Written by Marc Andreyko
Art by Georges Jeanty, Karl Story, Scott Hanna, Dexter Vines, and Guy Major
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: October 15, 2014
Batwoman is no longer alone in her pursuit of supernatural foes that haunt Gotham City, as the Unknowns have been assembled. Etrigan, the demon of hell with a penchant for rhyme! Ragman, a collector of souls whose shroud hides many mysteries! Clayface, a literal golem who has been more fiend than friend! And Red Alice, the sister Batwoman thought she had lost forever, capable of great darkness and maybe redemption!
Marc Andreyko had a fairly rough ride taking over Batwoman amid some controversy and a deeply well-defined direction, and for the most part, he seems to have settled in well. The last few months of his run has narrowed the focus on Kate from things constantly happening to her toward driving her own destiny and decisions. In a way, I sense this was preparation for the leadership role she now seems ready and able to take on, and while we don’t get to see its genesis in this issue, we begin to see its result.
Jumping in with both feet to a brand new story midstream is always a tricky proposition, and like the previous creative team’s experimentation with time jumps, this has a mixed result. Taken at face value, the events of this issue are compelling and interesting, showcasing Kate and her new compatriots in a totally foreign environment for all of them — outer space. It’s wacky to be sure, and the very idea alone garners a lot of good will. Having Batwoman appear anywhere but a darkened street corner is a nice reprieve, but facing off against Morgaine Le Fay and her demons at the tail end of a satellite? It’s too good.
And for the most part, it works. But its placement as the introduction to an entirely new direction is troubling, particularly in relationship to last month’s Futures End issue, a magnificent story that already took us out of time and gave us a glimpse of what was possible for this team. Had that issue not been the lead-in it already was, or had this one included some sense of flashback, it wouldn’t feel so much like the reader was being thrown into something we can’t possibly care about… yet. I trust we will, particularly the reborn relationship between Kate and Elizabeth, but there’s nothing to feel until the foundation is at least hinted at.
Jeanty’s first issue as new regular artist is a strong start nonetheless, taking on the characters in this totally foreign environment and capturing what makes most of them work. His opening page is actually one of my favorites since Andreyko’s start on Batwoman. The physicality of space, while I’m sure not 100% accurate, does reflect some zero gravity action-reaction, so as to immerse me in the environment.
The panel with Alice’s decompression is particularly haunting, as is what begins to occur with Ragman’s shroud, but overall, the issue is a great warm-up to what hopefully will be a longer commitment. This book needs a solid artist behind it to succeed, particularly one who can balance action and emotion as clearly as it seems Jeanty can.
A solid chapter in a new storyline that might have been better off split across two or postponed one month, Batwoman #35 has a lot of visual fun, but just feels out of place as a 180 degree shift and jumping on point. I’m committed to the book because I think the concept of the Unknowns is outstanding. I’m hoping fans will have the patience to see where it’s going before taking a leap away.
The Verdict: 7.5/10