BATWOMAN ANNUAL #1 REVIEW
Writer: Marc Andreyko
Artist: Trevor McCarthy and Moritat
Review by Suzanne Nagda
Annuals can be a strange beast. They range from done-in-one subplots to integral chapters in ongoing story arcs. Writers can devote more pages to the little things–like exploring new themes or developing supporting characters. Batwoman gets the opportunity to address a few dangling plot threads and (hopefully) create a new status quo for the series. It’s been nearly six months without any resolution from Batwoman #24… but who’s counting?
Let’s back up here and recap the cliffhanger from Batwoman #24. Director Bones from the D.E.O. orders Batwoman to unmask Batman under threat of imprisonment for Jacob Kane and holding her sister hostage. Batman and Batwoman finally come to blows, building on tension from the beginning between Batman Incorporated and the D.E.O. Meanwhile, Hawkfire tries to extract Alice with the help of Jacob Kane and the Crows. And Director Bones could be Kate Kane’s brother. Talk about having skeletons in the closet. (Bad joke, I admit.)
So what is the outcome of a fight between two heroes? What will Alice do when she breaks out of her prison? Does Jacob Kane really have a son more evil than his psychopath daughter Alice? There’s not much I can say here without giving away major spoilers. Was this a satisfying ending to a long-anticipated annual? The simple answer is no. The interactions between Batman and Batwoman feel surprisingly one-dimensional. Batman’s dialogue borders on patronizing at points. Batwoman seems less confident and experienced here (and in Marc Andreyko’s run in general). Andreyko doesn’t seem to have a firm handle on Cameron Chase’s motivations or characterization. Director Bones is less menacing and more batshit crazy.
Trevor McCarthy makes a welcome return to Gotham City with his trademark heavy inks. The final splash page of the issue is absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunately, the transition between artists McCarthy and Moritat is slightly jarring. Moritat’s pencils are solid minus a few strange faces and body proportions.
The Verdict: Skip this one. The challenge of ending an extremely involved story arc from a different creative team is a near-Herculean task. Marc Andreyko makes a valiant effort here but it doesn’t feel authentic to the themes J.H. Williams III and Haden Blackman developed over the course of two years. In general, I would argue that Andreyko would be more successful with a soft reboot of the series.
Side Tangent: I cracked open Andreyko’s Manhunter last night and absolutely devoured it. Kate Spencer feels like a fully-realized character–from her cynical nature to her compulsive smoking. Andreyko can really excel at character development without the baggage of another writer’s angle.