Nicholas Goodchild

Historic and Pared Down

Batwoman: Elegy

18 February 2012 by Nicholas in Comics

Batwoman: Elegy, is a trade paperback of a story that originally ran in Detective Comics and was written by Greg Rucka, drawn by J H Williams III and coloured by David Baron. Both David Baron and J H Williams have Warren Ellis links: Williams drew the first (and only completed) arc of Desolation Jones and Baron sometimes coloured Planetary. They combine beautifully on Batwoman and Williams is one of the best artists in comics.

Williams excels on Batwoman. He creates distinctive characters who you can tell apart, everyone looks real and his art has solidity and tells the story. But, more than that, it looks gorgeous and has some incredible panel layouts. And even more than that: he completely changes his art style for some flashback scenes that I would have sworn blind were by a different artist. Even as I read them, I was sure they were by a different artist and it was only upon discovering that they weren’t that I could see any of Williams’ style on them. And that was when I was closely looking for it.

Baron, too, deserves credit. He doesn’t harm the art, I know that sounds like damning someone with faint praise, but I am coming to realise how rare that actually is. He sets mood and helps sell Williams’ art. Pages are designed, drawn and coloured to fit together and work as a whole even as they work as individual panels.  The pallete used and hues evoked set mood and suggest era. It’s a really good job and deserving of praise.

The story, too, is good. We get a lot of information and are sold on the idea of a secret group of zealots running around Gotham with their own internal politics and breakaway factions. The action is mainly interesting (the supposedly climatic fight is oddly unexciting, but sets up an emotional climax later on) and conflicts and actions stem from characters’ personalities. We get a sense of who Batwoman is and her relations to everyone else, how they view her and what drives them.

Rucka writes great women. Kane is principled, tough and stubborn. She is honest about her sexuality, even when it causes offence and makes her life difficult. She has to choose to be true to herself over her dreams and does so, in a way that is believable and admirable at the same time. The supporting cast, too, are well written and characterised, even if Batwoman’s stepmother comes across as nothing other than indulgent.

Batwoman: Elegy is a great comic that is well crafted and written and elevated by some incredible work by the artist and ably assisted by the colourist.