Detective Comics #856

You are warned, here be spoilers.

DC comics is in a fascinating state of affairs with its two flagship titles: Action Comics isn’t currently about Superman, and Detective Comics isn’t currently about Batman. Both are being written by Greg Rucka.

At present, Detective is carrying stories of Katherine Kane, a.k.a. Batwoman. Putting her in what’s normally Batman’s title feels just a touch like an attempt to hijack Batman’s pre-existing readership, in a transparent bid for marketing gold. That said, it works. I’m intrigued by the story and the character, and I’ll be reading more of it.

When this new incarnation of Batwoman first appeared in 2006, much was made of the fact that she’s a lesbian. Much more interesting to me so far, though, is her family background. Her father is a Colonel, and helps her out – it’s hard tell from just how involved he is from just this issue, but it looks to be somewhere between “approving observer” and “partner”. I want to know more.

The JH Williams III’s art is utterly gorgeous. It has a touch of what I think of as being Marvel’s house style, a photo-referenced-feeling pseudo-painted effect that normally misses both the fluid representationism of more traditional comics art and the living realism of Alex Ross’s art. Somehow, though, it works here. There’s an ethereal quality to it, a tendency towards the pale, muted, and pastel, deliciously broken up by the occasional rich, bright or dark tone, as of Batwoman’s black uniform, and the brilliant red of her hair and her costume’s trim.

The central villainess – a porcelain-painted psychopath who’s obsessed with Alice in Wonderland, is an impressive creation, managing to be a clown-faced psychopath who fights a Bat-hero in Gotham without being a Joker ripoff. Her manner evokes the Creepy Doll / Creepy Child tropes, and yet she’s not shy about dual-wielding a pair of Sig Sauers.

All in all, a fascinating read – more promising than impressive. I intend to keep reading.