For many, Batman: The Animated Series is the pinnacle of Batman; for others it is the Arkham video games (with the exception of Origins for some reason). So for all the while we get nods to B:TAS in White Knight, it’s the Arkham series that wins the “Can’t We just Do the Same Thing Again?” award this month with not one, in the Batman infected by the Joker riff in The Batman Who Laughs, but two such nods with the Arkham Asylum inspired Scarecrow with his reality altering fear toxin. And in case you missed the reference, there is of course the needle glove hand to make sure the point is made!
So Batwoman and her Colony cohort have managed to escape their cages. But thanks to the fear toxin, each sees some different horror. In addition, there are Daddy issues to resolve and the latest bat-gimmickry to save the day. I have to admit, I was looking forward to this series so much. I really like a lot of Marguerite Bennett’s work and I thought it was a good idea to get a different voice into the Bat-universe, especially when you consider how strong the character is in Detective Comics. So imagine my disappoint that after a couple of strong opening issues, the book fell into some sort of holding pattern of lost loves and island murder. Regardless of the imagery, this issue is all about the present and goes someway to redress the balance, especially as Batwoman seems to be defined by her actions here rather than who she loves. The dialogue is ok, if standard fare. I can’t wait to get back to crime solving and I really miss the give and take of the Kate and Julia relationship.
The art is provided by Fernando Blanco, which very much like the story, is serviceable at best. When this book was first announced one of the key selling points was that Steve Epting was on art. Now, Epting is a classic styled artist who possess fantastic storytelling skills. His run on Avengers was extremely high quality, that many missed the first time around due to the glut of Spider or X-books that Marvel was pumping out around the same time. With high expectations comes the eventual reassessment and whilst Epting’s art may not have blown me away on this title, it was still a lot better than a raft of DC books. So bearing in mind that this is a monthly book, I am not sure what has happened. In his absence Blanco has done ok, building a solid style which could be improved with more skill on the faces in the first couple of pages which tend to look a little bland. Being trapped on a couple of nightmare worlds should give colourist John Rauch free rein to throw colors at the walls to see what sticks. Thankfully, he work is a little more restrained than at, with a clever scheme that is evocative of two nightmare worlds without negatively impacting the storytelling.
This issue is an improvement over the last couple of issues, but it is still some way from where I, and a lot of fans, would like it to be. Hopefully, after this arc we can get to talking about Batwoman’s future rather than focussing on one element of her past.
Writing – 3 Stars
Art – 3 Stars
Colors 3.5 Stars
Written By; Marguerite Bennett
Art by; Fernando Blanco
Colors by; John Rauch
Published by; DC Comics