Batwoman Comic, Issues 1-4 (English)

December 15th, 2011

As a present for being a good girl all year and working hard at my three jobs, I bought myself a tablet as a replacement travel computer. Objecting as I do to Apple’s content-censoring decisions, I chose a Samsung Galaxy Tablet, which is now named Tabibito.

I spend the first few days getting the hang of the interface, downloading a few apps and rearranging the screen the way I like it. You know, normal stuff. Once I got myself up and running, I loaded up with a bunch of books – first things first. (Over My Dead Body by Nero Wolfe and The Calculus Diaries by Jennifer Ouellette, in case you care.) Then I decided that, if I had the chance, I’d try my hand at reading Batwoman as a digital download.

As I’ve said before, I never was a DC comic reader. And I’ve been out of American comics for a very long time now. This was as much a way to test out the tablet as to read the comic, but what the heck, while I went through all the steps, I might as well get a review out of it. ^_^

Comixology punted me to the DC app which was a no-brainer to download. In fact, all the downloading so far has been so painless, I kind of don’t really believe it’s working until I try it out. Obviously, I had to register to buy and download.

I found Batwoman, Issues 1-4 with a simple search and downloading was maybe two or three clicks. Overall, the app issue was simple, straightforward and painless.

Opening up Batwoman, Issue 1, I knew going into it, the art was very detailed, and the panel structure was crazy paving. The cover and those few pages that were laid out in regular panel format looked absolutely breathtaking. Most of the book, however, is 2-page layouts with irregularly shaped panels (including one pretentious Bat-logo shaped layout which made me stabby.) These presented no problem and gave me a chance to test out resizing, and layout on the Galaxy. Both get top marks from me – there was great sensitivity to touch, I rarely had to fix a resize and it was very intuitive. Layout on the tablet was instant, from landscape to portrait with no fuss.

Story-wise, this arc instantly held together better than that in Elegy, although there still are a few holes. Kate Kane, socialite and wastrel, is out training with Bette Kane, her cousin and sidekick, Flamebird. Kate’s manner is imperious, commanding Bette with little context. Bette is impetuous and the setup was foreshadowed pretty heavily. Worse, later on Batman comes around to warn Kate to keep Bette under wraps. Ow ow ow! Keep that foreshadowing stick off my head!

Kate is apparently seeing Detective Maggie Sawyer who, as a smart, competent cop, was the only other really big hole in the story so far. That Sawyer hasn’t even vaguely considered that Kate might possibly be Batwoman strikes me as strange. Their relationship is pretty decent and I have no qualms about them together, except for the one thing I really can’t get past. Kate’s hair is unnaturally red (which I approve of) but she has a really ugly hairdo. And her skin is unnaturally white. With that hair and that skin, I can’t help but think that making love to her would be like making love to Ronald McDonald. Ick.

The badguy is a mythic watery temptress that allows for some very lovely visuals, although succubus-esque behavior of evil females is really tired.

In Volume 4, the foreshadowing stick lands hard and the thing that Kate was warned to not let happen happens. Which brings me to the only really major issue I had with the series. In Volume 4, there is a very beautifully drawn sex scene between Maggie and Kate. In black and white, it’s artistic, understated and erotic without being porn-y. Unfortunately, it floats above a very unappealingly rape-ish assault on Flamebird. The action isn’t rape-like at all, but the language is. I realize this was meant to be ironic, but it really just came off as a cheap shot.

Nonetheless, the sex scene itself was really nice. I liked Maggie more after volume 4 than I did when I first saw her in Volume 1, and seeing that she really cares for Kate made them completely work for me as a couple.


Art – 9
Story – 7 (needs time to develop)
Characters – 7 (same, not sure if I can like them yet)
Lesbian – 10
Service – 7 (fair amount of T&A pandering)
Tablet reading experience – 6 not quite as natural as paper

Overall – 7 I’m willing to give it time.

I still am not a fan of the super-saturated colors of modern comics, and really am distressed by Kate’s skin tone, but other than that, I have to say that Batwoman, so far, is pretty good.

