Customer Reviews: Batwoman: Elegy
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on July 7, 2010
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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on July 13, 2010
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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on July 19, 2010
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. 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.
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on March 15, 2013
Collects Detective Comics 854-860

When it comes to comics, I'm normally more interested in the stories than the artwork, but J.H. Williams III's art is just so incredible I had to get this. The story isn't half-bad either.

After "Infinite Crisis," the Big Three (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman) took a year-long sabbatical to re-assess their purposes in life. The 52 weeks of their absence was chronicled in the series "52." During that time, Gotham city needed a protector, and Kate Kane became Batwoman to fill the void. During this time, she fought an organization called the Religion of Crime.

In this volume, Batwoman continues to fight crime (even though Batman is back in action). The Religion of Crime has a new leader, Alice, whose dialogue consists entirely of quotations from the works of Lewis Carrol.
The first four issues here are the "Elegy" story itself, telling the story of Batwoman's fight against Alice. This has one plot element that is extremely difficult to believe, but telling you what it is would be a spoiler. The remaining three issues are Batwoman's origin story. As an interesting twist, Kate's father becomes her "Alfred."

Parental guidance: This books contains lesbians, painted-on costumes, and a werewolf, so I'd rate it about PG-13.

Additional note: I think this story survived the 2011 reboot, more or less.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon April 22, 2012
The stunning, just-about-groundbreaking artwork of J.H. Williams III. The mood-setting colors of Dave Stewart. The tight writing of thriller novelist Greg Rucka. The fleshing out of one of the strongest female characters in comic books. The sheer assskickery and the street level grit. BATWOMAN: ELEGY collects DETECTIVE COMICS #854-860 (minus the Question back-up feature; sorry, Renee). If you missed out on or passed up these issues when they first published, well, what's your excuse now? In 2009-10, DETECTIVE COMICS, sans the Darknight Detective, vied for the mantle of best superhero comic then going. Maybe, at the time, you were vexed because Bruce Wayne and Cassandra Cain (Batgirl) had just gotten the raw deal. Maybe you felt that DC was trying to shove this mysterious Batwoman down your throat. I felt a bit like that. And then I cracked open the pages, and I was bowled over, my gob all smacked.

History (and Wiki) notes that this modern-era Batwoman debuted in 2006, during the seventh week of the 52 maxi-series, and that she began operating in Gotham during Batman's year-long sabbatical, post-Infinite Crisis. But it wasn't until DETECTIVE COMICS that she and we finally began getting truly acquainted. Going into this brace of issues, you need to know that Batwoman had long been targeted by the Religion of Crime, what with Batwoman's demise having been prophesied in the Bible of Crime. This monstrous cult's previous leader, the High Madame, some time ago had captured Batwoman, had plunged a dagger into her heart.

As this volume opens, Kate Kane - not to be confused with Kathy Kane a.k.a. the original Batwoman who debuted in DETECTIVE COMICS #233 way back in 1956 - is still recovering from her near fatal stabbing. So she doesn't react too kindly when she hears that a crazed murderess named Alice has just assumed the role of new High Madame to the Religion of Crime and its thirteen covens in Gotham. The Batwoman anticipates having a word with Alice. This'll pose a problem as the creepy Alice tends to exclusively quote Lewis Carroll.

Kate Kane has landed much notoriety, thanks to her being a 1ebanese or something. That so much attention is given by you and you and me to that one aspect of her makeup tends to undermine how strong of a character she really is. Greg Rucka is a wonderful writer, expert at crafting these taut, hard-boiled thrillers, and he doesn't neglect those good character beats (and if you haven't checked out his Atticus Kodiak and Tara Chace novels, then you're missing out). This volume explores not only Kate Kane's sexual orientation but, finally, her full backstory. I love that Batwoman isn't just a female Batman clone. We learn of Kate's military career being derailed before it even had a chance to take off. Desperate to serve in some way - and late one evening inspired by the Batman - she doesn't feel the need to worm her way into Bats' inner circle. She's her own woman and doesn't require Batman's approval (but she gets it anyway). In fact, the sense I get is that should any in the Bat family throw a criticism her way, she'll just shrug it off. Along the way, Rucka establishes Kate's set of supporting characters (the most prominent of which is her military dad who acts as sort of her tech/tactics/weapons support at her secret home base). It's a very interesting, sometimes tense relationship that they share. Kate habitually calls her dad "Sir."

