While “Batwoman” #0 feels very much like a pleasant return to the Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III “Detective Comics” run that preceded the “Batwoman” series, it still badly misses Rucka’s presence. While Williams’ art is as top notch as ever, he and W. Haden Blackman overwrite at almost every opportunity. It’s a shame because if anyone should know the power of Williams’ visuals alone, I’d hope it would be Williams himself. Overwriting aside, this is perhaps the strongest installment of “Batwoman” since the first few issues of the new series debuted.
As established in “Batwoman: Elegy” by Rucka and Williams, Williams returns to his brilliant visual contrasting between Kate Kane today and as Batwoman versus Kate Kane as a child. The Kate Kane present day story is a graphic master piece, slick and tight, precise and stunning, while the past work has a softness and looseness that suggests almost fuzzy memory and nostalgia. Either style on its own is powerful and gorgeous. When combined and contrasted, it’s phenomenal. Though the story in this issue is not particularly compelling, the art alone makes it worthwhile reading.
The story itself is overly expositional, in that the entire issue is a narrated letter from Kate to her father recounting some of their past together, and bringing readers up to current day. In such a beautiful book, it’s just a shame that Williams and Blackman couldn’t find a better way to let the images speak for themselves. That said, I think it’s a good jumping on point for anyone that hasn’t read “Batwoman” and that makes it a good zero issue. For someone reading since the beginning, it feels a little bit like a re-hash of what we’ve already seen, and it also shines a light on what was better about the original “Detective Comics” run opposed to the “Batwoman” run.
The issue bizarrely misspells Renee’s name twice (as Rene). It’s a glaring error and considering Renee Montoya’s presence has been all but abolished in the New 52 it’s a particularly bitter pill to swallow.
Though the story doesn’t offer much that we didn’t already know, it does bring an interesting twist to Kate’s idea of when she believes she finally “became Batwoman.” It’s a good moment that says a lot about the character on a lot of well layered levels, a story element worthy of the character and feels like the kind of important storytelling you would see for Bruce/Batman and other A-list characters. If only the rest of the issue had the gravitas of those last pages, this book would be a huge standout along with books like “Dial H” #0. Instead it’s just one of the better zero issues among a sea of mostly mediocre comics.