Successfully writing a Bat-book can be very challenging. On the one hand certain criteria must be met; the story must include a dose of detective work, an enigmatic and mysterious villain, a twist or two, and a compelling caped crusader. On the other there is the pressing need to create something new, fresh and different. Greg Rucka brings his A-game to the Batwoman character who is instantly engaging and interesting. She is smart and adroit while also being a deeply damaged character, as all characters walking in Bruce Wayne’s footsteps should be. With the creation of Alice, the new leader of the church of crime who converses only with quotes from Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland, Rucka creates a villain perfectly at home in the Bat-family’s rogues gallery.
While Rucka does a sterling job in the writers chair it is artist J.H. Williams III who elevates this book from a satisfactory tale of Gotham to a classic everyone should have on their shelf. When Batwoman is on the page prowling the streets of Gotham William’s unleashes a barrage of beautifully rendered pages which include one superlatively laid out page after another. The layouts themselves are so inventive and complex any reader can spend a long time just examining each and every page. His ability to create a sense of movement across the page and his use of darker tones makes the parts of the book where Kate Kane is in costume so beautiful you’ll have to resist the urge to tear the pages out and stick them on your walls. In contrast when the lead is out of costume William’s changes to a more traditional comicbook style and layout. The contrast between the two styles adds deep emotional depth to the story.
As a team Rucka and Williams establish the relatively new Batwoman as a Gotham stalwart and have created a book that is easy to pick up and read for any fan of the medium. Most importantly though, it’s impossible not to enjoy it.