by Lindsay Young, CMRO Contributing Writer
Detective Comics #854
Written by Greg Ruka, Art by J.H. Williams III
Published: August 2009
I admit to not reading tons of Batman comics, but since I was given this issue at a convention, I figured I’d give it a shot. Turns out it’s a visually stunning issue with heaps and heaps of gritty, gothic atmosphere, exactly what I like when I do pick up the odd Batman storyline on occasion. The colouring is just fantastic- lots of stark shades, very dark in tone but brightened up by select bits of bright, bright red in Batwoman’s hair and costume.
I love this artwork. There’s subtlety to the movements of the characters, their expressions and body language. The panels are laid out in interesting ways, and there’s a nice variety of angles. Important, too, is that the women are drawn in such a way that highlights their ridiculous proportions or objectifying poses. More than that, the character designs are fairly diverse and interesting, especially when a new villain introduces herself later on.
The storyline itself in this issue is also a nice mix of crimefighting and personal drama, and neither feels melodramatic. In fact, I found the real life portions of Kate’s life–her failed dating life, her struggling with past battle wounds–to be just as atmospheric as the dark, shadowy action scenes that frame it.
It’s a transitional chapter in a lot of ways, but if the aim of this issue was to intrigue me into following the Batwoman series, it really was an effective hook. While there’s not much to say yet about the story, I’m in love with the artwork and the subtlety in the dialogue and character interactions. I’m more than surprised at just how much I enjoyed it. For the art alone, it’s worth checking out. Everything else isn’t too shabby either.