012
Cover Price: $2.99
Review: Digital Copy (From Comixology)

In the previous issues of Batwoman, Kate Kane has been investigating the mystery of La Llorona who has been abducting children throughout Gotham, while Cameron Chase and the DEO are investigating her. Kate and Gotham City Police Detective Maggie Sawyer spend a night of passion together. Bette Kane goes off on her own as Flamebird, and finds La Llorona while fighting a street gang. Bette is attacked by Pajarito, who has a hook for a hand, who brutalizes her and puts her in critical condition. Batwoman investigates La Llorona who is connected to a woman named Maria, who was drinking while her children drowned while playing in an abandoned boathouse. Maria then killed herself due to guilt. Chase and the DEO team find Flamebird, and are able to determine that she is Batwoman’s partner, and Chase is able to get Bette to tell her that Kate Kane is a family member.

Synopsis

  • After meditating, Batwoman returns to the boathouse to confront Maria, La Llorona. Maria shows Kate what happened to her, and evokes the images of Kate’s sister.
  • Kate is able to resist the despair offered by La Llorona, and sets the boathouse on fire to free Maria, who tells her that Medusa made her what she is, and they have the children.
  • Having discovered who she is, Mr. Bones and Chase confront Kate in her apartment, and threaten to jail her father in order to coerce her to join the DEO to investigate and stop Medusa.
  • At the hospital visiting Bette, Batman confronts Kate telling her that she needs to be careful, or the DEO will put her against Batman.
  • Batwoman visits the family from the first issue, whose children were abducted, and promises to bring them back if they are alive.

Questions and Answers (optional)

A:    Medusa is secretly behind La Llorona, and has abducted several children.

A:    Kate’s identity is revealed to the DEO, and she has now become an agent working for them.

Q:     What does Medusa want with children from Gotham?

Analysis

This comic is decent enough, but as a long standing comic book fan, it is the art that brings me back each month. There isn’t that much interesting about Kate Kane that makes me want to read more about her, and the plots, so far, have been half decent. Without the artwork, it would be very easy to drop this book. To that end:

The first page of this comic where Kate is meditating, showing the images of her focus points, while her origin blurb is written around each scene is really really well done. Definitely one of my favorite pages of comic book art I’ve seen recently. Expertly done by J.H. Williams and perfectly defines who Kate Kane is on one single page. I could show this page to anyone, and they would know everything they need to know about the character.

I must say that I am impressed. I’ve never heard the word, Evapotranspiration, which was used in the title. I haven’t had to look up a word from a comic book title since the word, Guignol. 2

I was really disappointed in the DEO hires Kate Kane plotline. This plot has been used so much that it’s almost insulting to see it here. I mean this is a cheesy, brainless, action adventure show on the USA network. With the freedoms you see in the DC Universe, to go this route seems way too easy.

I found it a huge jump in logic, for Kate to go from the boathouse is where Maria’s children drowned, to that burning the boathouse will dispel La Llorona. Just seemed an easy plot contrivance.

Is there any doubt in ANY one’s mind that Medusa is going to be connected to the corruption of Kate’s sister? If you doubt this, you need to go back to Easy Comic Book Contrivances 101.

And WHEN (not if) this ends up being the case, there is a real danger in this book. I know that I’m not a fan of comic books where there is a single focus/single enemy to deal with. I think people read ongoing comic book series for overall story arcs and not one where every episode is connected to a single villain and a single focus. I don’t care for television shows or comic books that do this.

This may be a digital comic issue, but all of the double-page spreads at the beginning of the issue made the comic book seem much smaller. I got to the last page, and my comment to myself was “That’s all?”

This issue was fine, well done and not complicated. The series has done enough to make me want to continue reading it, and the artwork is really superb. But, as of now, I can easily see me dropping the title if it doesn’t take a tact that is cleverer. It is really beautiful, and it is good, but there are plenty of well-drawn interesting comic books out there. This book has REAL potential, and maybe it will get there. But at this moment, I am doubtful, which I am sorry to say.

Verdict

As this is an opening story arc for a “newish” character, I guess it makes sense to tie up most of the loose ends and have a “setting of the table” for the comic book series going forward. But the package seems a little too neat and tidy for my tastes. Nothing that will stop me from reading more, though.

Overall Grade: 7.0 (Well done, but wrapped up a little too neatly)

Series Grade: B

Footnotes

1 – If a relationship can survive the first time either of you passes gas, you’re usually pretty good. That is until you decide to decorate a Christmas tree together.

2 – Kudos to anyone if they know what series that made me look this up from.

 

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