By Isaac Quattlebaum
Batwoman returns with the first part of a brand new arc: Pax Batmana. There’s an immediate change of pace with this issue. It’s set in the distant future specifically: Year Five of the Bat. Gotham City has been converted into a high tech empire ruled by a government of Batmen. We find Batwoman, Kate Kane, as the commander of a colony battleship returning to the occupied city after being gone from some time. From the details we are given it appears that at some point the Batman symbol was taken over by corrupt force resulting in the death of Bruce Wayne. This new world is filled with familiar faces from the Batman family. An eyepatch wearing Jason Todd seems to be Batwoman’s only ally and Harvey Bullock and Renee Montoya also make appearances. Allowing Bruce Wayne to die in this future helped free up the Batman presence that I felt sometimes takes over Batwoman stories. It also gives Kate Kane the burden of feeling guilty for her mentors demise and trying to carry on his legacy.
I think it was risky for DC to drop Batwoman readers into an alternate future with no warning or frame of reference. It’s not that it’s never been done before but the fact that it’s been done so often leaves little room for new ideas. But I feel that the storytelling made this new world intriguing. There was less a focus on the high tech visuals that are normally associated with futuristic storylines and more on the character relationships. The main relationship explored is the one between Kate Kane and Renee Montoya. Batwoman’s sexuality has always been a staple of her characters depth. In this issue her romance with Renee reemerges after years of the two women being a apart. There was some really touching scenes between the two.
Even with the new setting Batwoman #6 retains the noir color palette of the previous issues. Artist Renato Arlem and colorist Adriano Lucas do an amazing job bringing the beautiful cityscapes to life. There’s so much to explore in the backgrounds of the panels. The close ups of the characters faces are expressive and detailed. I enjoyed seeing older versions the characters. There wasn’t a great deal of action in this issue which made for a slow burn of set up until the explosive final pages.
Those who have been reading the current run of Batwoman will find this issue to be a departure and a pleasant surprise. The surprise paid off by adding a new history to Batwoman that will surely unravel as the arc continues. Batwoman has always stood out to me as a character in the Batman family but not of the Batman family. She’s someone who decided to take the bat symbol and use it for a new heroic identity. I think readers will feel the same internal struggle that Kate Kane does as she faces off against an enemy that has turned her symbol of hope into a symbol of fear. It’s clear that this first issue is just an introduction into the new setting. It was interesting to see the new interpretations of characters. There are a lot of questions that come up during the issue and it leaves an exciting cliffhanger that promises to reintroduce another Batman family fan favorite.
Overall I think that this issue gives just enough to attract an interest in the arc to follow. I’m intrigued to see if or how this alternate timeline will relate to the present. If it ends up being a self-contained story I think it has enough of the essence of the character of Batwoman that it will satisfy new and old fans.
Writer: Marguerite Bennett, James T. Tynion IV
Artist: Renato Alem
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Publisher: DC Comics