Batwoman Annual #2

"Batwoman Annual" #2 brings a slightly troubled series to a close. Unfortunately, Marc Andreyko, Georges Jeanty, Yishan Li, Roberto Vicava, Ronan Cliquet, Karl Story, Dexter Vines and Guy Major wrap up Kate Kane's comic adventures in a manner that makes one suspect that the cancellation came before the creators were ready for this story to conclude.

Having finally caught up with the (deliberately) out-of-sequence first chapter to this storyline, Andreyko brings Batwoman and company back to earth in the annual, just in time for Morgaine to have transformed the world (or at least Gotham) into a medieval setting. From there, Batwoman, Clayface, Red Alice and Ragman struggle through a world in which they no longer belong while still trying to find an ally to help defeat Morgaine once and for all. It's not a bad idea at all, but the story definitely races along and jumps from one moment to the next. That's a shame, because this doesn't feel like Andreyko's normal pacing. There are scenes that feel like they were supposed to set up something greater (most notably the one between Ragman and Red Alice) that stop dead in their tracks, and the arrival of old foes like Nocturna should have a little more bite but are ultimately dashed to one side.

The frustrating thing is that this storyline, over time, convinced me that a team containing Batwoman, Clayface, Ragman, Red Alice and Etrigan could have actually worked out in the long term. A modern "Demon Knights" of sorts, this mixture of personalities mostly looking for redemption felt like a superhero-meets-occult Island of Misfit Toys. We get a few small glimmers of that in "Batwoman Annual" #2 but, again, the pacing is so accelerated that it comes across like Andreyko had to sacrifice a lot of character moments in favor of simply wrapping everything up as quickly as possible.

Not helping matters is having Jeanty, Li, Vicava and Cliquet all pencil portions of the book; add in multiple inkers (several of which tackle Jeanty's pencils) and it's a textbook case of an inconsistent look. Jeanty's pages, in particular, look a little rough; for example, I can't figure out what the heck is going on at the end of the book with Ragman and Clayface, due to there being a complete lack of visual context for the moment. Where are they? Are those button down shirts or uniforms? Whatever Andreyko had planned as part of the wrap-up for those two, it's lost on me -- and, no doubt, other readers. Cliquet and Vicava's pencils ultimately stand out as the cleanest and easiest to follow here -- they're a bit evocative of earlier series artist Jeremy Huan -- but, in the end, they're surrounded by varying degrees of chaos.

"Batwoman Annual" #2 feels like it's struggling to the finish line with a conclusion that has lost a lot of its energy and punch. Kudos go to a strong final page script from Andreyko, but it doesn't change the fact that this was a storyline that had slowly picked up some real steam and then lost it all at the conclusion. I'm more than willing to write this off as a problem with the book's cancellation, but it doesn't change the fact that, with the uneven art, it's a disappointing final note for a great character.

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