Graphic Novel Review: Batwoman - Elegy

(Titan Books �18.99)

EVERY once in a while comes a comic book which redefines the industry, offering a perfect fusion of script and art and illustrating exactly what can be achieved in this medium which can’t be replicated elsewhere. Batwoman is one of those books.

Writer Greg Rucka and artist JH Williams III have taken a third-string Bat-character from the 1950s and revitalised her as a fresh, dynamic reflection of modern day America.

Spinning out of her modern day debut in the weekly series 52, Elegy is a powerful, innovative take on costumed superheroics, focusing as it does on DC Comics’ most high-profile gay character, Kate (Batwoman) Kane, who is still finding her feet in the world of caped crimefighters primarily dominated by men.

Flashbacks reveal how the military brat Kane is transformed into the masked Batwoman, while contemporary sequences introduce her nemesis Alice, a reflection of the dark side of her nature drawn from the pages of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland.

The creators never shy away from Kane’s sexuality, but they approach the subject without any of the titillation or issue-making you might expect in other books, and it is very much seen as just another aspect of her rich and complex personality.

Williams’ artwork is breathtaking, and infuses this book with a sense of realism that helps obscure some of Rucka’s more outlandish concepts, including ancient prophecies linked to a mysterious cult of crime, but as a whole Elegy marks a spectacular debut for one of DC’s most exciting new characters, and a first-rate example of superheroics done absolutely right.

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