Wow. I firmly believe that this was the single best issue of any comic I’ve ever read. Batwoman, under the guidance of J.H. Williams III and originally Greg Rucka, now W. Haden Blackman has been a game changer from the start with its truly inventive art and layout designs but the series hasn’t been without its flaws. Some issues downright dragged. But when this creative team nails it, they nail it! This one issue is so inventive, innovative, intelligent, poetic and just plain incredible, it elevates the very art form that is comic books to a new level.
We carry on with Batwoman’s team-up with Wonder Woman, as they seek out Medusa… THE Medusa, who is supposed to be imprisoned in a Themysciran prison labyrinth. The book is dually narrated by both women and opens with them assessing one another, which is truly insightful and– I used the word earlier– poetic. Just the level of detail and elegant phrasing– Wonder Woman noticing that their underwater craft, which Batwoman is piloting, pitches everytime Diana speaks– lovely.
There are some continuity problems regarding Wonder Woman’s book. I was going to chalk it up to this story possibly taking place before Diana’s current series, but there is a reference to her being Zeus’ daughter which was just revealed. But in the labyrinth, we see Amazons (well, former Amazons) whereas in WW’s book, they were all turned into snakes, leaving Diana as the last one remaining. (Way back in Wonder Woman #4.) But I’m certainly not going to let being nitpicky spoil what was otherwise a brilliant comic.
Naively, Batwoman calls the labyrinth “an Amazonian Arkham Asylum,” but she’s in for a rude awakening, as Arkham has never seen the likes of the horrors and monstrocities entombed here. The two-page spread of the pair voyaging through the maze is a veritable “Where’s Waldo” packed with visual treats– really gross, bloody, dead treats. The two-page layouts are universally brilliant in this issue and evey time I turned the page, it seemed I was amazed by a different innovation, but that came to a head in spread of Wonder Woman, virtually buried alive by a horrific Greek monster, whose appearance actually made my flesh crawl! I mean how do you illustrate complete darkness and make it interesting? This is how. Brilliant!
Initially, Batwoman appears over her head and out of her league. She turns to Wonder Woman almost out of desperation and that carries through as they traverse the maze, but refreshingly, Kate proves invaluable to Diana! There’s even a funny “horror movie” fake-out ending that lightened things up.
Back home, Jacob is struggling to help Bette recover and train up to Kate’s level. In another innovative layout, we see a visual representation of Bette’s former super hero codename, Flamebird. Flame… bird… Phoenix… Ohhhhhh! I felt a bit dumb for not getting that until now.
Diana narrates the last bit of this story and, it is quintessentially Diana. It’s more Wonder Woman than the regular Wonder Woman book and a million times more Wonder Woman than she appears in ‘Justice League.’ A lot of writers don’t get her, but Williams and Blackman prove that they do in spades!
This issue needs to win awards. It’s not just satisfying, it’s mind-blowing! You may have read ‘Batwoman’ before and been impressed with its style and quality, but you’ve never read a comic book like this!
Written by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman
Art and Cover by Williams