You can’t argue the indelible mark former Batwoman co-writers J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman left on the character of Kate Kane, and the insurmountable expectation weighing heavy on the shoulders of new series writer Marc Andreyko. Andreyko’s first attempt with the character happened last month in issue 25, but as I stated when reviewing that Zero Year tie-in, that was not the book to judge his talents by; the issue was not only a visual patchwork to cover for the early dismissal of the previous creative team, but the narrative had no connection to the ongoing plot of the book up until that point. As it turns out, Batwoman #26, Andreyko’s true debut, wipes the slate clean anyhow. This is great news for those looking to get inside the Batwoman universe as the issue provides a suitable jumping-on point. Those readers that have been waiting since October for the conclusion to the prior arc, however, are going to be more than a little discouraged to know that the closure is not here.
But fret not for long, as a brief mention of the conflict between Batwoman and Batman is made in this issue, promising resolution in April. It’s a strange aside to make in an issue that otherwise moves Batwoman beyond the past and into a new quarrel with an art thief named the Wolf Spider. While I admit that villains being named after enemies of bats is starting to induce eye-rolling among the Bat-titles, Andreyko manages to make the mystery of stolen art just a bit juicer by including an opening sequence set in 1920s Gotham that may shed light on the identity of the Wolf Spider. In-between setting the stages for a intriguing whodunit, Andreyko does a fair job at establishing who Kate Kane is and the relationships she has with her fiancé Maggie Sawyer and her crime fighting sidekick of a cousin, Bette. If there’s one complaint to lob at this issue it’s that Andreyko spends too much time on Kate pretending to be a socialite, and when she eventually suits up to take on the Wolf Spider, their clash ends at a cliff-hanger right in the middle of the action. But that’s comics.
Jeremy Haun, whose talents I greatly admired on Batman #23.2: The Riddler #1, continues to impress me with this issue of Batwoman. His detailed line work and use of shading gives the opening pages of the 1920s Gotham the appropriate mysterious glamour, while the same techniques help to give the characters in the present time a realistic vibrancy. Facial expressions are well defined and bombastic, creating a real sense of friendship between Kate and her fellow socialites at the art gallery that takes up most of the issue. Haun’s look for the Wolf Spider borrows a little too much from the Court of Owls’ Talon for my taste, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the battle between he and Batwoman carries a very natural flow thanks to the art. There’s no telling where this new arc of Batwoman is headed, but it’s a relief to know that one of my favorite DC characters is still in good hands.
GNN Comics Grade: VERY GOOD (7.5/10)