Though I remain a stalwart fan and proponent of “Batwoman,” I am glad this arc is over for a variety of reasons. “Batwoman” #11 by J.H. Williams, W. Haden Blackman, Trevor McCarthy and Pere Perez is a good example of why.
With a story that feels incredibly choppy (largely because it is), “Batwoman” #11 just doesn’t deliver the perfectly tied-together ending I needed in order to justify the way the creative team opted to tell the story. Since “Batwoman” #6, the series has dashed back and forth in time and between multiple character point of views. The monthly 20-page format proves far too short to handle the frenetic jumps. Just as readers become invested in a part of the story — emotionally or intellectually — they are yanked out and plunked somewhere else. Perhaps if the sections were longer or there were fewer pieces, it would work better, but as executed it just falls completely flat. It’s a story that may well read much better in trade, but since I’m reading it in single issues, I can only say that it doesn’t work in these tiny chunks.
I love it when a smart story can jump around like this and then tie everything together brilliantly and in unexpected ways, but this story doesn’t do that. As nice as it is to see the additional layers of multiple character POV’s, I’m hard-pressed to think of any reason why this wouldn’t have succeeded with a more direct approach. There was no amazing reveal that only worked because of the way the story was executed and for me, that’s the only reason to craft it this way.
Although I enjoy Agent Chase and Maggie Sawyer immensely, I’m not sure it was wise to make “Batwoman” a “team book” six issues in. I think I would have preferred letting Kate Kane continue to take the lead and build Chase and Sawyer as strong supporting characters in her world. As is, Chase and Sawyer fight Kate for page time and that’s just not what I’m looking for in this series.
Before I talk about the art, let’s be clear: Trevor McCarthy is a wonderful artist and this is a very pretty book. However, McCarthy missteps by trying to ape Williams’ approach, layouts and illustration style. Williams is in a class by himself when it comes to his illustration work and if the book can’t have Williams for every issue (and I understand why it can’t), then it would be better to have something different, rather than a pale imitation of his style. The art here is functional and there are some beautiful moments, but there’s just something missing. It feels too technical, as if McCarthy is doing paint by number, instead of making more organic emotional choices. McCarthy has an assist by Pere Perez in this issue, but I’m honestly not sure where. With both artists aping Williams, it’s hard to even tell them apart.
I appreciate that Williams and Blackman tried out this ambitious story. There were times when I thought it might work if it all tied together brilliantly in the end somehow, but the finale has not proven to be worth the confusion and disconnect. I’m certainly in for the next round, but I hope it’s more like the first arc.