When DC announced that Wonder Woman would be joining Batwoman for a multi-episode arc under the skilled pens of J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman, you couldn’t have reigned in my excitement with a golden lasso, but even my astronomical expectations didn’t prepare me for the triumph of the team-up. This month’s Batwoman #13 is the best issue this award-winning title has ever produced. In fact, it might be the best comic book of the entire year.
It seems like Wonder Woman is everywhere in the DC universe right now. She’s got her own title, she’s got a solo arc going in Justice League, and she’s anchoring at least three issues of Batwoman. Obviously, Wonder Woman is the most globally recognized, universally adored female superhero in the history of comic books. Her mythology is denser than most other mainstream female superheros combined. And because of that, every writing team explores her character a little differently. Williams and Blackman have chosen to humanize her by examining her reaction to Batwoman’s reaction to her.
Kate Kane may be the only woman in comics today who could keep her cool in the presence of Wonder Woman, but even her studied calm and grace under pressure don’t prevent her from nearly losing control of their airplane every time Diana opens her mouth. The two tackle the underworld looking for Medusa, or at least looking for some clues about the whereabouts of Medusa so they can finally rescue those kidnapped kids and bring them home to Gotham. It takes all of Batwoman’s willpower not to hide behind Diana as they descend deeper and deeper into a corpse-filled labyrinth. Ultimately, they are both captured — Batwoman goes down without much of a fight, actually — by a putrid, mythical centipede monster who tells them that Medusa is planning some kind of blood ritual/sacrifice with the kids. Batwoman is unconscious for quite a while, causing Diana to wonder if she’s dead, but it turns out that she was just readying her Bat-gadgets while Diana distracted the monster. They escape and head to the desert to face down another demigod.
During all the action, both Diana and Kate have their own emotional crises. Kate is consumed with guilt after leaving Maggie at home to deal with the kidnapped kids case on her own. She consoles herself by remembering that the best way to help Maggie is to find these kids, but from Maggie’s point-of-view, she knows it will seem like she just abandoned her. Diana, on the other hand, is having a bit of an existential crisis about being made of Greek mythology. She wonders if her fate is to descend into madness and darkness like so many of Zeus’ other creations, but, like everything else in her life, she faces it with courage and aplomb.
Bette and Jake get their own two-page spread. Jake is trying to work out his guilt for screwing up both of his daughters by screwing up his niece. And Agent Chase and Director Bones plot the best way to keep Batwoman — and by extension Flamebird — under their thumbs.
But even the layered, terrifying, inspiring storytelling takes a backseat to Willimas’ art and layouts. I mean, I know I say that every month, but the truth is that Williams keeps out-Williams-ing himself. The two-page spread of Batwoman and Wonder Woman wandering through the maze, and then the two-page spread of them facing down the Nyx, are seriously unparalleled artistic achievement. There isn’t an artistic mind like Williams’ working anywhere else in comics today. He is a legitimate genius.
Are you reading the Wonder Woman arc in Batwoman? What do you think so far?