The wait is finally over as everything comes to a head and all plans are set into motion. The fight begins here: Batwoman versus Batman.
In recent months Batwoman has been surrounded by a string of controversies. W. Haden Blackman and J.H. Williams III announced on September 5th that due to issues with the editorial staff they would be leaving Batwoman after finishing their current arc with issue 25.
Shortly after, Dan Didio (DC’s Co-Publisher) generated much confusion when he announced Blackman and Williams last issue would be #24, not #25, making what was their penultimate issue the final one. These recent controversies and more caused massive fan backlash at DC’s treatment of a creative team that consistently delivered one of the best books The New 52 has had to offer, cutting short a long overarching story that was all coming to a head in this last arc. It would be akin to AMC removing Vince Gilligan and the rest of Breaking Bad’s writing staff from the final episode and bringing in someone new to write a cross over with The Walking Dead or Mad Men.
That being said, Batwoman #24 was another incredible issue from Blackman, Williams, and artist Trevor McCarthy. This is an arc that’s gotten better and better with each issue, constantly improving and growing. Blackman and Williams pacing is near perfect, and their dialogue and exposition is compelling.
This issue pulled me in from the start, and every single page and panel captivated and filled me with a child-like glee as it built up to the fight we’ve been waiting so long for. The entire art team (Trevor McCarthy, Sandu Florea, Derek Fridolfs, and Guy Major) all deserve a round of applause for an absolutely beautiful issue that I thumbed through a few extra times just to look at the art. The art has always been an important part of Batwoman, and whether Williams or McCarthy it’s always been gorgeous.
The issue starts off immediately after the end of the previous one as the D.E.O. sets free some of Batman’s most dangerous Rogues as bait. Now the Tweedles (Dee and Dum), Mad Hatter, Poison Ivy, Riddler, and Bane are causing mayhem in the streets of Gotham in hopes of attracting Batman’s attention. As ruthless and effective as D.E.O. Director Bones and Agent Chase are, they are control freaks at their core.
They seek and gain control by whatever means necessary, even resorting to blackmail and bribery in the case of Kate Kane, and have set their sights on Batman (whose identity they’d wanted earlier as leverage over him). To limit any x-factors they cement their control over Gotham by declaring Martial Law and locking the City down and effectively removing the GCPD from the board. This is something that Harvey Bullock and Detective Maggie Sawyer, Kate Kane’s fiancée, don’t take too kindly to and confront Agent Chase about.
Batwoman watches the chaos unfold from a distance waiting for Batman to show himself. Kate isn’t comfortable with how things have turned out, cursing herself and thinking more than once of calling the entire thing off and interfering. Kate has always internalized things and is often far too hard on herself, a trend that continues here as she feels she owes Gotham a lifetime of service after allowing the D.E.O. to do this. The tension builds until Batman finally shows himself, leading to an incredible fight between him and Kate where she starts to put all the Intel she gathered on him to the test.
There was a lot of payoff here from previous issues in the arc and not just on Kate’s side. The B-Plot this issue followed Bette Kane, Kate’s cousin, whose training over the last several issues has led up to her infiltrating the D.E.O. Headquarters to rescue Kate’s sister, Alice. I’ve said it before but I absolutely love Bette’s character development in this book. She’s truly grown from bratty side-kick material into a kick ass potential hero.
That we had to wait two months for this issue to come out due to Villains month and that we’ll have to wait another two months for the conclusion due to next month’s “Zero Year” tie-In. The biggest negative however is that this is W.Haden Blackman and J.H. William’s final issue.
Batwoman #24 was everything I was looking forward to and more. It was a non-stop action filled thrill building up to what will surely be one hell of a climax. W. Haden Blackman and J.H. Williams III have truly given us something great in their run on Batwoman.
It’s been an unforgettable journey in which they explored a side of Gotham not often seen in the other Batman books while crafting, defining, and delving deep into a colorful cast of characters who are just as unforgettable as the stories they were in. It was an adventure and you never knew where the next arc would take you. While not perfect, Batwoman is a unique experience that will stay with me for years to come and I wish we could have seen the future they’d planned for Kate Kane.
Next month Marc Andreyko, best known for his work on Manhunter, takes over for a Batman: Zero Year crossover.