Batwoman #1 had so much build-up it seemed as though it couldn't possibly live up to the hype. A Batwoman ongoing was announced shortly after the conclusion of the character's Detective Comics run, but the title suffered repeated delays until it disappeared from DC's schedules entirely. For more than a year, fans only had guest appearances, a short one-off comic, and some tantalizing preview pages to tide them over while they waited for this title to arrive. By the time Batwoman was confirmed to be a part of DC's new 52, it had become the stuff of legends to many readers, and expectations for the title were sky high.
Having read the first issue at last, I'm pleased to say the comic meets all my expectations and more. Kate is as funny, smart, and badass as ever, and the story is full of intrigue and surprises. Along with her wonderfully crafted stories, the artwork has always been a huge selling point for Batwoman, and this issue is no exception. JH Williams III is easily one of the best artists working in comics today, and every page is an absolute joy to behold. While writer Greg Rucka's departure from DC left many concerned, Williams proves that he has real writing talent, and that he and his co-writer W. Haden Blackman are more than capable of continuing the great stories that Rucka started.
In fact, reading this issue, it's almost like Rucka never left. The stories he'd been building are picked up right where they left off, and established characters feel exactly like their old selves. This is such a smooth continuation of Batwoman's old tales that the issue may be a little challenging to new readers. Near the end of the title, the major ongoing plotlines are explained in a surprisingly natural bit of dialogue, but I'd still suggest that those new to the character pick up the Batwoman: Elegy trade before jumping into the new series.
Batwoman's past stories aren't the only things Williams and Blackman are building on. DC's shortlived but excellent Chase series, which Williams illustrated, appears to be playing a major role in the title. Having the Department of Extranormal Operations go up against Kate should be a great way to give readers a little more of her history, as well as a good look at her fighting techniques. I can't wait to see more of characters like Cameron Chase and Director Bones, and I think they'll be a great fit for this series.
Williams' panel layouts are wonderfully inventive and add so much atmosphere to the scenes in which they're employed. However, reading them in the Comixology app can be a little challenging, and the guided view feature doesn't seem to be designed with pages like this in mind. Because of this, I'd suggest getting your hands on a physical copy of the issue if you can. As an added bonus, this lets you appreciate more of the small details that go into the art, which can be hard to notice when reading on a computer screen.
Although this issue isn't as new reader friendly as many other reboot titles, I'd recommend all sorts of readers give Batwoman a chance. The title feels really unique when compared to other superhero stuff out there, and I think it has the chance to appeal to a really broad audience. If you're angry and upset about the relaunch, I'd also recommend giving this book a try. It's completely untouched, right down to Bette's history with the Titans, and is a great continuation of stories you may have worried were left behind.
The only complaint I have about Batwoman is that it felt way too short, and I'd chalk that up to the wait for this issue more than anything else. This comic was a treat on every level, and I'm thrilled knowing that I'll once again be able to enjoy a Batwoman story every month. I think she's one of the best new comic book characters in years, and one of the strongest female characters in comics.