(Goodness, I’m posting more often than I planned in a week. Oh, well, haha.)
This is D.C., here to throwdown on a DC Comics series: Batwoman.
Batwoman is a loose member of the Bat Family, which includes Batman, Robin, Nightwing, and Batgirl. In DC’s the New 52, Batwoman is also Katherine “Kate” Kane, a young socialite who was booted out of military academy for homosexual conduct.
The first few volumes with creative team Jaden Blackman and co-writer/artist J.H. Williams III were fantastic. In a time in which comic book “fans” feel that comics books are too politically correct or are pandering too hard towards homosexuality, Kate Kane’s portrayal is…I suppose I could call it beautiful and raw. Her character is so natural. Even her origins, in which she reveals her homosexuality to her father, is done simply and nicely. Her conflict with an apparent homophobe is handled without excessive theatrics.
In Batwoman, you see that Kate is just like any “normal” person with “normal” issues. She is many things: soldier, badass woman, lesbian, socialite, and more importantly, broken. All these elements are explored very well in the first four to five volumes.
The art by J.H. Williams III fit the theme of Batwoman so strongly. It had all the makings of a supernatural/horror/suspense book, and the disturbing art was consistent with those themes. The art also had its enchanting parts, such as when we see Kate in her public persona. It switched between “normal” and horror accordingly:
In Volume 5 and Volume 6, Williams and Blackman left due to creative conflicts with DC, leaving Marc Andreyko and Georges Jeanty to take the reins. Their run was highly disappointing.
For one, Jeanty’s art is completely incongruous with the themes of Batwoman. It’s like an artist who primarily writes horror brings his art to a comedy. It’s hard to describe, but you know mismatched art when you see it.
One of the worst things I think an artist/writer/creator can do is to not pay attention to their own work. Jeanty and Volume 6’s colorists have that issue in spades, especially when transitioning from one issue to the next. At the end of one issue, Kate is in one outfit. The next issue immediately follows, and she is wearing a completely different outfit. It’s like the creative team forgot what they even did last issue.
The same issue is seen with Morgaine Le Fay’s hair color, which went from blue at the end of an issue, immediately to green. It shouldn’t be difficult to keep up with what you color or draw.
Jeanty can barely draw Batwoman, Kate Kane, or any of the characters well. When you’re used to seeing this in the first several volumes:
Why would you expect something cartoonish like this?
There are times the art is fine, but it’s inconsistent in a bad way.
Volume 6’s story arc is likewise disjointed. Things happened without much reason or consistency. The rhyming demon Etrigan and his human host Jason Blood are shown to be separate, but it’s never explained how or why, even when they re-merge. At the end of one issue, the two come face-to-face and address one another as “YOU?”
And then the next issue, Jason Blood says he doesn’t even know the demon. Why the inconsistency?
Even Clayface, a good horror element potential in this arc, looks and sounds foolish:
It’s one thing to change artists between themes and arcs in a book, but Batwoman had a steadily supernatural/suspense/horror theme up until her cancellation. When the first creative team departed, the creativity and charm of Batwoman declined as well. It’s no surprising that it ended in its cancellation.
I loved Batwoman, at least the first five volumes by Jaden Blackman and J.H. Williams III. The art was phenomenal and consistent with the themes, while the writing was great. Kate, her loved ones, and even her antagonists had the light shown into their actions and, most importantly, their motives. How often do you get a look into the mentality of an antagonist without some haughty speech against his/her opponent?
I loved the horror/supernatural themes explored in the series as much as I enjoyed exploring Kate Kane’s personal life.
Unfortunately, midway through Volume 5 to the end of the series, there’s an obvious regression in artistic and script quality. Marc Andreyko and Georges Jeanty just don’t measure up, in my eyes, when it comes to capturing the essence of Batwoman or her cast. Jeanty’s cartoonish art may work in some series, but it did not belong here.
All these issues led to a very disappointing and unexplored ending to an otherwise amazing series.
With Batwoman becoming a regular in Detective Comics come DC’s “Rebirth,” I look forward to this strong and pained woman getting the spotlight once again.