Monday, February 1, 2016

Batwoman Elegy by Greg Rucka

A few years ago, I was at NY Comic Con browsing the comic book offerings when I came across the
hardcover deluxe edition of “Batwoman Elegy” by writer Greg Rucka and was seduced by the artwork into buy it without knowing anything about the character. 

Now, I have never been an avid superhero comic reader but have intermittently enjoyed some super hero books over the years.  Batman (Detective Comics), Wonder Woman and X-Men quickly come to mind.  I however found myself easily frustrated, not to mention confused, by the many massive events, retcons, and reinventions that the “Big Two” were fond off with their superhero comics.  As such, I had initially missed the reintroduction of the Batwoman character by Greg Rucka but a chance find at a comic book stall remedied that oversight.

I bought the book and took it home not expecting much other than to enjoy some truly stunning artwork by J.H. Williams III.  What I got was one of the most intriguing, multilayered and refreshingly human, superhero stories that I have ever read.  Batwoman Elegy tells the origin story of Katherine Kane and her journey towards becoming Batwoman.  Through Rucka’s expert storytelling, we follow Kate’s journey through childhood trauma and loss, sexual orientation discrimination, and finding purpose in life.  I was so emotionally invested in the story that I read it quickly in one sitting and immediately read it again on the same day.
Beautifully supporting and enriching Rucka’s writing is the artwork of J.H. Williams III who imbues the book with a rich gothic sensibility and innovative panel layouts that add an alternative edge to the story.  The book is perfectly colored by Dave Stewart with vivid reds, blacks and greys that are a feast for the eyes.

DC Comics later continued the character’s story in her own ongoing self-titled book but Rucka did not return as writer.  J.H. Williams III and W. Hayden Black took over the reins as writers of the book and did an excellent job of continuing the story and being true to the character even though at times, in my opinion, it felt as if some of the magic was gone. 

I suspected that DC Comics was interfering with their creative vision and sure enough, after issue #24, Williams III and Black left the book due to huge creative differences with DC and the publisher’s absolute refusal to allow Kate Kane to marry her fiancĂ© Detective Margaret Sawyer.  After the departure of Williams and Black, the book began a quick downward spiral into mediocrity that was heartbreaking to experience.

Thankfully, we have “Batwoman Elegy” to remind us of it’s once greatness!  I can’t say enough about the book and don’t want to spoil it for those who have not read it, so, just go on and get it already!

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