Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Batwoman: Hydrology by JH Williams III and WH Blackman

Kate Kane is many things: "estranged daughter, grieving sister, proud lesbian, brave soldier, determined hero. She is Batwoman." In the first volume of the DC Comics New 52 series, Hydrology, Batwoman is battling on several fronts.

On the emotional side:
  • Her father wants to reconcile their differences and Kate isn't ready for that. (It's important to read Batwoman: Elegy first to understand the backstory in Hydrology.)
  • Her cousin Bette -- aka Flamebird -- is trying to convince her that she will be a good sidekick.
  • Her romantic involvement is with a member of the police force, which increases the danger should her vigilante identity be revealed.
On the crime-fighting side:
  • Two different organizations are attempting to learn Batwoman's civilian identity.
  • Children are disappearing from Gotham City.
The artwork is mostly by J.H. Williams III and features his striking layouts. One of the many effective pages shows La Llorona, the weeping woman, morphing through four grisly incarnations and facing a twinned Batwoman plus reflection. Layers of mythology. In other places, a series of graphite-type drawings are juxtaposed within full-colour action pages. I wasn't happy with this effect when it was used to contrast a sex scene between Kate and Maggie happening at the same time as a violent encounter between Flamebird and some baddies. It made me feel queasy, actually.

I loved the La Llarona element, however. Who knew dripping water could hold such menace? Readers with a fear of water might find this story especially scary.

Williams III is also the author, along with co-writer W. Haden Blackman. The story isn't quite as substantial as that in Greg Rucka's Elegy, but Hydrology certainly held my interest. I look forward to future issues.

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