Batwoman #18 is the dawn of a new era for our favorite lesbian superhero. The year-and-a-half Medusa storyline is finally finished. Flamebird is fully functional once again, with a new costume and a new name: Hawkfire. J.H. Williams III has handed over the book’s art to Trevor McCarthy. What else? Oh, right: Beth Kane is secretly alive and she and Kate are also sisters(?!) to Director Bones, and Kate unmasked herself to Maggie and popped the marriage question.
If you were hoping for progress on those last two things — you know, the enormous story bombs from issue #17 — you’re out of luck. Batwoman #18 is a bit of a filler issue, a bridge to what’s next for our favorite caped crusader.
The story picks up in the middle of a battle between Batwoman/Hawkfire and Mr. Freeze. But neither of our heroes are working on their own. Piping instructions into Bette’s ear (and using Bette’s eyes to spy on his own kid) is Colonel Kane. And Batwoman’s got the D.E.O. doing the same to her. Mr. Freeze is as bamboozled as Col. Kane about what the heck Batwoman is doing there. He hasn’t technically committed any crimes lately that would summon a Bat his way, but Batwoman says it was only a matter of time. Jacob tells Bette that Kate is posturing, “play-acting,” and he’s right. She’s after Mr. Freeze’s technology on behalf of the D.E.O., but really she’s just biding her time with them to keep her dad out of trouble.
And if all of those twisty-turny machinations weren’t enough for Batwoman to deal with, her fight is broken up by the goddamn Batman himself. He descends onto the scene in an eerie blue glow and says he knows Kate’s gotten herself wrapped up in something dark and complicated — why else would she be busting one of his arch-rivals? — and offers to help her extricate herself from the situation, whatever it is. He also wants to take Mr. Freeze’s gun back to the Batcave and analyze it himself. But unlike everyone else in the Bat-family, Kate’s not particularly intimidated by Batman, so she offers him half of Mr. Freeze’s gun and bounces.
Director Bones and Agent Chase realize they’re never going to be able to control Batwoman, so they bring in a black ops psychologist called Agent Asaf, whose main suggestion is that they blackmail her by threatening even more things she loves.
Speaking of which, Maggie Sawyer finally appears at the very end of the issue. She’s apartment shopping. She needs something big, something downtown, something on the top floor with rooftop access. She needs a place for two offices, loads of gym equipment, and god only knows how much power and broadband access. Why? “My fiance does a lot of work with computers. She works nights.” Fiance, eh? Fiance! Looks like she said yes to Kate’s proposal!
Wait, why didn’t we get to see her say yes to Kate’s proposal?!
And that brings me to my favorite thing about Batwoman #18. Before her solo title launched, there was a whole lot of comics forum chatter about how longtime fanboys would never be able to relate to a lesbian superhero, especially if the creative team was going to refuse — like they did during her Detective Comics run — to pander to the male gaze. But Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams, and then Williams and Blackman, refused to do any kind of winking or nudging at fanboy libido. They simply set out to create an awesome superhero comic. So, imagine DC’s surprise when issue #18 hit stands and dudes everywhere sent up a heartfelt, collective cry about: “But what happened with the proposal? Show the answer to the proposal! You’re robbing us of the heart of the story!”
Because love is love, and heroes are heroes.
Hopefully Williams and Blackman have a flashback in the hopper, because we need to see that. We neeeed it.
The only other notable thing about issue #18 is the leap from Williams to McCarthy in the art department. McCarthy made the transition as seamless as possible, employing several two-page spreads and plenty of creative layouts, both of which have become trademarks of Batwoman under Williams’ skilled pen. I, for one, am really impressed with the caliber of his work. Batwoman #18 breathed in brand new ways, and I’m excited to see what’s next.
What did you think of Batwoman #18?