Monday, June 29, 2009

Detective Comics # 854

Detective Comics # 854
Writer:Greg Rucka
Art: J.H. Williams III, Cully Hamner (second feature)
Colors: Dave Stewart, Laura Martin (second feature)
Letters: Todd Klein, Jared K. Fletcher (second feature)
Asst. Ed: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Published by DC

To say this is the best Bat-book I've read in some time, is one hell of an understatement. It starts off pretty typical of a Bat-related title. Though, this time around it's not BatMAN interrogating thugs, but Batwoman, Kate Kane. Right off the bat (pardon the pun) we notice Williams' incredibly stellar art and interesting panel construction. The flow of the story reminds me of something Steranko might have pulled off in his heyday. Batwoman is trying to figure out the new leader for some covens and their religion of crime and during her investigation she runs into the new Batman. They talk shop and she actually corrects him on the number of covens in the city. It made me think she got that information because she was a woman and he couldn't have done that otherwise. Sort of empowering if you think about it.

Next morning, Kate stops for breakfast with a woman (I'm sure by now, you've heard that Kate is a lesbian) who is rather upset with her for being late, among other things. The woman leaves frustrated with Kate and accusing her of tomcatting around and whatnot. The woman also says she should have never gotten involved with some one "so privileged". I think Rucka did a great job of paralleling that with the life of Bruce Wayne. Later, we see Kate at her home. We see her, not just as a civilian, we see her as the real Kate Kane. The Kate who was nearly killed by the Crime Bible. Kate Kane who is trying to balance things between being Batwoman and alternative socialite. The dialogue is just fantastic and incredibly strong. By the end of the issue, it's really difficult for the reader to NOT like Kane. She's living with some sort of father figure, I'm not sure who he is, who acts as her sort of Oracle as well. He even mentions a "Bette". Hrm. Interesting since this could be something to do with my personal Batgirl theories.

I digress.

So, she finally hunts down the covens and in some pretty cool stylized pages too, I might add. One would think this book is called "Ass-Kicking Comics" as opposed to "Detective Comics" because of amount of vigilante justice being thrown around. Eventually, Batwoman is face-to-face with a woman called Alice, the new leader of the cult, and she is down-right creepy looking. Sort of like a Victorian noble and a porcelain doll and in addition has a peculiar vernacular. The story ends with Batwoman pulling out a gun and fires it! Now, I don't think it actually fires bullets, maybe some sort of pellets. Interesting to see somebody with a Bat-mantle using a gun. Love the cliffhanger angle.

Also featured in this book is a second story (entitled "Pipeline") starring the Question, Rene Montoya and I must say it's a nice compliment to Batwoman’s story. It seems we’re going to get less capes and cowls and more street-level style attitude. Cully Hamner (Black Lightning, Blue Beetle) and Laura Martin (Thor, Astonishing X-Men) may not be Williams and Stewart, but they’re deserving of a fair amount of praise for the same reason: the art is captivating yet gritty. This feature shows more of the "detective" side of the book's title. For the first few pages, it's dialogue heavy, but the remaining pages have hardly any words at all, it's mainly Question, as I mentioned earlier, doing some actual detective work and the art tells the story by itself. She's on the look out for a Mexican immigrant's sister who had crossed the border illegally and now has gone missing. Though finding her maybe harder than she had originally intended.

This book is easily worth the $3.99 price tag. My one complaint is that in the Batwoman story, she has an older man as her "Oracle", as is the same deal with the Question. It doesn't take me out of the story, I just would have thought Rucka would have been slightly more careful about not sounding repetitive with dealing with two different characters in the same book. Bottom line though, get it. No question about it. Sorry to end on a pun.

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