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11 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is probably what pisses me off most about comics. Supporting characters don’t exist just to be killed off! I mean, if you’re just going to kill her by issue 4 then WHY EVEN BOTHER WASTING TIME INTRODUCING HER IN THE FIRST PLACE?

  2. Atarun says:

    @Anonymous: gee, thanks for the spoiler… ( ̄□ ̄#)

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m going to give this a try, found it on the comiXology page. Curse you for the “Ronald McDonald” line, now I’ll have to try hard to remove that from my brain while I read these, lol.

  4. @Anonymous – luckily the sex is rendered artfully in black and white…you’ll be able to put it aside for those pages.

    Let me know what you think when you’ve read it.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I had written off western comics long ago so this is interesting, and enough to bother with the tablet. I still don’t like the mannequin faces and lack of emotions in comics that are present in manga but oh well. As far as the T&A, the boys get their own dose of body dysmorphia with the hyper masculinized impossible physiques with distorted anatomy and muscles that don’t and cant exist even on some of the purely human characters. Anyway, even if this lasts only as a mini-series for DC I hope they handle and finish it in a non-offensive manner. But hey, at least it’s not a Champion Red comic so I guess we win.

  6. @Anonymous – By T&A service I really mean weird angles designed to force us to look at tits or ass, not really absurdly weird proportions. Like seeing Batwoman leave a room by staring at her ass closely, while her cape bizarrely heads in some other direction. Nothing that’s not ignorable.

    You are so right, this is definitely not a Champion Red comic, or even a DC version of same. There’s some dressing/undressing, the above T&A and a brokeback position or two, but compared with, say, what DC did with Starfire, definitely not CR level at all.

  7. Bob says:

    What, apart from relaunching Kate Kane aka Batwoman as a lesbian, caught my interest, was primarily the art by Williams. I love how it’s influenced by art deco, and the way the faces are drawn, with this 1940ies touch to them. However, it seems to me that DC has long ago found a common denominator to their heroines and dialogues which leaves some, but not a lot, leeway for authors. The tone of the dialogues in “Outsiders”, “Secret Six” and “Batwoman” is pretty much the same regarding bravado and the standard DC kind of quipping. Everyone is just having such a blast in their tormented state of super-awesomeness, but hey, I grew very fond of it.
    Personally, I welcome the emphasis on lesbian characters in those DC comics I just mentioned. That they are treated quite generically can perhaps be overlooked a bit, since that also goes for straight characters in my opinion. I like Kate’s rockabilly-goth style too – works for me. Not a lot of character development (again, that’s not where the emphasis of DC lies, I believe). Some plot issues, I wonder where Beth went (gonna buy #4 tmw). And whether The Question (Renee) will resurface, or if she’s just gone from this storyline (which would majorly suck, but seems likely).
    I don’t think we can expect this kind of comic to specifically address lesbian tropes, or, what you, Erica, often point out: the after happily-ever-after. The real life. But it sure looks nice and, all in all, I am very excited about the new Batwoman.

  8. Felix says:

    I always kind of assumed Kate’s skin color was part to give her a more unworldly appearance, and I think also to help differentiate her from both Batgirl (civilians in Batgirl #1 were calling Barbra Gordan “Batwoman”) and Huntress.

    I am quite enjoying the pannel design myself. Then again I am reading the physical comics so the experience is different then using comixology.

    By the way, Amy Reeder is taking over drawing Batwoman in February, so I wonder so maybe the panel design will be more conventional. You can see her art either on the current alterative Batwoman covers or her blog:

  9. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if Batwoman’s skin tone is meant to be a callback to the Joker?

  10. JIN says:

    Batwoman # 5 is on comiXology if you are still reading and reviewing her. I have heard it will now go from J.H. Williams’ art to Amy Reeder. I keep feelings pangs of fear with a clearly defined Lesbian character in a comic that she will be allowed to remain a Lesbian. But this is not Japan product so one can hope?

  11. @JIN – Yeah, I know, although I’ll probably wait a few issues and buy them at once. That’s usually the way I read comics and manga anyway.

    I’ve been following Reeder’s comments on the story and Kate seems in no danger of being changed from being a lesbian. If anything, I think Reeder’s work is going to make Kate a better character, as well as resolve the Ronald McDonald issue I had with Williams’ art.

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