Review: BATWOMAN #1

Written by Marguerite Bennett & James Tynion IV
Art by Steve Epting, Jeremy Cox, & Deron Bennett
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: March 15, 2017

How do you cause someone pain?

Kate Kane has been working for six long weeks to solve a case regarding the criminal substance Venom, only for her latest lead to be struck by an assassin’s knife. Her own memories play with her as she questions the role and intentions of her personal Pennyworth. After her arrival to a place of bittersweet nostalgia, Kate is brutally confronted with something that will challenge her time in a lonely isle.

Batwoman #1 is sufficiently dark, enough to match the tone I feel surrounds the character. The focus on detective work, and its frustrations, help set up a foundation I hope carries through the series and its first arc. The plot, though, is somewhat different. While the atmosphere takes on Kate’s own enigmatic nature, the story leaves a little to be desired. There’s not quite enough background to seek your teeth into, which can lead to far more questions than needed after a first issue.

Even if there’s not a whole lot to grab onto, the memory segment is intriguing, aided not only by seemingly happenstance events, but by the black and white art, dotted by the red of Kate’s hair and a strange woman’s lips and another’s eyes. This part of the story captures something special about Batwoman through multiple layers, and had its presence permeated the issue, this inaugural chapter may have had a much stronger start.

Though I have misgivings about the issue as a whole, Marguerite Bennett and James Tynion IV use narrative motifs that change its dynamics. The parallel exposition and conclusion of this issue, as well as the intrusion of Kate’s past upon her present, provide an important drama. Yet, while the framework catches your attention, the lack of detail and the reliance upon cryptic clues as to Kate’s past is what I feel holds the story back. Show don’t tell is important, but this is a case where telling could have been more helpful.

Steve Epting and Jeremy Cox’s imagery fits a particular vision for Kate, one mired in darkness and regret. Epting showcases cryptic environments that appear to be detailed but are often obscured by shadow and distance. Cox is not one to use a wide palette, further closing the tone and feel of the issue. The art team makes Kate’s world feel small, narrow, conveying what I feel the story set out to do: put her in a position that feels inescapable, dank, murky.

There’s something to Batwoman #1 that I think fits the character and her penchant for long lost memories. The setup is nice, and the shell that holds the story is one that is evocative and intriguing. Yet, I would have liked more from the story: more info on the past, more exploration of Kate’s feelings beyond frustration, more ties, even if subtle, between Coryana and what transpired in Kapalicarsi. There’s promise, but the narrative is built around a ‘wait-and-see’ approach which did not gauge as much interest from me as I expected. I want to know what happened and will happen in Coryana, but I need more to go on, too.

The Verdict: 7.5/10



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