While some of DC’s double-wide covers this month have hidden a surprise guest star or foe behind the fold, “Batwoman” #19 reveals more Trevor McCarthy art, loaded with meaning and subtext, but really just an extension of the “main” cover image. The story itself is quiet in comparison to some of the issues of “Batwoman,” as J. H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman use these twenty pages to provide explicit detail to the many underlying subplots focused on the relationships in this title that have been lingering since this book’s launch.
The most meaningful of those, for me, was Cameron Chase actively seeking out her sister, Terry. The two reflect on life and advice shared from one sister to the other, and through the five pages of that scene that opens this issue, Williams, Blackman and McCarthy provide enough emotional baggage for Agent Chase to spin her back out into her own title. That scene also stabilizes much of the story Chase endured prior to September 2011 and reminds readers just how much history, connectivity and ingenuity “Chase” brought to the DC Universe. The other relationships take small steps forward, to the side or even backwards as we see conversations between Maggie Sawyer and Kate Kane, Katherine (wasn’t it Catherine?) and Jacob Kane, Batwoman and Hawkfire, Batwoman and Mr. Bones and a not-so-surprising final conversation for readers who have been plugged in to this series all along.
Trevor McCarthy and Guy Major continue to wash this title in deep, rich blacks and bright reds, with everything else falling somewhere in between. McCarthy’s work carries plenty of influence and homage to Williams’ established visual excellence on this title. The artist tends to be a little more traditional in panel choices at points, but there are at least two spreads in this comic that Williams himself must certainly be proud to see from his artist. By contrast, the pages with Walden Wong on inks (pages 8-11) are enough of a departure from McCarthy’s work to be noticeable and truly look more like Wong is finishing layouts for McCarthy. It’s not a bad choice, especially if a fill-in or assist was needed for this issue, but it also doesn’t blend quite so seamlessly with the rest of McCarthy’s art in “Batwoman” #19, especially as Major has colored those pages with a different palette. Todd Klein adds an extra round of polish to the story, providing distinct lettering to the adventure, including a dynamic shift in word balloons for the final page of “Batwoman” #19. McCarthy’s work is especially effective in the flashback scenes during Terry and Cameron’s chat, where the color is bleached out or applied judiciously, relying upon stark imagery to convey emotional resonance.
All of the pieces that piqued my interest back in “Batwoman” #1 — Agent Chase, Director Bones, Bette Kane — get some sufficient panel time in this issue. Not one of the subplots those characters anchor gets wrapped up, but this issue provide me with enough of a hit to keep me checking in on this book a little more frequently from this point. “Batwoman” #19 is a fine sample of everything that fills Kate Kane’s corner of the DC Universe while teasing things to come.