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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*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