Review: Batwoman #21

Batwoman 21J.H. Williams III’s and W. Haden Blackman’s Batwoman is probably one of the strangest books on the market—complex, grim, filled with unique art, and though it’s technically part of DC’s New 52 Bat-Family, it seems to exist in a niche entirely its own. It’s an enigma really, but one that always surprises me. In fact, I always forget it’s on my pull-list; I walk in day of its release, my local comic-bookshop owner Roman hands me my stack, and there’s another white-black-and-red Batwoman cover! And this month’s issue was a sweet surprise.

Batwoman #21 is all about Killer Croc—though I think he prefers Waylon—and takes places after the Medusa incident. Williams III and Blackman show their literary dexterity with this issue, entitled “Interlude III,” penning great internal monologue for Killer Croc and showing us the inside of the were-cult he belongs to. At least until exeunt. I do love when authors write in the voice of the character, and Croc’s monologue is filled with all the spelling errors and ingrammaticalities a poor sewer croc like him is bound to have.

Moreover, the story features Croc as a shrewd leader, usurping his place and making decision for the betterment of himself (duh) and his new love, Claire (who seems to be with were-child). Oh yeah, and there’s a battle with Batwoman and Maggie, but it’s sort of sideline to Croc’s revelatory destiny.

If Williams III and Blackman deliver great writing and an engaging story, it’s made three to fifteen times better accompanied with Francesco Francavilla’s artistry. While Batwoman has seen the hands of talented artists before, Francavilla really does her best, and though he won’t be continuing in future issues, boy do I wish this were his regular gig…

Open up Batwoman #21 without context, and you’ll think you just bought yourself some sketchbook for a lizard demonomicon. It’s all the noir and fantastica this book needed, and Francavilla juxtaposes the more sketched-style lines of Killer Croc and the weres with the solid beauty he brings to Maggie and Kate.

Williams III and Blackman present the tragic story of yet another villain who may not be all-bad, but might have something below the layer of green, sketchbook Francavilla art that just hasn’t been apparent in past stories (he’s too busy getting the crap beat out of him by the Bat-Family). Batwoman #21 shines a sensitive spotlight on a villain much in need of depth, and deserving of such horror-comic-esque art. This is the rightful home for Croc.

Story: J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman  Art: Francesco Francavilla
Story: 8  Art: 8.5  Overall: 8.5  Recommendation: Buy