Review: Batwoman #1

Marguerite Bennett and James Tynion IV weave an interesting and diverse tale in Batwoman #1 the return of the character to her own ongoing series. This isn’t just a Rebirth, it is an awakening of a compelling and interesting story where a fluff line used to reside. There’s real emotion and a real story being told and I’m more than happy to allow myself to get engaged in it and take this arc up on its offer for what seems to be a very compelling ride. The women in this story are strong, vulnerable, relatable and human. There are layers to everything that peek through the surface and pull you in deeper. The beginning of the “Many Arms of Death” storyline has Kate’s chickens coming home to roost as she finds herself living on her yacht and hunting down the surge of a lethal drug that has hit the streets of Cortana. We not only get to see Batwoman in action, without the brooding caped crusader stealing her thunder but, we get to learn a little bit more about her lost years which it turns out weren’t all parties and passion.

Steve Epting and Jeromy Cox provide some really cool, muted and realistic art for the panels in this issue. The colors only pop when that red hair is in the middle of kicking some ass, keeping the focus on our somber hero. The rest of the time the art stays muted and dark which matches the tone of the story of a killer street drug on an island of criminals. There’s a sense of danger, foreboding and death that lingers in the edges of the panels that makes the story feel real and dark but, also engaging.

There isn’t a useless panel, word, or action in any of the pages of this story. Each conversation, fight, intel gathering computer screen flash is meaningful and important. Everything moves the story forward and engages the reader giving off flashes of insight to air of mystery that surrounds Batwoman. You can’t help but be drawn in and fascinated by everything about the character and the writers put the focus squarely on her, literally and figuratively. There is also not a trace of Batman which means that we are treated to a Batwoman story and arc that is, gasp, all about Batwoman as it should be.

Bennett and Tynion give her character some much-needed urgency and fire. Having established Kate’s sexuality in the previous start-up issue, Bennett doesn’t revisit it outside of a flashback showing that there may have been something going on between Kate and someone from the island. The way Bennett chose to have this play out is brilliant, she isn’t washing over her sexuality nor is she exploiting it. Having established it already it allows the story to continue, like in real life because no one goes about their daily business professing their sexuality.  This choice normalizes something that is normal and allows us to get to know the character better and, doesn’t use her being a lesbian as a gimmick or as a diversity red herring. There’s something to be said about being able to tell a compelling story without the use of cheap tricks AND still having diversity and inclusion in the story.

Overall, I found this issue a fast, compelling, well-written read and I can’t wait until the next installment in, if this opening issue is any indication, what I am sure will be a very interesting arc and a wonderful upgrade to the Batwoman legacy and series.

Story: Marguerite Bennett and James Tynion IV Art: Steve Epting and Jeromy Cox
Story: 9.3 Art: 9.1 Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review