‘Batwoman’ #38: a step forward, a step back

CoverBatwoman #38
Written by Marc Andreyko
Art by Juan Jose Ryp
Published by DC Comics

Batwoman marches on towards its rather unfortunate cancelation. In doing so, Marc Andreyko has been presenting one of the most refreshing Kate Kane stories to date: a bizarre yet entertaining team up with heroes, anti-heroes, and villains across both Gotham’s underground and DC’s mystic roster.

The issue opens up as all good team ups do, with the yet to form Unknowns (Batwoman, Etrigan the Demon, and Ragman) all bursting in on an arcane ritual to resurrect Morgaine le Fey with the help of an unwitting Clayface. It’s a fairly decent battle, showcasing everyone’s abilities until it’s ended by Etrigan choosing to blow up the entire block to stop le Fey. Unfortunately, it’s after there that the issue starts losing its appeal. Everyone goes their way with the day seemingly saved instead of proper team bonding. A good superhero group should feature two major things: 1) the heroes stopping a force too powerful for any of them alone and 2) a chance to see how these characters interact and relate with each other. Much of the remaining issue is of the characters going their own ways until they’ll inevitably come back to take down Morgaine le Fey for real. Batwoman has some notable scenes with her ex-fiancé, Maggie Sawyer, which is at least novel. Let one thing be said, Andreyko does not take the coward’s way out and shows just how painful and conflicted the cancelled Batwoman marriage was and uses it to wring some development out of both characters.

Georges Jeanty steps out this issue as Juan Jose Ryp takes over pencils and inks. It’s a saddening sign when DC Comics can’t even properly end one of their most culturally relevant titles by sticking to a consistent artist. That’s not to say anything negative of Ryp, of course. His style is very similar to Jeanty’s. However, his clothes textures are far more solid along with his ink work. He gives each of the Unknowns a unique presence to let them stand out, Clayface, in particular. His detail on faces, especially Etrigan’s, is something that has so far been missing in this storyline. However, there are a few cases of Batwoman and le Fey posing awkwardly in what seems to be fan service.

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All in all, this issue feels like a small step backwards plot wise. The Unknowns not fully forming this far into the story along with panel time for Maggie Sawyer and Batwoman’s vampiric girlfriend, Nocturna, feel like elements meant to play out in future storylines. Perhaps Andrekyo received news of cancellation abruptly. The artwork is an improvement over Jeanty’s billowy style. While this is easily the most ambitious and interesting Batwoman has arguably been since the New 52 ever began, it’s not an epic page turner or high note in anyone’s resume. Hopefully, the last two issues and final annual will make up for this issue’s lacking pace.

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