Just when I was settling into the assured embrace of my monthly issue of Batwoman, things got super dramatic behind the scenes. Amy Reeder, one of the only female artists or writers on any New 52 title, took over art duties from co-writer J.H. Williams III with Issue #6 in February to mixed reviews, and almost as soon as Issue #7 hit stands last month, DC announced they were pulling Reeder from the project. No one seemed happy. Reeder said some things on her blog; Williams said some things on his blog; DC said some things to some comics-based sites; and I basically just flopped onto the floor and clutched Batwoman: Elegy to my chest and prayed to Sappho that that the creative scuffle wouldn’t ruin the best thing going in the world of mainstream comics right now.
Batwoman #8 (Reeder’s last) dropped yesterday, and it is a doozy!
We’re halfway through Batwoman‘s second full story-arc, “To Drown the World,” and writers are still clinging to their non-linear vignette line of storytelling. I’ll be honest: I read Kate/Batwoman’s, Maggie Sawyer’s, and Agent Chase’s stories before I paid any attention to the rest of them. I mean, I love a good supernatural thriller as much as the next nerd, but I prefer lady heroes kissing to sociopaths chopping off children’s arms. Actually, Maggie and Kate’s romance is a perfect place to kick off the discussion because it has been the most consistently awesome thing about this series so far.
Last issue, Kate and Maggie were enjoying a romantic dinner together when Kate spotted one of Batwoman’s arch-enemies skulking around outside, so of course she bolted from the restaurant and accosted him in the street before returning to Maggie’s side with a smile and a flippant, “Aw, it was nothing.” This issue, we see that Kate and Maggie are having trouble connecting. They’re both chasing down MEDUSA from different angles, so that’s keeping them busy, but also Kate has reverted to that aloof cold shoulderism that plagues everyone in the Bat family. You know who’s not giving Maggie space, though? Agent Chase. She’s tailing her every second of every day, and when the time is right, she tells Batwoman she’s going to have to mine her girlfriend for information.
Batwoman ends up crashing Detective Sawyer’s criminal transport party (Why is Maggie so sexy captaining that ship?!) and accidentally shooting her up with the industrial strength elephant tranquilizer mixed with Scarecrow fear gas that Sawyer gave her in issue #7. Just when you think their love life couldn’t get any more tortured!
While the pacing of these non-linear “To Drown the World” issues has been wonky (and at times sloppy), Maggie and Kate’s relationship has progressed beautifully. The emotion is so real and so raw that it grounds the series in a way Kate’s other relationships — even with her sister and dad and cousin — haven’t. It’s breaking my heart in the very best way.
But what about the heroism? Oh, there’s plenty of that. While acquiring an entire army of new nemeses, Batwoman is closing in on MEDUSA with her characteristic bravado and smirk. There’s a dandy amount of battles and blood in issue #8, don’t you worry. And I won’t spoil the ending for you, but Batwoman lands herself a shocking new ally on the final page.
I’m actually wondering if “To Drown the World” will read better when it is collected in a trade paper back. It doesn’t matter, I suppose; I’m still going to keep buying single issues as long as DC is selling them. The creative team did win another GLAAD award this year, after all. And even when it gets sloggy on the page and dicey behind the scenes, Batwoman is still the best title in the New 52.
What did you think of Batwoman #8?