W. Haden Blackman and J.H. Williams III‘s Batwoman was one of the stand-out first issues from DC’s New 52. With an intriguing story and strong female characters, it re-established Kate Knight as a force to be reckoned with as she blazed a no-nonsense trail through Gotham in pursuit of a child-snatching foe.
This second issue builds on the strength of the opening, taking it even further. Williams III’s artwork is nothing short of superb: a mix of clean, graphic panels and pages for when the characters are ‘out of uniform’; and his stunning painted pieces, with several more stand-out double-page spreads taking the visual medium of the comic book and turning it into an artform. From detailed gang battle action pieces recreated from Detective Sawyer’s analysis of the crime scene; to a striking spread where Knight and Batman meet, with the split panels framed by a red-outlined Bat logo against a background of swirling, corpse-filled water – J.H. Williams III must be one of the most inspired artists working in the medium today.
Blackman’s script isn’t too shabby either. It’s notable for focusing on strong female characters without treading even close to exploitation. How he handles the growing relationship between Knight and Sawyer is a good example of this, being handled in a mature and believable manner which exposes the characters’ humanity rather than their flesh.
Knight is becoming more well-rounded as a character too, with her feisty but protective relationship with her cousin and sidekick Bette being the most interesting, exposing as it does the distrust Knight has for her father: and for male authority in general.
Batwoman #2 is an excellent book: worthy of at least three re-reads (with one of those purely to appreciate Williams III’s art). Secret identities, split loyalties and supernatural evils are the undercurrents in a plot which is getting deeper with each issue, and which is elevating Batwoman into definite must read status.