It’s an all-new start for an all-new arc! It’s the All-New Batwoman! Wait, wrong company…
Manhunter writer Marc Andreyko kicks off his first arc on Batwoman with a bang! He takes on a lighter tone that’s different from—but doesn’t feel too far off of—J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman’s work on the title. This really showed in his dialogue and character interactions, which were enjoyable to read, bringing a fresh and new feel to the title. The introduction of Evan Blake, a friend of Kate’s, adds a fun dynamic to an already interesting cast that livens up the dialogue and makes it a bit snappier than before. Over the course of Batwoman, Bette Kane has undergone a journey that has allowed her to grow into her own. She’s made some great strides as a character so far and it was nice to see that her relationship with Kate here feels more like a symbiotic partnership than a typical mentor-sidekick one.
This issue sets the foundation for what seems to be a promising story with an interesting villain. Andreyko begins this issue with a little bit of mystery; pulling us to Gotham City in 1929 to witness the suicide of an artist. The present day Gotham segments are bookended with our new villain, The Wolf Spider, who has been stealing paintings. The Wolf Spider is a new villain with proper mixture of cockiness and sarcasm that makes it hard not to like him. Despite this only being his first issue, the Wolf Spider has the makings of a classic villain and a fantastic addition to Batwoman’s rogues gallery. His costume design has a simplicity to it that makes it both aesthetically pleasing and extremely striking.
While Jeremy Haun has a very different style from J.H. Williams III, it does manage to be reminiscent of Trevor McCarthy’s work at times. Haun’s art is very complimentary to Andreyko’s writing, and when combined with Guy Major’s colors, it helps keep the entire issue visually in-line with what came before. The scenes with Kate Kane out of costume are brighter with crisp, clean lines, while the scenes of her in costume are darker, with heavier and muddier shadows.
There’s a severe lack of resolution resulting from the departure of Williams III and Blackman. Batwoman #24 ended on the precipice of a massive conclusion as our favorite red-haired Heroine became embroiled in a heated confrontation with The Dark Knight. Batwoman’s last arc, “This Blood Is Thick”, had been shaping up to be a monumental story for the character. Spanning seven issues, it set out to clearly define both Batwoman and Hawkfire’s place in Gotham City. In addition, Hawkfire—who started off in Batwoman as a mere sidekick—grew considerably over the course of the arc and was in the middle of a major mission before the cliffhanger ending. However, both Batwoman #25—a “Zero Year tie-in”— and this Batwoman #26 are void of any conclusion to the previous arc, instead throwing us straight into a new one. While the decision to let Andreyko build a story of his own is understandable, it comes across as a slap in the face to long-time readers to put off the conclusion until the Batwoman Annual in April 2014.
Batwoman #26 is the must-read start of a brand new arc and a great starting point for new readers. Marc Andreyko and Jeremy Haun start off strong right out of the gate to bring a fresh new take on Batwoman that readers both new and old are sure to enjoy.