This latest instalment has only twelve pages, including the cover – yet it still manages to not only be the best comic I’ve read of the whole of DC’s relaunch, but in quite some time.
Blackman and Williams III play equal parts in the title’s success. The artwork here is nothing short of sublime, particularly the opening few pages. Here, an intimate encounter between Batwoman’s alter-ego Kate Kane and Detective Sawyer is subtly portrayed in monochrome ink-wash panels, superimposed on vibrant painted artwork depicting Kate’s cousin Bette in Flamebird guise, taking on one of the ghostly villain’s henchmen.
The effect is stunning, with the delicate touch of Williams III’s brush evoking Kane & Sawyer’s passion in a non-exploitative manner, whilst the visceral and shocking conflict between Flamebird and her hook-handed nemesis plays out in the background.
The script displays the same deftness of touch: with the moans of physical desire clashing against the gurgling gasps of agony in the intertwined scenes. This has the effect of heightening the emotional impact of both: a better depiction of there being no pleasure without pain is hard to imagine.
The second half of the book deals with webs closing in. Federal Agent Chase has her quarry’s possible identity fall into her lap; whilst Batwoman gets closer to the source of the child-killing foe she’s been tracking since the first issue.
As the issue closes, Kate is unaware of both her cousin’s fate and of how close her cover is to being blown.
The stage is therefore set for an emotional and powerful next issue, which – however it plays out – is practically guaranteed to be essential.