With “Batwoman” #6, Amy Reeder steps on board as the other half of the art team for the title. Technically we’ve seen her work on the character a year ago in “Batwoman” #0 (co-illustrated with J.H. Williams III), but this is her first full issue. And, as such, there’s going to be a lot of attention paid to it, and to her contribution in particular.
It goes without saying that Reeder is not Williams, and to expect her to be otherwise is unfair to both of them. The good news is that Reeder’s art is, in its own right, something to be welcomed. It’s a little more cartoony in places than we’ve had on “Batwoman” so far, but it quickly establishes its own look and feel. On the third page when Batwoman is looking up while the new villain taunts her, the way that the strands of hair fall over her face (and a slight trickle of blood moves down from her lip to chin) sets a stage as something that’s in the same mold of the “Batwoman” title but still feels like Reeder’s own rendition of the character.
Williams and W. Haden Blackman don’t force Reeder into the numerous double-page spreads that the first storyline had, but this more traditional layout still brings the atmosphere and mood. Seeing Maro up through the water is wonderfully creepy, and Maggie pulling out the framed picture from her desk is a moment of quiet emotion. Reeder does do a good job with the double-page spreads that she does draw, though; the bullets being shot in the alleyway is well staged, and the following spread with the aftermath is perfectly executed in terms of the focus of the images, ending with that smile.
It’s actually Williams and Blackman’s script which doesn’t feel as strong this month to me. It’s probably in part due to their storytelling structure, which splits the issue into six different viewpoints, dwelling on each for just a few pages. It’s all part of a larger story even as it jumps back and forth in time. While you can see how it all connects, it does mean that it feels like not much progression is made in the overall plot. With a few more issues I suspect it’ll feel much fuller, but for now this is definitely a “tip of the iceberg” story rather than a fully robust chapter.
“Batwoman” #6 isn’t a bad debut for Reeder, although I do wish that her first storyline had given her a slightly more memorable script. Still, there’s no doubt in my mind that as we wade deeper into “To Drown the World,” that problem will be solved. Until then, though, it’s a good start.