Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Batwoman 24, originally released October 16th, 2013.
Drew: When evaluating a work of art, I tend to ignore the artist — I’m far too focused on what the art means to me to care about what it means to anyone else, even if that anyone happens to be the one who made it. I think it helps me stay focused on the work in question — it’s all to easy to excuse bad art from an artist you like, or dismiss good art from an artist you hate — and focus on the meaning of a work of art. Occasionally, though, the artist (or the context into which the art was released) dominate the work’s meaning. Van Gogh paintings are presented as springboards for discussions of madness, and Beethoven symphonies simply cannot be performed without someone mentioning deafness. The real-world drama surrounding the release of Batwoman 24 are not nearly so biological, but in many ways, that only makes the issue a more frustrating read.
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Batwoman 23, originally released August 21st, 2013.
Drew: At the end of Batwoman 22, Kate asks Bones for thirty hours to prepare for her planned takedown of Batman. We all suspected that that request might not be entirely on-the-level, assuming that Kate would use that time to set-up her own counter-plan. Issue 23 reveals that we were only half-right — Kate does use that time more for her own personal ends than for preparing for her mission, but how she uses it is entirely unexpected. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Batwoman 22, originally released July 17th, 2013.
Patrick: We spent last month with The Killer Croc — an oddly blunt instrument for symphony as subtle and sophisticated as Batwoman. A few pages in to this issue, and we become aware that our heroes are searching for Bane to ask him for advice on how to capture Batman. I know Bane’s actually done this before, but it is interesting to see the brutish villains popping up in a more cerebral title. And the party doesn’t end there — the ranks of the good guys and the bad are fleshed out with soldiers and psychopaths. How exactly these opposing forced are going to accomplish their goals is another topic of conversation altogether. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Batwoman 20, originally released May 15th, 2013.
Shelby: Trust is always an interesting concept to explore when masked superheroes are involved. The protagonist’s entire experience is based on a lack of trust: they don’t trust their loved ones to with their secret identity, they don’t trust the existing authority to take care of crime. That the distrust is well-founded doesn’t lessen the fact it’s the foundation of a successful masked superhero. But even the most independent superhero has got to have someone in the corner, some support system of people they trust and can rely on. Unfortunately, Kate seems to continuously find herself faced with people telling her, “you will trust me, whether you like it or not!”, essentially rendering the entire concept meaningless.
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Batwoman 19, originally released April 17th, 2013.
Patrick: Early in this issue, DEO Agent Cameron Chase says to her sister: “I think I’m about to do something horrible.” This isn’t an admission of guilt, she isn’t asking for absolution, and she certainly doesn’t want to be talked out of doing this horrible something. But Chase isn’t the only person in this series that’s about to do something horrible. The whole cast of Batwoman imposes personal sacrifices on each other to the benefit of… well, of what exactly? Love? Honor? Duty? The very thing they’re sacrificing?
Today, Patrick and Jack are discussing Batwoman 13, originally released October 17th 2012.
Patrick: One summer time during college, I was looking for a job and I stopped by the mall in Appleton, Wisconsin. There was a sign at the info desk in the food court that said “Help Wanted” and then listed all the stores that were hiring. I didn’t know why, but I was really uncomfortable asking for this information – to the point where I almost wasn’t going to do it. But then I swallowed hard and just to myself “okay, I’ll just be funny.” Humor is the one tool I have at my disposal that I can use to address any situation I get myself into. God help me if I ever find myself pitted against the spawn of Chaos – I’d be fucked. Batwoman’s tools, on the other hand, we can have some confidence in those.
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Batwoman 12, originally released August 15th 2012.
Shelby: Oh, the life of a superhero, balancing personal relationships by day and caped ass-whupin’ by night. I have a hard enough time balancing office drone by day, nerd by night, so I don’t know how Kate Kane manages. She is beginning to fall into the classic (and seemingly inevitable) trap all heroes face: your loved ones assume you are sneaky and selfish, going out every night and keeping secrets, when in fact you are working harder than anyone to keep your loved ones safe. Kate starts on this downward slope as J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman begin a new arc, again with stories nestled within each other. At least this time it looks like everything is happening in the same chronological order. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Batwoman 11, originally released July 18th, 2012.
Drew: In their write-up for issue 10, the siblings Ehlers described the “To Drown the World” arc as one about the power of belief. That summary somehow seemed too simple, given the chronological gymnastics that dominated our discussions. The emphasis on the chronology has eased off as the arc draws to its close, taking it out of the realm of gimmick and back to the much more common device of alternating between A and B story lines. What we’re left with are the themes the Ehlers so readily pointed out — how the lies we tell ourselves and others shape the way we perceive the world. I don’t know if it’s intentional or ironic that my faith in the creative team lead me to believe in vain there was more to the narrative gimmickry, but it establishes a fascinating meta-theme for the arc. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Batwoman 9, originally released May 16th 2012.
Drew: Last month, I was pretty hard on Batwoman. The gambit of dividing the story into six discrete narratives necessarily forces the plot to only be advanced incrementally in each. That, I’m fine with, but when every story hit the emotional doldrums simultaneously, the result is an issue that strains to justify its existence. This month, writers J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman find the emotional through-line issue 8 was lacking, crafting a meaningful rumination on the nature of loyalty. Continue reading →