Caution: This post is full of spoilers for Batwoman #4.
After Batwoman’s remarkable, GLAAD award-winning run in Detective Comics, DC pushed her solo title release date back so many times it felt like we were never going to see our favorite lesbian heroine again. So, when I was on my way to the comic shop this morning to pick up Batwoman #4, I thought to myself, “I can’t believe it’s really happening! New Batwoman every month!” And as I sat in the comic shop parking lot slack-jawed after finishing Batwoman #4, I said out loud, “I can’t believe this book actually exists.”
When last we left our lesbian heroine, she’d accidentally goaded Flamebird back into action, accidentally abandoned a date with Detective Maggie Sawyer, and accidentally nearly drowned under the sinister ministrations of The Weeping Woman. Batwoman #4 picks up right where we left off. Well, maybe not right where we left off. Flamebird has managed to make her way to the blood-stained back alleys of Gotham City while Maggie and Kate have managed to make their way to bed.
There isn’t a comic book artist working today who can lay out a page like J.H. Williams III, and the first seven pages of this issue are some of his best work yet. We get full-color, full-fisticuffs splash pages of Flamebird picking fights with hooligans because she’s got something to prove to herself and to Kate, but interwoven into the action are striking pencil drawings of Maggie and Kate in bed together. The dissonant effect is stunning.
Comic book sex is almost always disheartening to female readers, because comic book sex is almost always laden with objectifying imagery in which female characters are treated like porn stars. But J.H. Williams has given us the exact opposite of that. There’s a sensual intimacy about the presentation of Maggie and Kate in bed together, as opposed to the voyeuristic titillation we’ve seen in DC’s other New 52 titles. (Voodoo, anyone? Catwoman?) Williams isn’t winking at and nudging fan boys, cackling about, “Bro, look! Two chicks doing it!” He’s telling an authentic story about well-rounded characters who fall into bed together because they’re seeking pleasure and comfort in each other’s arms.
You know, like real life.
It is astonishing to me that a mainstream comic book publisher has produced a sexy, sex-positive, female-friendly title. And the fact that the title focuses on their only leading lesbian character, frankly, boggles my mind — in the very best way.
While Kate and Maggie are pillow dancing, Flamebird is dying. Or, well, she’s getting slashed up by some super-villain wielding a chainsaw hook-hand. And who should find her bleeding to death in an abandoned warehouse? Oh, just Agent Chase, the woman who is on a single-minded mission to unmask Batwoman. Chase spends the back half of the book trying to identify Flamebird and assess her connection to the Bat Family, while Kate redoubles her efforts to find the missing children The Weeping Woman water-napped.
The pacing is perfect, the art and coloring are incomparable, and the story just keeps getting better. The issue ends with D.E.O. boss Bones smoking his trademark cigar and smarming, “You’ve unmasked one of Batman’s shadow soldiers. There’s no way I’m missing what comes next.”
Neither am I, creepy skeleton chief. Neither am I.
What did you think of Batwoman #4?