By Jonathan Edwards
Much like myComic Bastards colleague Daniel Vlasaty (who reviewed Batwoman Rebirth #1), the eponymous Batwoman is a character that's remained more on the periphery for me. My prior exposure to her amounts to the recent Night of the Monster Men crossover and just a general awareness of her existence. However, it turns out that the introductory arc of her new solo series deals in part with the aftermath of that crossover. Namely, Kate Kane has been tasked with hunting down the party responsible for selling the same kind of "Monster Venom" that was used to create the Monster Men. Of course, this turns out to not be so cut and dry for Kate, as it appears to be connected to the events of the "lost year" of her early-20s.
And really, that's about all we get from this issue. It's a pretty standard introduction and setup to the character and story arc, where nothing in particular is all-that sacrificed or missing. But at the same time, nothing really makes this book stand out or feel particular defined tonally or thematically. It's just kind of "a superhero book" with a lead that "has a past." You're either going to buy into it or not, but either way I can't see this ending up as anyone's most anticipated book in the coming months.
One thing that does ring strange in this issue has to do with the character Safiyah. She's someone from Kate's, seen in flashbacks where only the lower half of her face is depicted. It doesn't take a genius to realize this is an attempt to build mystique around the character. Except, in the Rebirth one-shot, she's shown in full. And since the intention and expectation of those one-shots is to attract readers to the main books, it's a bit head scratching that they'd introduce Safiyah so blatantly and then try to build up to her after the fact. Maybe it wouldn't have felt like such a problem if it didn't happen in every single flashback sequence, or if we saw her whole face again before the end of the issue.
Overall, the art works well enough. There's nothing spectacular on display, but it gets the job done. That being said, the flashbacks offer a bit more by using the black, white, and red aesthetic. It's a tried and true color scheme that, at this point, is probably getting close to overused (if it isn't already there). Although, it's pretty appropriate when the title character's design includes the same color scheme, and it does effectively distinguish the past from the present.
Batwoman is a series I was excited for, wanted to like, and thought I would, yet this first installment fell short. I'll probably at least give it a few more issues and hope it improves, but unless you're an avid fan of the character, or want to read everything that relates to the current Detective Comics run, this is a title you can probably get away with skipping.