Story by W. Haden Blackman & J. H. Williams III
Art by J. H. Williams III
Review by Mara Whiteside
Have you ever fought back tears while reading a comic book? I just did.
If that’s not enough of a reason to check out Batwoman, let me convince you. Batwoman #0 is an origin story without coming across as one. In a month where every hero’s background has to be explained, it’s refreshing to read an issue that reveals the history of a character without beating the subject to death.
I appreciate that the zero issue refers to Kate’s personal history. It’s as if the New 52 mega-reboot didn’t phase her. What we learned in Elegy still applies and shapes Kate into the strong woman she is today. The kidnapping she survived, the death of her mother, and recent revisit of her long-lost twin sister, Alice …all impact who Kate is and why she dons the cowl.
The issue takes place during a recording Kate makes for her dad. Before she goes out on patrol, Kate makes a recording for her father, Jake. She tells him she loves him, regrets nothing, and is proud to serve her city. We are given a sample of one of the recordings she makes for Jake. It’s filled with memories, undying devotion, a stable father, a rebellious young woman, and a hard life that was necessary to become the Kate Kane she is today. To summarize Kate’s message to her father in a review would just cheapen its impact, trivialize her supposed last contact with the man she looks up to. I can’t stress enough the importance of this issue to understanding the character herself. It fits right in with Elegy and the previous 12 issues. Blackman and Williams know Kate inside and out, and reading a story written by these two restores my faith in storytelling.
The issue lacks Williams’s classic two-page Batwoman style, but the art is not the focus here. The story takes place pre-Batwoman, and the art reflects Kate’s civilian lifestyle, not her superhero alter ego. The dialogue is heavy and complete. Honestly, I could read this narrative without the art and still get emotional. Artistically, what stands out the most about this issue is the cover. Take another look at it. What does it make you think of? How about the other covers featuring women? Did you notice the differences? If the cover doesn’t speak to who Batwoman is deep down inside, then no amount of back story ever will.
By all means, pick up this issue. Even if you never pick up another Batwoman issue, even if you never think of Kate Kane again, you need to read this issue.