Kate and Maggie make out and beat up bad guys together in “Batwoman #21″

Batwoman Wednesdays usually find me making a mad dash to my comic book shop, but I confess I wasn’t as eager for Batwoman #21 as I usually am, which, it turns out, was really dumb because this is one of my favorite stories in the entire series run. #21 is a standalone issue told from Waylon Jones/Killer Croc’s point of view. In it, he grapples with his transformation at the hands of Medusa, with his past (both as a human and as a monster), and with Batwoman and Maggie Sawyer, who have finally teamed up to fight crime together. Equal partners, in every way.

Croc spends the first half of the issue explaining how he survived after Medusa transformed him into Hydra and he ripped up half of Gotham City. A group of werebeasts dragged him to their underground lair — their church — and invited him to become king of their shapeshifting congregation. He even finds a girlfriend down there. The only thing he has to do prove that he’s the messiah is to kill Batwoman. He worries he’ll waste his time fighting Nightwing or Batman if he heads up to Gotham and just starts swinging, but the werebeast leader, Jered, has a better idea.

Croc tells us: “This cop, this Maggie Sawyer, Jered says she’s got Batwoman’s scent all over her. I’m thinking maybe they’re the same chick.”

Croc stalks down Maggie, who’s sitting on the hood of her police car drinking coffee and looking out over her city, and lies in wait to see if she’ll turn into Batwoman. Instead, Maggie’s lady love rolls up on her new Batcycle and they flirt and make out a little bit.

The follow-up panel is one of my favorites. Maggie and Kate embrace one another and Croc goes, “Okay, I didn’t see that one coming.”

Maggie and Batwoman team up to take down Croc together, which surprises him because he assumes Batwoman will be weak because she’ll have to protect her lady. But nope! They wallop him good and hard, and then Flamebird shows up to play. Ultimately, Croc decides that killing Batwoman is maybe the stupidest idea he’s ever had, not only because he probably can’t do it, but also because if he manages to succeed, even Wonder Woman will come after him. Instead, he taps into the very quiet human part of himself and flees. He and his girlfriend take off to a safe place, but it won’t be long until they’re back in Gotham again.

In addition to being Batwoman‘s third interlude, the title also switches things up this month by handing art and coloring duties over to Francesco Francavilla and Todd Klein, and boy, did they ever deliver. JH Williams seems like an impossible act to follow, but I actually think this is the most beautiful the book has ever been. Even the lettering was remarkable. And Williams and Blackman have got to be applauded for continuing to keep Kate’s sexuality at the forefront of their story while treating it as a non-issue.

If you haven’t ever read Batwoman, but are looking for a place to start, #21 is a great jumping off point. You can meet Maggie and Kate and get a feel for the pulpy pathos of the title. And next month the main story starts a brand new arc as Kate & Co. carry out their plans to unmask Batman himself!

What did you think of Batwoman #21?

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