26 April 2012

"Batwoman" #8 (Jun 2012)

Batwoman #8
"To Drown the World, Part 3"
J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman - writers
Amy Reeder - penciler & cover
Rob Hunter - inker
Guy Major - colorist
Todd Klein - letterer
Rickey Purdin - asst. editor
Harvey Richards - assoc. editor
Mike Marts - editor
Date of Publication: 11 April 2012
$2.99/32 pages

By now, we're pretty much full on into the supernatural milieu of this book, so when Batwoman defeats an underling and it somehow vanquishes the imprisoned ghost of an adversary/victim-of-a-greater-adversary, it just sort of seems natural. Like, "Duh. Of course that worked." The "Character A's Story, X time ago" structure continues with this issue and it's frankly wearing thin. It's an okay gimmick once in a while, but right now it just feels like Williams & Blackman are trying to buy themselves time to figure out just what the hell is taking place and when it's happening. Maybe I'm just projecting because I've got an inkling just how chaotic things are behind the scenes of this book.

Speaking of which, this was Amy Reeder's final issue of the series. She was supposed to have finished this arc, but her pages from issue #9 aren't even being used. I can only assume that this is somehow meant to accommodate J.H. Williams. I don't know the guy, so I can't speak to him as an individual, but as a reader of this series, I felt the last couple of issues were stronger than the arc where he did the (admittedly terrific) art. I just keep feeling like this series has way too many cooks in the kitchen, and that they made a bad choice in expelling Amy Reeder.

My biggest complaint with this issue is the plot twist of there being a strain on Kate & Maggie's nascent relationship. Really? Where did that come from? Because when last I saw them, things were fine. They were still establishing and negotiating boundaries, but hardly on the ropes as portrayed here. There's a halfhearted effort to suggest some strife between them since that issue but it doesn't jive. It just seems like something tacked on to justify making us turn the page and say, "Oh, noes! Kate & Maggie forevs!"

That said, I admit my favorite page of art is actually the one where that "plot twist" is played out. The third panel of page 13, with Agent Chase rolling her eyes cracked me up. Even though she's tossing Kate a cell phone, we see her striking the vintage "talk to the hand" pose. It's the perfect posture for Agent Chase and if they ever make a DC Direct action figure of her, she should come with an alternate head and be articulated so that she can recreate this panel.

I'm sad to see Amy Reeder go. I'm tentatively committed to this series through issue #11, which will conclude "To Drown the World." I'll reevaluate then and see if I'm in for the next arc. I can say this: I need some more substance and less being jerked around with abrupt surprises. There's still a lot to like about this book and I see a lot of potential for it, but it shouldn't take two writers and three editors to produce a haphazard book.

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