Even if Greg Rucka hadn't been penning this and the writing had sucked, it still would've been worth a peek for J.H. Williams III's sensational, haunting artwork. It took forever for me to get thru these issues, mostly because I spent minutes ogling the art inch by inch. Williams' creative layouts and impressive design work deserve the reader's rapt attention, and, hell, maybe a bit of adoration. I was so tempted to rip out that glorious two-paged spread (pages 18 & 19) in issue #854 just so I could pin them up on the wall. The Batwoman is visually dynamic. I love her costume's stark contrast of black and that wash of crimson. Kate Kane in her civilian guise is equally as striking. Kate, with her paleness and fiery hair and unconventional wardrobe, looks one step out of sync with everyone else.

By the way, I think colorist Dave Stewart just ran out of red.

Kate Kane's tragic origin story unfolds in issues #858-860. One of the neat things about this arc is that Williams, during the flashback sequences, applies a style that's reminiscent of Mazzuchelli/Weeks/Lark. I initially assumed another artist was handling the flashback panels, but, no, it's all J.H. Williams.

Unlike the other "New 52" relaunches, the current BATWOMAN series (Batwoman Vol. 1: Hydrology (The New 52)) - which unfortunately doesn't have Rucka but does have J.H. Williams - actually picks up the continuity from these issues in DETECTIVE COMICS. In the New 52, Kate's backstory and the events in the "Elegy" arc still happened. Just in case you're looking for one more reason to get invested.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon August 20, 2011
I was a bit confused with this book' storyline, this being my first exposure to the world of Kate Kane aka Batwoman. There were references to death cults who previously stabbed her in the heart and this being her second run at an age old prophecy; then there was the inclusion of animal people (who are they? Where did they come from?) I was a bit lost at sea despite being familiar with the superhero world of DC.

I liked that DC made her a gay superhero but didn't make it a big deal or central to the story. It's good to see a company as big as DC embracing equal rights.

But the best thing about the book is something everyone has noted in the reviews - JH Williams III's artwork. It is ravishing! I read "Desolation Jones" a few years ago because I'm a big fan of Warren Ellis' but was amazed at the detailed artwork in the book. The biggest reason for picking up this book was so I could see this artist's work again and boy was it worth it.

As for the writing though, Greg Rucka is a competent writer but by no means a great writer. His work here is average at best; it pushes the story forward but doesn't provide any memorable scenes or great lines. It's your basic Batman/Joker storyline without the Y chromosome.

Which leads me to the villain - Alice. Not only is the "Alice in Wonderland" theme overplayed in the Batman world but Alice is distinctly like Harley Quinn in every way except appearance and only then just barely. She's just not that original a villain.

And if I'm honest, neither is Batwoman that compelling a character. Her origin story is gone into here but as a superhero? She's kind of sub-par. I mean, her dad saves her on two occasions and on another a weird band of animal people save her. I just don't think she can match Batman or even lesser DC superheroes like Aqua Man or Wonder Woman.

The origin story was ok as it contained enough mystery to give the earlier, action heavy opening chapters more depth, but I wasn't as blown away by this book as I'd been expecting given the hugely positive reviews. The book stands out for the art rather than the average writing and by-the-numbers plotting, and while I think Batwoman is an interesting character I feel Greg Rucka isn't the writer to make her a great superhero.

