No, I didn’t forget that last week Batwoman dropped in on Batgirl in the battle against Knightfall. I spent quite some time poring over Batgirl #12, really going over it with a fine-toothed comb. Considering it’s a comic written by one of my favorite writers in the comic book industry, Gail Simone, and co-starring perhaps my favorite character in comics ever, Batwoman, I went into it expecting to have my face rocked off like I was at a concert.
Sadly, my response to this issue is tepid at best. And I don’t think that’s anyone’s fault but my own. I got myself SO excited and worked up for this issue that it wasn’t really capable of ever meeting the expectations I’d set for it. So I can’t blame the comic for my letdown. Everything about this issue was quite good.
Ardian Syaf’s art was superb. Every time Batwoman graced a page, the panels shifted to mirror the unique layouts that her own comic is known for and that was just damned impressive. That level of detail was just spectacular and made the comic worth it just for that. And while I don’t often comment on the colors of a comic, I have to say that Ulises Arreola managed to make Batwoman look gothic pale without making her look skeleton dead. That was a happy surprise to come out of her appearance in Batgirl.
The issue itself was pretty good. As much as I like Batwoman, I can’t help but feel that Batgirl didn’t really need her. The beginning fight was neat, I liked the idea of Batgirl sizing up Batwoman. One of my favorite things about Batgirl as a character (and the way Simone writes her) is that she has a running dialogue in her head at all times. We always know what she’s thinking so to hear her thoughts on Batwoman was pretty fun and her realization that the other hero is just a clever and calculating as she is was spot on, I think. At least in terms of being a bat-hero. I think if they were competing in an academic decathlon, Barbara Gordon might have an edge on Kate Kane.
In any case, I did think that Batgirl and Detective Melody McKenna might have been able to do this without Batwoman. Of course, I won’t know for sure until the next issue (after issue #0 next month) what my favorite hero brings to the table. After that initial fight, we don’t see Batwoman again until the last couple of pages, when she and McKenna bust in to back up Batgirl’s sneak attack. I do think it fits the “soldier” aspect of Batwoman’s background. That’s something I’ve felt is missing from Batwoman as a character, is the fact that she never set out originally to be a crime fighting vigilante. She had joined the military to be part of something bigger. And when she took the Batwoman mantle, I always thought it was so that she could work alongside the other Bats in an almost military fashion, being part of the larger group alongside characters like Lieutenants Batgirl and Nightwing and PFC Robin, operating under General Batman’s orders. I’d have loved for her to be a part of Batman Inc.
But now that she’s part of the DEO, following orders relayed by Cameron Chase, I have to settle for that as Batwoman’s way of still being part of some kind of pseudo-military. It’s good but it’s not quite what I like for the character.
In any case, I’ve done some reading from other fans and have heard the complaint that Batgirl was somehow diminished as a character because of the way Batwoman beat her up in the first couple of pages. I can see that argument. Batwoman really did throw her weight around in that skirmish but once the fight ended and they were chatting with McKenna, we got to see that Batgirl had a concussive trick up her sleeve. I think if the battle had gone on for the entire book, we would have seen Batgirl really hold her own. I couldn’t say who would have actually won a drawn-out slug fest between the pair of them. They’re both entirely different characters, but I think ultimately, as much as I love Batwoman, Batgirl might have have had the upper hand. She’s had more experience, more vigilante training, and more support from the big (Bat)man in charge to go down so easily. Batgirl’s got a lot of resources at her disposal and simply more time in the cowl, despite her absence while she was injured.
All in all, it was a good issue and I’m eager to see how this Knightfall plays out and what Batwoman’s place in it is. McKenna hints that the DEO is somehow involved in Knightfall, so what will that mean for Batwoman’s role in that organization? They’ve got her by the short hairs, really, so she can’t just up and leave them. I doubt that in the next issue of this story that Batwoman’s position in the DEO can change all the much, considering it’s not really Simone’s story to tell but it’s nice to see another writer approaching that dynamic. So far, it’s been an interesting path for Batwoman.
As far as the ongoing Batgirl story is concerned, I like that her brother, James Gordon, is becoming a more prominent villain. So far we’ve seen that he’s skirting the outside of Barbara’s life, getting to know her roommate, Aysia Yeoh, all while keeping his escape from Arkham Asylum a secret. Plus, he’s in league with Knightfall, having presumably befriended her while they were both locked up. As such, he’s gained some amnesty from her violent desire to erase Gotham’s criminal element. I can tell he’s going to be a much larger problem as the story continues and I have to wonder if it has anything to do with their mother’s return into Barbara’s life.
Oh God, I hope he doesn’t kill Barbara’s mother!!!
We’ll see what happens. My verdict on Batwoman’s part in this story is that, right now, she’s an unnecessary addition but that might change. I’d feel a little better about it if she gets a more prominent role in the defeat of Knightfall, to make it feel like she’s needed in order to do it.