COVERGIRL: Batwoman #8 is artist Amy Reeder’s last issue. This cover’s a gorgeous farewell.
Using her DEO high-tech, Batwoman prepares to destroy the freak-beasts that threatened at last issue’s end. She pauses when Medusa ringleader Falchion threatens one of the children Medusa’s holding captive (to what vile end, we don’t yet know).
Batwoman also pauses when Agent Chase asks her to mine her girlfriend Detective Maggie Sawyer for info. After a tiny, somewhat unconvincing hissy fit, Kate calls Maggie and arranges a date. Despite her mild protestations, Batwoman is just as determined to bring down Medusa as Chase is. While she seems genuinely fond of Maggie, in that detached way bats have of being affectionate, she likely wouldn’t be above prodding Maggie for scoop even without Chase’s directive.
She certainly isn’t above prodding Maggie with a tranquilizer, which she does while breaking Sune out of police custody. Sune, a Medusa operative, quickly turncoats (is that a verb?), going so far as to sling arrows at her former Medusa teammates, motivated, one assumes, by a desire to save the children.
Via flashback Maro, Medusa penultimate honcho, nabs a child molester/murderer and melds his twisted soul with that of the evil Ashoth, a maleficent hook-dwelling spirit. Commingled, the molester and the hook become the blood-thirsty thug who hacked up Flamebird/Bette. Speaking of, Cousin Bette still rests in a coma, Uncle Jake Kane sitting vigil.
Ramble: I feel the same way after reading Batwoman as I do after shopping at Market Basket: satisfied (by a full narrative/a full pantry) and battered (in both cases, by a whole cast of characters flying at me in rapid succession).
Batwoman’s story is complex enough to necessitate an extensive review of past issues before proceeding. This bothered me at first, but while the issues still seem overly busy to me, I’ve grown more accepting because I like Batwoman (the character and the book).
However, the busyness relates to an item on my exceedingly long to-research list: How do comic book companies and their creators balance the desire for rich storylines and the need to draw in new readers? Is the primary reader-grab occurring at issue 1? From then on, is the #1 goal to keep existing readers? Are mid-run readers considered a bonus? Or are comic book companies actively seeking to draw in new readers well into a series’ run?
Most folks could jump into Supergirl right now, at issue #8 (hits stands tomorrow!) and understand it, but I find her story and character simplistic to a fault. Batwoman sits far away from Supergirl on the complexity scale, but possibly also to a fault. I struggle every issue to reposition myself back in her narrative ganglion and would guess a new reader might be put off by the complexities.
Unrelated, Maggie Sawyer and Agent Chase both grew softer and more traditionally feminine of face under Reeder’s pen, which I didn’t like. They were who they were, and while Agent Chase was, IMHO, hotter than Sawyer in an andro-dyke kinda way, neither was traditionally feminine of face. Why the facelifts?
WHO THE HELL ARE THESE PEOPLE?
Kate Kane: Survived a brutal kidnapping by terrorists that killed her mother and turned her sister into a crazy villain. West Point student, expelled under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Dating Detective Sawyer.
Batwoman: Kate’s awesome superhero alter-ego. Currently working with Agent Chase and the DEO, who will arrest her dad if she doesn’t help them.
DEO: Department of Extranormal Operations
Jake Kane: Kate’s dad and military big-wig. Kate won’t talk to him, though he’ll talk to her.
Bette Kane/Flamebird: Kate’s cousin/Batwoman’s mentee, member of Teen Titans/tennis star. Currently unconscious.
Agent Cameron Chase: DEO agent. Currently working with Batwoman.
Detective Sawyer: Police detective. Kate’s love interest.
Falchion: Medusa kingpin. Dresses like a Roman centurion.
Maro: Medusa second-in-command
Medusa: Mysterious, evil organization.
Sune: Mid-level Medusa management; sister of Maro
WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?
A slew of Gotham children are missing; presumably napped by a vile organization called Medusa. Batwoman/Kate Kane was prepared to seek Medusa and the missing children alone, but is now working with Agent Chase of the DEO after Chase threatened her father Jake. Police Detective Sawyer is also on the case, and is dating Kate. Kate’s cousin Bette, aka Teen Titan Flamebird, has been knocked unconscious by a bad guy with a hook, who turns out to be one of Falchion’s minions.