Alex Lynch Reviews: BATWOMAN: VOL 3 - WORLD'S FINEST By J.H. Williams III
J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman's third volume of their acclaimed Batwoman series has hit the shelves this week in all comic book stores, so what did I think of it? Check out my take on this superheroine after the jump!
Batwoman – Vol 3 – World’s Finest By J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman
To me, Batwoman is an interesting case. I was never interested in her because I never thought she was an interesting character. Mainly because I never actually read comics featuring her, so when Batwoman Volume 3 dropped in my lap, I shunned it for a little bit. Eventually, I picked it up and skimmed a couple pages from the first chapter and was absolutely hooked and started reading it from the start. I’d thought that starting with Volume 3 would make me lost, but the fact that this book contains issue #0 really helped. Regardless, Batwoman is one of the most fleshed out characters in DC comics right now with an interesting range of supporting characters. Her adventures are superb which are sprung to life by the beautiful artwork by J.H. Williams III, who manages to capture each page in a different and unique way that compliments Blackman and Williams’ intellectual narrative storytelling. Batwoman: World’s Finest not only further develops the story behind Kate Kane, but it also makes Wonder Woman a very stronger character and more battle-oriented which I enjoyed. This volume of the series sets a new standard – to me – for female-driven comics. It features everything you could ever ask for in a graphic novel; a well-developed cast of characters, a complex but easy-to-follow storyline, eye-popping art and a good ol’ fashioned cliffhanger. This book is definitely a must-buy and is available now at all comic shops.
The book starts out with a parallel between Wonder Woman and Batwoman, each on their separate adventure. Eventually, we learn that Batwoman is hunting for Bloody Mary with Abbot, her werewolf friend. This is where we really get a feel of how innovative J.H. Williams III’s artwork is. This book at times ditches the classic panel-to-panel layout in double-page spreads and just immediately focuses on making the best artwork possible that works for the story parallels. However, when he does use panels, they are not standard black boxes, but instead come in many unique forms. The first chapter of the book explores almost everything we need to know to get started; the disappearance of Gotham City’s children, how Kate’s family is coping with a tragic event and how Kate meets Wonder Woman. It’s a very great way to kick-start a fantastic adventure. Honestly, there are no cons in the intro for this book.
The next issue is Batwoman #0, which not only gives us a look at her origins, but also sets up some strings that will be pulled later on (something I wish more #0 issues did). This chapter opens with a nice, tragic chapter with Batwoman which quickly dives into an interesting moment in Kate’s childhood which now has more of a standard comic book page layout and artwork. This whole issue focuses on Kate’s unique background and training (to eventually become a vigilante). What I loved about the #0 issue is that we see Kate through almost every stage of her life, her first fight, her first romantic hookup, her first alcoholic collapse and most importantly, her first meeting with Batman. I love Batwoman’s origin because it’s not necessarily unique, but it’s not formulaic or generic and boring. The ending of the 0 issue will surprise the hell out of you and make you see just how strong of a female character she is.
I particularly enjoyed the next issue because this is the one that tells the story, visually, in the most creative way. The placement of narration is fantastic and (due to Williams’ brilliant mind) isn’t restricted to small textboxes in the corners of panels. For the most part, I found the thought parallels between Batwoman and Wonder Woman meeting each other to be a very nice look at perspective and I definitely enjoy that Batwoman: Vol 3 isn’t restricted to the title character’s point of view. Nevertheless, it was fun seeing a subtle-but-starstruck Batwoman make awkward conversation with Diana, and I’d love to see these two team up in whatever way possible in the future (this book would make a great Warner Bros Animated flick).
Honestly, I feel there’s no way to say anymore without getting into highly spoilery territory, I want you to go into this book as fresh as I did: with little-to-no knowledge. J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman are narrative masterminds and set a HUGE new standard for the character. I’ve never enjoyed a book this much in a long time, but Batwoman Vol 3 DOES indeed have its problems such as a very rushed conclusion to its main conflict (which I’m sure will be built upon in the next volume, but didn’t fit right in the context of a trade) which was an utter disappointment due to the fantastic previous dozens of pages. All in all, Haden and Blackman really reinvented what it means to be a comic book, and that’s what I love to see in this day and age. (Andrea Sorrentino is constantly mixing it up over on Green Arrow, as well.) From lavishly gorgeous and creative panel borders to ravishing page layouts that would be unimaginable to the average mind accompanied by deep and amazing writing, Batwoman isn’t one to miss as it explores plenty of things you’d want in a comic; mythological creatures, destruction, kick-ass females, betrayal, surprise friends or foes and much, much more. Batwoman is out NOW in all comic stores, so to ensure you can get a copy from your LCS, call up and order one if they don’t have it in stock! A definite buy for any DC Comics, Batman or Wonder Woman fan.
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