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Batwoman: The Many Arms of Death

Typically not a DC fan, and definitely not a Batman fan, I decided to give the rebooted Batwoman a try. Kathleen has recently enjoyed previous recent titles about her such as Hydrology and Elegy and had great things to say about both, so I gave it a go.

I went in totally unfamiliar with Batwoman, so I appreciated her origin story in the beginning to get know what shaped her into who she is now. As a child her twin sister and mother are killed in a failed kidnapping (although you just know her twin will reapppear again- if not in this volume, a future one). We then see Kate as a cadet at West Point and when her sexuality is discovered, she won’t deny it, thus she is kicked out. Next the heiress is seen partying it up, but it’s obviously a mask to hide her pain.

Then the timeline really starts to dart around. Kate has a “lost” year between leaving West Point and becoming Batwoman. She is stranded on the island of Coryana with a head injury and falls in love with her beautiful benefactor Safiyah, who is the leader of this lawless nation. Safiyah’s previous lover Tahani is pushed aside for Kate, which fills Tahani with rage. Years later Tahani is back for revenge and the storyline becomes James Bondish, with an actual Moneypenny character. Kate is very unlikable at this stage, and Tahani speaks some truth to her, which Kate just ignores. As soon as I finally was becoming comfortable in this one stage of her life, there is another timeline jump into the future.  No mater what timeline she is in, Kate jumps from one lover to another, and is condescending to all. I’ve never been a fan of “bad boys who need redemption” character types, so I wasn’t a fan even with the gender switch. No matter who you are, or love, be nice. I guess she’s similar to Batman- whose brooding nature I have never liked.

Three artists are listed, and as such sometimes the art style shifts from one issue to the next. All illustrate well, with a dark color palette and varied panel structure. It’s certainly not the art I have a problem with. What I don’t get is her supposed secret identity. Hello- her flaming red hair is a huge clue! Is everyone supposed to think that Batwoman can’t be Kate because Kate has short red hair while Batwoman has long? Its a wig people, attached to her cowl!  And does she she wear it under her clothes? There was one scene in which she is dressed as Kate and one second later she is in her costume. I actually looked to see if there was a page, or at least a panel, that would explain it.

I received this digital copy through NetGalley for a fair and unbiased review. I let the excitement of being approved for the volume to override my usual avoidance of Batman stories. Truth be told, Kathleen would have been a better reviewer for the story. I’m not sure if me not liking it had to do with my distaste for Kate or if the time jumping made it too choppy for me to enjoy. While I welcomed the needed LGTBQ superhero storyline, Kate wasn’t the right person to carry it off.

-Nancy

Bennett, Marguerite & James Tynion IV. Batwoman: The Many Arms of Death. 2017.

Batwoman (Vol. 1): Hydrology

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Williams III, J.H., W. Haden Blackman, Amy Reader, Richard Friend, and Dave Stewart. Batwoman (Vol. 1): Hydrology. 2012.

I loved Eulogy so much I reached for more Batwoman. Such a good decision~

After the tragic events of Eulogy, Kate is no longer speaking to her father – keeping that big of a secret from her is unforgivable. She works with her cousin, Bette Kane (otherwise known as Flamebird), to keep Gotham safe. A new supernatural terror is preying on Gotham’s children: a specter named La Llorona, the Weeping Woman. She is named after a Mexican urban legend depicting a woman who, upon letting her children drown in a river, drowns herself, but is turned away from heaven and forced to walk the earth as a spirit. No one knows if the children she takes are dead or simply missing. Batwoman races against the clock to find the children, as the government chases her, trying to figure out who she is… and they’ll do anything and hurt anyone close to Kate to find out.

The art in this book was just as beautiful and trippy as it was in Eulogy. I keep coming back mostly for the art tbh. We get a little bit of Batman here, which is fun. We also see Kate trying to move on with her life. La Llorona was a great villain to either act as a catalyst for Kate to finally move on – or drown in her own grief and guilt.

– Kathleen

Batwoman: Elegy

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Rucka, Greg and J.H. Williams III. Batwoman: Elegy. 2010.

Thirteen covens that Gotham thought were sleeping have woken, their criminal activity spiking. They’re after Batwoman, but no one, Kate least of all, knows why. She infiltrates one to meet the new high priestess, a girl calling herself Alice. She poisons Batwoman, causing Kate to hallucinate and remember dreadful things. When Alice kidnaps Kate’s father, all bets are off for Batwoman. In trying to apprehend her, a terrible accident causes Alice to fall. Her last words are disturbing, to say the least. Kate must walk through her own memory to uncover a terrible family secret… one she thought she had put to rest.

The art in this book is amazing. A M A Z I N G. There are so many panels that are laid out differently, which makes it a difficult read at first, but they all follow kind of the same format so you’ll get it after a while. It’s got really trippy colors and formats, super kaleidoscopic. It’s suspenseful and heartbreaking. It’s easy to see why it was so critically acclaimed after it came out. If you’re looking for a comic with superb art, look no further!

– Kathleen

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