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Batwoman: Elegy Hardcover – July 6, 2010

77 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. On the surface, this is a fairly straightforward superhero thriller, in which the new (lesbian, tattooed, Jewish) Batwoman tussles with a crime-worshipping cult that's trying to poison Gotham City, and discovers how her personal history is entwined with that of their leader, a pale, murderous Lewis Carroll–quoting porcelain goth. In practice, it's spectacular—the kind of adventure story that you race through the first time and return to, to pore over slowly. The obvious attraction is Williams and colorist Dave Stewart's artwork, whose mutable style and wildly inventive layouts get across the story's twisted chronology and psychological subtleties all by themselves. Almost every page is some kind of visual set piece with symbolic resonance, and the big action scenes are as thrilling as superhero comics get. The second half of the book, Go, is Batwoman's origin story and the history of her relationship with her father; Williams actually adopts different visual aesthetics for different types of flashbacks within it, including a clever pastiche of David Mazzucchelli's Batman: Year One. Rucka's writing also deepens on closer examination, mostly because his Batwoman, Kate Kane, is a superhero like no other: don't-ask/don't-tell'ed out of the Marines, she treats her spandex-and-Kevlar work as a kind of military service that gives her life meaning. (July)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* There are a number of reasons why this story arc, which appeared last year in Detective Comics following Batman’s (for now anyway) death, is a departure from more traditional caped-crusader fare. For starters, Batwoman (aka Kate Kane) is the most prominent gay character in DC’s universe, and she kicks ass with combat boots not stilettos (though her suit is still painted on). This volume deftly blends the story of her origin as a superhero with a dark thriller that pits her against Gotham’s newest resident crazy, the High Madame of the Religion of Crime. In flashbacks, Kane get kicked out of the military for standing tall at the conflicting crossroads of Don’t ask, don’t tell and the West Point Honor Code that says A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do. In the present thread, she locks horns with the gothy villain Alice, who speaks entirely in quotations from Lewis Carroll. All this makes for a nuanced, literary, and culturally charged story, but the real knockout element is Williams’ art nouveau–inspired compositions. The consistently arresting layouts and twirling line work cross the design sensibility of Alphonse Mucha with Gotham City’s special blend of midnight grittiness. Rucka and Williams have crafted a superhero comic that is ambitious and unique in its approach, and it deserves to be read and then read again to appreciate the fullness of its smart storytelling and even more impressive artistry. --Ian Chipman

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: DC Comics; First Printing edition (July 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401226922
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401226923
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.6 x 11.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,087,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

The author of four novels about professional bodyguard Atticus Kodiak -- Keeper (nominated for a Shamus Award by the Private Eye Writers of America), Finder, Smoker, and Shooting at Midnight, Greg Rucka has been writing since he was eight years old, and hopefully is improving with age. A longtime comics fan, his first graphic novel series was the suspense thriller Whiteout, published by Oni Press and nominated for three Eisner Awards in 1999. Since that time he has been a contributing writer for DC Comics and an active participant in the Batman series of titles.
Born and raised in California, he earned his undergraduate degree at Vassar College and his MFA at the University of Southern California. He currently resides in Portland, Oregon. Mr. Rucka has two tattoos, and rides a motorcycle.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Jenkins on July 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The first thing you will notice about this book is the spectacular artwork. Artist J.H. Williams (Alan Moore's Promethea) employs several different styles over the course of the story, but his primary style (for when Batwoman goes into action) is especially beautiful. These pages are painted with a B&W ink wash and then the talented Dave Stewart (Hellboy, The Umbrella Academy) adds the colors, and the result is stunning. It's also obvious that a lot of thought went into the overall design of each page, not just individual drawings. There are even details in the art that you don't really notice until after you've finished the story.

But what of the story? There are plenty of comics that have terrific art but are poorly written. No such worries here thanks to writer Greg Rucka (Queen & Country). This is sort of a "Batwoman: Year One" (with some sections even mimicking the style of Batman: Year One), but it also gives us a memorable new villain in the psychopathic, Lewis Carroll-quoting Alice. Rucka also does a fantastic job of making Batwoman Kate Kane into her own character, and not just a female version of the Batman.

I can only think of a couple of negatives. A couple of the page layouts were so complex that it took a few seconds to figure out the order in which to read the panels. Also, the book ends in a bit of a cliffhanger, and Rucka has now left DC. Fortunately, Williams will be taking over the writing and continuing the story, but it may be a while until the Alice character returns.

This oversized hardcover is highly recommended. It's not that often that such a perfect marriage of story and art comes along.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By V. R. Smith on July 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From the classy introduction by Rachel Maddow to the voluminous bonus features that end this book, it never ceases to amaze. I collected the Detective Comics issues as they came out, and I never could decide which I liked more - Rucka's story, pitting a more realistic and tragically complex Batwoman against a villian who is so twisted and dark - or is it Williams's psychadelic, uber-detailed, gorgeous artwork? The answer is actually simple: we're so lucky that they worked on this project together.

This collection will take you through Batwoman meeting a major villian in the form of Alice, the new High Priestess for the Religion of Crime, an organization Batwoman seeks to destroy since their previous leader tried to kill her (see52, Vol. 4). She discovers that maybe Alice is a little less crazy that she'd originally thought.

And, of course, Batwoman's "origin" story - what made her want to fight crime, vigilante-style? We learn Kate Kane's chilhood tragedy, personal drive, and unimpeachible integrity. And most of all, we learn that she is most certainly not simply a "female Batman." She definitely has her own style.

Included as bonus material are five beautifully drawn alternate covers, showing us other artists takes on Batwoman. The one by Alex Ross is amazing. Also we get to see a few story boards for important scenes, and early character sheets for Kate that show us her personal style, and a very informative rough of the batwoman costume, with handwritten notes on changes made to it since her debut in 52.

Overall, this book is so worth owning, even if you collected the monthly issues. If I could have made only one entertainment purchase for myself all year, it would have been this book.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By turtlex on July 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There's not much that can be said about this impressive volume that hasn't already been said by those professionally involved in the comic community, who have a much more important opinion than mine... but I will try.

From those editors and published reviewers - This story and brilliant artwork have been much lauded; and has earned artist JH Williams III the Artist of the Year distinction from Wizard Magazine and an Eisner nomination.

This graphic novel contains the story arc from Detective Comics issues 854-860. Normally the bastion of Batman, during this time, the care and protection of Gotham has been turned over to Kate Kane ... aka Batwoman. ( please, oh, please do not refer to her as Batgirl )

This intricate plot follows multiple, but clear, storylines. We learn of Kate's family, her military service, her origin as Batwoman. We get a glimpse into her personal life and more importantly, we get insight into her character. Kate Kane is a complete and compelling superhero. Her lines are not always clearly drawn and she has a conscience. It's her need, her compulsion, to SERVE that puts Kate into Batwoman's uniform.

The story is wonderful, Greg Rucka is a very talented writer. It is the artwork, however, which I think brings both Kate and Batwoman to life. It is, simply stated, stunning. The page layouts and panels are brilliantly rendered by JH Williams III. His style draws the reader through the story with a kind of cadence and tempo that is really remarkable. You need only to look into his representation of Kate Kane's eyes to see into her soul. That is saying something.

Much has been written regarding Kate Kane / Batwoman's "outing" as gay in the 52 storyline, and her personal life is continued here, of course.
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