When I picked up this weeks issue of Batwoman, my first thoughts were “really, really? Are we seriously going there again?” You might be wondering what the devil my problem is with this months issue, and I’m going to tell ya . . . the cover. Let’s do a little comparison. On the left is a cover from the previous creators, and on the right is this weeks cover.
What differences do you see here? A second of your time, please. I’ve been doing a lot of research on superheroes (women) of late, so I watched the PBS special Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines (2013). (It’s still up for free viewing here if you are interested.) One of the guys interviewed makes the claim that men are just as sexualized and hyper-masculinized as women are. But, according to Jennifer K. Stuller, a popular culture scholar, the difference is that while “men may be drawn as muscular and handsome . . . they’re also shown being active. They’re shown saving the day.” In contrast to this, “women are shown in very little clothing and tortured, raped, murdered. So to say that men are just as hypersexualized, really isn’t true because they are not subjected to those same sorts of treatments of their bodies.” To bring all of this to bear on our covers here, the original creators of this series, Williams III, Blackman, and McCarthy, created Batwoman to be a SUPERHERO. Not a female in a costume, shown being tortured in a very suggestive pose, as we see on the right above. On the left, Batwoman is kicking ass against, none-the-less, Batman. She’s active, and yes, believe it or not, saving the day. So again, I say, really . . . really?
With that being said, let’s talk about the comics content. It’s not ALL bad news here, although it’s certainly not ALL good either. Creators Marc Andreyko (W) and Jeremy Haun along with Francis Manapul (A) have attempted to bring some of the old style back into this issue. As you can see below, this is an awesome two-page spread.
The art and colors here are impressive. The story . . . well, Batwoman has been drugged, and these drugs are causing her some pretty horrible flashbacks/hallucinations. To be honest, I’m not liking this at all. Up until now, we’ve seen a Batwoman who has been comfortable in her sexuality. She could’ve stayed in the service simply by lying, but that’s not who she is as a person. Her attitude up until now has been more of the “deal with it, or don’t, but it’s not my problem” kind of mentality. She has been a very strong role model for young girls and women to look to when dealing with their own gender/sexuality issues. Now, however, we see doubt, shame, confusion, fear. Had the character started that way, and slowly grew into her confidence, I’d be ok with that. But we’ve had a completely confident character (where her sexuality/gender is concerned) who is now exhibiting self-doubt. This continues when you flip the page.
Again, the art work and colors are breath-taking, but the story line continues as before. Flip the page . . . surprise, there’s yet another two-page layout, and there was one before the one I started with! Four back-to-back two-page spreads is about three too many. But it’s these eight pages that have the best art work and coloring. After the last two-page spread, the art goes back to boring and the writing simplistic.
The four two-page spreads along with the writing makes an attempt at creating some of the depth we had with the previous creators. My problem is the direction that depth is taking. Once the spreads are over, and we’re back in the here and now, Flamebird just deserts Batwoman saying, “I hope you’re okay, cuz. It’s time for me to get outta here!” Wow, how’s that for a teammate. The rest of the story is, frankly, unbelievable to me as well.
All-in-all, don’t waste your money unless you are like me and want to see this character through to the bitter end. While the art work and colors on the spreads is impressive, the story line is frustrating and mostly unbelievable. They are taking a great character and frankly, ruining her.
After what I consider a horrible start for the new creators of Batwoman, this month's issue has some redemption in the art and colors, while the story continues to go down hill.