"Elegy" is probably great if you love the character and know her story a lot more than I did and while this can be read more or less as a standalone, it's not nearly as amazing a book as other reviewers have said. It's a decent read just don't expect anything original - except for the exceptional artwork.
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The new Batwoman was by far the most interesting character to come out of the 52 series. It was obvious that we were going to see more of her. And here it is.

Like the new Batwoman herself, Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III's "Batwoman: Elegy" is a slick and stylish production, with touches of Film Noir mixed with Hammer Horror mixed with Black Hawk Down. Both Rucka and Williams III move nimbly through stylistic and tonal changes, delivering a story that seems much longer than it is. They pack each page tight with action and emotional content. Dave Stewarts coloring manages to keep continuity through all of the art styles, going from full paintings to flat art, keeping some elements consistent like Katherine's bright red hair.

Katherine Kane's sexuality has always been a major part of her character, and it is even more so here without being used to tantalize a male audience. This is not "Batgirls Gone Wild." We learn that she was dismissed from West Point in violation of article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Given a chance to go in the closet and continue in the military, Katherine chooses to tell the truth and accept the consequences. "I'm gay."

But "Batwoman: Elegy" isn't really about politics. It is about the character. Katherine Kane is a complex hero; revenge-driven, like Batman, but more emotionally supported with her father being part of her operation and serving as her "Alfred." She seeks comfort and relationships, but still feels the need to put herself on the line in the name of justice, to serve and protect in a way the military wouldn't allow her.

Yet while the Batwoman herself is a multi-facetted and interesting character, her primary antagonist is less so. I was never really in love with the whole Religion of Crime element of "52." It was a good idea but without many avenues for execution. Here, the Religion of Crime is back with a new leader, Alice, who looks to play Joker to the new Batwoman. Alice is "crazy" in the way too many comic villains are crazy, with a Alice in Wonderland obsession although she goes in more for corsets and garter belts of the Japanese Gothic Lolita look than blue baby-doll dresses and white aprons. Visually, Alice is a nice design and she has a classic back-story, but she never really gets developed beyond being "crazy" and just didn't carry much weight as a primary villain. It seemed like Alice was mainly there to give Batwoman someone to fight while the real story could carry on. Hopefully Alice will be back, and the emotional link between her and Batwoman further developed.

At any rate, I am looking forward to more Batwoman, hopefully with this same creative team. The bar has been set pretty high with this first release.
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on April 7, 2016
I have always like Greg Rucka and his take on this character. This is the first collected editions of the BatWoman graphics and it is a nice soilid tale. There is a difference between Batman stories and this more gothic take on Gotham. Art work and story flow together and the adventure stands up well to the new Hero and her villans. Give it a try and have an open mind.
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on August 15, 2015
This was way better than I expected. I understand there's a whole under laying plot about the disappearance of Batman, but this story is outstanding all by its lonesome. The story went places I completely didn't expect. The artwork is stunning. I've looked over some of the pages again and again simply amazed by the images. As interesting as the main Batwoman character is, her arch nemesis, the wickedly twisted, ruthless, insane Alice is outrageous. After reading the final outcome of the story, my mind is still spinning in its brain pan. I really enjoyed this series.
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on November 21, 2011
First off, the art in this graphic novel is AMAZING. The entirety of the work is visually stunning; I wanted to keep reading for no other reason.

In terms of a real review, the book is a bit short. I finished it in a single sitting and it's far from difficult reading. The story isn't as engaging as I would have liked it to have been and a lot of the content within leads me to believe I should have read something else Batwoman first, despite other reviews mentioning this as a good starting point.

I opted to give it a 4 star rating not because I was lazily reviewing it, but the book easily had 5 star art and a 3 star story. The story wasn't bad, just not as good as I would have liked it to have been. I expected more, but I was not disappointed with what I got. I can say, legitimately, that I looked for more Batwoman to read after finishing this up, if only to see some more of the stunning visuals and learn more about her.

As a side note, the cover of this book was scratched when I got it, so I was disappointed in Amazon's shipment of it.
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