27 October 2011

"Batwoman" #2 (Dec 2011)

Batwoman #2
"Hydrology, Part 2: Infiltration"
J.H. Williams, III: co-writer & artist
W. Haden Blackman: co-writer
Dave Stewart: colors
Todd Klein: letters
Katie Kubert: assistant. editor
Janelle Asselin: associate editor
Michael Marts: editor
Batman created by Bob Kane
Date of publication: 12 October 2011
$2.99, 32 pages

Batwoman #1 was the least satisfying of the four New 52 books I tried last month, but I was sufficiently intrigued enough that I took a chance on issue #2.  The issue opens with Batwoman and her sidekick (Kate Kane and her cousin, Bette, respectively) discussing the offer from Batman in the previous issue to join Batman, Inc.--a global organization of Bat-branded heroes overseen by the original Dark Knight.  From there, we're off to Kate's first date with Gotham City Police Officer Maggie Sawyer, who in turn is frazzled by a government agent that has Batwoman in her sights.  And then there's some kind of mauling involving "weres."

I will say that I found this issue a cut above the first issue.  To begin, there are few splash pages this time, meaning not only a more traditional layout, but more actual story content.  I thought Kate's date with Maggie worked quite well--better than Barbara Gordon's date with her physical therapist in Batgirl #2 if for no other reason than I knew this date was coming.  I really like the Kate/Maggie relationship so far and I'm looking forward to seeing that develop.  So far, it hasn't been the kind of shameless sexualization that has marred some of the other New 52 books (though admittedly, some of these poses are clearly meant to showcase the figures of the women).  J.H. Williams, III's art is gorgeous and I feel like this is the kind of style that is much more to my liking than a collection of splash pages.  If this is representative of how the rest of the series will be presented, then I should be quite happy to continue reading.

That said, I have problems with the story.  To begin, there's no real explanation of who the men are that Batwoman and Plebe fight in the beginning of this issue, or why they're fighting.  It doesn't seem relevant to anything else in this arc; instead, it feels like an obvious ploy to throw some action onto the page to accompany expository dialog.  I'm perfectly fine with combining action with exposition...so long as both make sense.  I can, however, happily say that this issue's exposition was much smoother than the awkward and clumsy dialog of issue #1--which I had hoped would be the case.  I think they simply put too many things into the first issue thinking that newbies needed to know all those things and the truth is, I don't think we did.  (Yes, I count myself as a new reader since I've never touched a Batwoman comic until this series.)  In any event, those things are out of the way and it seems that this issue was more what Williams and Blackman want to present.

My chief problem is that there's virtually nothing about the ghost woman kidnapping children!  There's some minor references to the lack of progress on the case, but otherwise it seems entirely peripheral.  Then, instead of following through on that subplot, we see this mauling of a ton of gang members by meta human "weres."  WTF?

I'll continue to be patient, knowing this is a five-issue arc and that I'm only two issues into it, but this arc better resolve a lot of things for me to keep reading.  For now, though, I'm satisfied that the deficiencies of issue #1 were largely absent here and I'm encouraged about issue #3, which I'm looking forward to with a bit more enthusiasm than I had going into issue #2.

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