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Batwoman: Elegy Paperback – June 14, 2011
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The artwork is the best aspect of this graphic novel. I look forward to seeing more of J.H. WIlliams III and Dave Stewart's work.
First of all, the book is front loaded with a lot of action. Batwoman squares off with the mysterious "Alice", who's insanity made for a really interesting antagonist. However, the final confrontation between the two women happens mid-way through the book. The rest of the story is flashback. It felt like a really really long denouement, or like watching the end of the third "Lord of the Rings" film. With all the good stuff over and done with, I kept wondering why the story kept on going after that point. I wish Rucka had broken up the flashback sequence and sprinkled it throughout the main action. It would have made the final confrontation seem so much more vital.
Then, the layout sometimes gets in the way. I understand when writers and artist feel they have to reject the standard box progression in comic book storytelling, and it's often refreshing to see a new arrangement or stylish layout to a page. However, I think they took it a bit overboard here. It is sometimes hard to tell what's really happening, or what I'm supposed to be reading. One scene that stands out is the big face off between Kate and Alice. There they are, poised to fight, staring each other down. All around this panel are little shards showing tiny moments from their fight. But really, the overwhelming image is of the two women right before things get mean. Turn the page, one of them is down. I know they are trying to do, but it felt like the two of them just stared at each other, imagining the fight they were going to have, and then one collapsed from the mental exhaustion of picturing it.
I also have problems with the gay angle of Kit's character. It's obvious Rucka fell in love with the idea of a Westpoint cadet refusing to lie about her orientation and dropping out right on the eve of graduation, but this felt like a writer's conceit. Kit would have been lying about it for years already. Kit would have been lying to everyone around her on a daily basis in order to protect her dream of becoming an officer. Then, right before she's about to get what she wants, a superior officer asks her to say what he needs to hear and suddenly she can't do it? Why not? I didn't see enough in that scene to justify the sudden burst of integrity.
What a missed opportunity! Exploring the parallel between a maintaining a secret identity as a superhero and a secret identity as a homosexual could have added a layer of complexity and richness to the plot. At Westpoint, Kit gives up so much in order to be true to who she is. She sacrifices a life long dream rather than lie about her identity for one more second. Yet, she seeks solace for what she lost in an occupation that requires her to take her identity back under cover, protecting the lie even though doing so causes her to lose a lover. Why? Why is one lie a breach of integrity and the other perfectly acceptable to her? I wish Rucka had taken the time to give these problems some thought. I would have been very interested in what he had to say. As is, Rucka's handling of it feels a little bit too shallow to me.
Those flaws aside, Batwoman Elegy does have a lot going for it. The art is beautiful, and the story interesting. Kit's character avoids most lesbian stereotypes and kicks ass as Batwoman. (Dan Choi even makes a cameo! Yay for Dan Choi!) I am a little dissapointed in what the book misses, but it's possible I went in with expectations that were just too high. I'm glad I bought the book and do feel it is a welcome addition, flaws and all, to my comic book library.
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. What I can honestly say regarding Kate being gay is that Kate being gay is simply one aspect of a very complex character. And rightfully, her being gay is not made to be a big deal, or a spectacle. It just is. And as written here, Greg Rucka has found a way to incorporate Kate's being gay into Batwoman's origin in a very believable and very real way. Kudos for that. ( This story arc is a 2010 GLAAD award winner for Best Comic Book )
As far as the physical aspects of this book go - this book representation of the Elegy storyline is top rate. The paper quality is outstanding and the artwork by JHW3 and color by Dave Stewart really pop off the page.
We're treated to some nice extras - all the variant covers are gathered ( work by Jock, Alex Ross, JG Jones, Adam Hughes ) as are some preliminary sketches of Kate / Batwoman by JHW3. We're also shown an few pages of Greg Rucka's scripts followed by the associated art, which helps show insight into how comics go from idea to realization.
Without a doubt, this is a must have for comic fans.
And for fans - there's more of Kate to be had ... Kate Kane / Batwoman returns to the DC Universe line-up in late 2010, IN HER OWN TITLE - this time with both writing and art in the capable hands of JH Williams III.