In Review: Batwoman #1

An outstanding beginning that will have me returning for the next installment. Recommended.

The covers: A trio of covers to collect for this new ongoing series with this heroine. Interior artist Steve Epting does the Regular cover and it looks like a poster for a movie. The largest image is Batwoman holding her cape as she leaps down. To her right are three characters, with only one I can identify: Julia Pennyworth is the one in the tuxedo. Istanbul is shown just below the characters, while at the bottom center is the issue’s unnamed antagonist. She looks terrific. Just when you think there’s nothing left in designing characters, one appears that’s instantly striking, and this individual certainly is. To Batwoman’s left is a bust shot of Batman, whose name and image Katherine Kane appropriated. I love this cover. The Variant by J.G. Jones is also outstanding. This has a profile bust of the title character, with her image cut into panels that shows her dressed to the nines in a suit, the silhouette of a screaming man that’s within the silhouette of a screaming beast, Istanbul, the nameless antagonist, a giant eyeball, and a syringe containing a red liquid. Several bats are flying to the left of this conglomeration, while below Batwoman is speeding off in the same direction on a motorcycle. Just behind the cycle are three knives. This looks great and would word as a movie poster or cover to a pulp novel. The coloring makes this pop with it being done in black, white, gray, and a dynamic red. The final cover is a Blank Sketch Variant. Something different about this cover was that the copy I purchased was just stapled on top of the Regular cover. Normally when I buy a blank sketch cover, it’s just the blank cover, so I couldn’t pass on this copy since it was a two-for-one as far as I was concerned. Overall grades: Regular A+, Variant A, and Variant Sketch A

The story: Confession before review: I know practically nothing about this character. I tried to read the last series she stared in and gave up after the initial offering. I’ve followed her adventures more in DC Bombshells than in her appearances in the regular DC Universe. I also do not follow any other Batbooks. I’m giving her another try because it’s the first issue and Marguerite Bennett co-wrote it. I’ve enjoyed her works in the last year, so her attachment to this title in enough to spark my interest. I enjoyed this book. The setting is the first surprise of this series: Kapalicarsi, Istanbul. A man takes a syringe from his backpack and is just about to inject himself while standing in this grand bazaar when someone behind him says, “Hey, stranger.” Leaping down upon the man, Batwoman keeps him from injecting himself. Her narration states she’s been asked by Batman to track down “the last seller of the monster venom on the international black market” and the trail has led her here. The man is knocked down, but he rights himself quickly to shoot the liquid into a vein. His body begins to convulse, his clothes rip, and faster than one can say “Bruce Banner”, he’s changed into a gigantic green creature. He/It stares down the heroine who touches the transmitter in her ear. “Ahhh. Tuexedo One–?!” This is a call for assistance to Julia Pennyworth, who’s monitoring the hero aboard the motoryacht, Sequoia, their base, which is docked in Eminonu Harbor. Bennet co-writes this book with James Tynion IV and they do a lot very smoothly. The action against the beast is good, with a surprising climax and the introduction of a new antagonist. How the latter character exits the setting was outstanding. There’s a good tour of the Sequoia to show the reader what resources Kate has. There’s also a welcome bit of Bat-envy that’s addressed, giving Kate’s character a little twist. There’s a three paged flashback which ties directly into the pages that follows as Kate goes to stop the flow of the drug. This story hit all the right marks for me and I’ll definitely be back next week. Overall grade: A

The art: I’ve been a fan of Steve Epting’s work for a while, so I was pleased to see he was the artist on this book. He brings a good sense of reality to the visuals, even if there is a big monster stirring up trouble on several pages. The first page sets things magnificently in the bazaar, with the second page’s full splash of Batwoman launching herself into the series looking spectacular. The reveal of the monster on Page 4 is good, with it fitting in with the environment and the characters well. The layout of 6 and 7 is composed of several titled panels, emphasizing the action that’s occurring. The layout returns to a more conventional format when the battle ends on 8, and the character shown in the final two panels is fantastic. This character says nothing, leaving Epting to create this individual solely with his visuals and it’s awesome. This is the best introduction of a new antagonist I’ve seen in quite some time. The tour of the Sequoia is good, with the first and second panels on 11 excellent — the layout of this setting is great. Three pages of flashbacks are set apart from the rest of the book with large borders between panels, allowing a reader to focus on each panel like it was a chapter in a book. These three pages build to a dramatic full paged splash on 17 which returns the action back to the present. The details on this page with the setting are superb. The final page of the book is also a full paged splash, but conveys an entirely different sense of drama. Epting is outstanding with his realistic visuals, even with the most fantastic of stories, and he’s at the top of his game with this book. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Jeromy Cox’s coloring on this book is the perfect match for the visuals. The first page has a dark tans and other earth tones to set the book in the bazaar, which provides the perfect introductory blast of red into the book when Batwoman enters. The monstrous form the man assumes is not a cliche comic book green, but a weathered green that seems absolutely real. The sound the monster makes that appears above his head is a bright red that seems to echo off the page. The second panel on 8 has a creepy luminescent yellow for the background, making the action of the panel come off as sick — and it is. Within the Sequoia everything is metallic colored, emphasizing the reader to the futuristic qualities of what’s shown. The flashback pages, in addition to their layout, are set apart from the rest of the book by the colors, which are shades of black and white, with only Kate’s red hair or lips lighting a scene. A beautiful blue sky compliments the final setting beautifully and foreshadowing the issue’s end. Outstanding work on every page. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, narration, dialogue, and transmissions (all three are the same font), the story’s title, the issue’s credit, sounds, weakened speech, and the tease for next issue are by Deron Bennett. I wasn’t pleased to see that the narration, dialogue, and some transmissions are differentiated from each other by the shape of their balloons and coloring. They really should have their own font, as they’re different forms of communication. Everything else is fine, but I would prefer to see different fonts. Overall grade: B

The final line: An outstanding beginning that will have me returning for the next installment. The story sets the premise quickly and smoothly, while the visuals are top of the line. I hope this team remains on this series for a long time. Recommended. Overall grade: A-

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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