March 17, 2012

DC Reviews: Batwoman #6

Batwoman #6
Publisher: DC Comics
Writers: J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman
Artist: Amy Reeder
Inkers: Rob Hunter and Richard Friend
Colors: Guy Major
Letters: Todd Klein
Asst. Editor: Rickey Puroin
Assoc. Editor
: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Marts

Today it seems like an inevitability that if a comic series is going really well, it’s time to change artists after five or six issues and just–see how is goes? For a title to stay at peak quality, things need to stay constant for at least a bit longer than a very short run. Since Elegy, one could only hope that this truly genius creative team wouldn’t remain unaltered. Now that it has, it’s certainly true that more than a few fans of Kate Kane’s new incarnation are a little concerned.

The first telltale sign of coming disappointment is the cover art. Is Kate taking off her mask? Is she putting it on? It’s very unclear and it really has nothing to do with the plot; this was not the case with the previous covers by J.H. Williams III. Also, what is she doing with her mouth? It looks like an intoxicated Robert Smith drew her lips on sideways.

As far as the internal art is concerned, one must take a few things into consideration before they judge Amy Reeder. In all fairness, J. H. W. III’s work  is a very intimidating legacy to continue. His unique handling of panel structure, combined with Dave Stewart’s legendary coloring, is an uncontrollable beast. Amy also has the fact the J.H. was both the writer and the penciler against her. It’s a tough situation, and fans have come to expect perfection.

Even keeping those things in mind, the pencils and the colors leave much to be desired. The established atmosphere has completely dissipated, and the characters feel flat and uninspired. In one panel, Kate looks more like she’s falling over than actually fighting, and then proceeds to get hit by an endless amount of bullets and not even flinch. Apparently she’s got a new suit. It’s fairly ridiculous.

Speaking of fairly ridiculous, the writing has also gone a little down hill. Whether it has to do with difficulties coordinating with new artists, or just the natural and seemingly inevitable decline of mainstream ongoing comics, someone threw a wrench in the clockwork. Kate Kane was never about being bulletproof. She takes a beating, and she keeps going with relentless heroism. Giving her an upgraded costume just seems like filler compared to the golden material that previously made Batwoman great. And going back to explain the exact origin of the Weeping Woman? Really? Could that really be what readers want after just witnessing Kate’s final confrontation with this particular villain? Perhaps. But also perhaps not.

It’s seriously unlikely that this lapse in quality is any one person’s fault, and the purpose of this review is not an attempt to single anyone out or pick on Amy Reeder for failing to do the exact same job as another artist (which is impossible). Heck, it may even be partly because of the change of assistant and associate editors. Whatever the reason, it’s rather disappointing. One can only hope that this can be partly attributed to it only being the first issue of the story arc. Only time will tell.

Alexander Lorenzen



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