Four issues in, I think it’s safe to say that J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman have proven that “Batwoman” is in good hands with the duo. While I don’t think anyone was too worried about the art (and we’ll get to that in a minute), the writing has turned out to be strong as well. In part four of their initial storyline, we get big development after big development, and more importantly they aren’t out of the blue.
Reading “Batwoman” #4, it becomes almost instantly clear how much the first three chapters set these turning points up. Not only are we learning the origin of the water spirit that keeps cropping up, but Flamebird’s superhero career takes a critically important turn, and Cameron Chase’s hunt for Batwoman takes a step into dangerous territory.
What’s nice is that each of the three main characters (Batwoman, Flamebird, Chase) get their own moments that show us who they are. Batwoman’s romantic side gets an outing here, and her putting together the pieces of the drowned woman’s identity reminds me of classic “Detective Comics” stories. It’s always nice to see main characters figuring things out and acting accordingly instead of just stumbling into the solution. Flamebird’s self-assurance and confidence that we’ve seen in the first three issues are well on display here, and we finally see her in a solo-outing here that highlights both her strengths and weaknesses, and not just the physical ones.
It’s Cameron Chase (who Williams co-created with D. Curtis Johnson back in the day) that gets to shine the most, though. She’s always been a tough character up until now, but this issue gives her a ruthless streak that is simultaneously brilliant and cruel. It’s a perfect way to show rather than tell the reader how good Chase is at her job, and it sets the stage beautifully for next month’s conclusion of this initial storyline.
As mentioned earlier, no one was worried about Williams’s art being up to snuff, and it’s beautiful as always. I adore how Williams uses double-page spreads to create large works of art that still contain sequential storytelling within their heart. The scene where Batwoman is coming in through the window and the panels are built into the swoop of her cape is gorgeous; it lets us see the entire room but split through moments of time. It’s an astounding usage of the comics medium. Every page is amazing, be it colored ink washes or traditional pencil and ink, and Williams makes each moment sing. Even elements like Kate and Maggie’s romantic moments are done with delicate care; the fogged out panels are tasteful and sensual, a great addition to the comic.
“Batwoman” has been a top-notch title since its debut, but with this latest issue everything has come together. Williams and Blackman have shown this to not just be a great comic at DC, but the best one at the company. Has “Batwoman” been worth the wait? Oh yes, definitely.