‘Batwoman’ #39: hanging up the cowl with grace

CoverBatwoman #39
Written by Marc Andrekyo
Art by Geroges Jeanty
Published by DC Comics

So, Batwoman makes its way into its cancelation. It’s quite the tragedy as the current arc is actually far more compelling and novel than the series has been in a long time. Of course, that’s not going to stop this issue from being another of the book’s many controversies. What has already drawn the malice of the book’s struggling fandom is the return and redemption of Red Alice, Kate Kane’s psychopathic twin sister. Alice is one of Batwoman’s oldest foes, dating all the way back to her first solo outing in Batwoman: Elegy. She’s a major component of Kate’s mythos, and Andrekyo’s decision to turn her into a hero is seen as a betrayal.

Personally, this seems a bit excessive. Villain redemption is one of superhero comics’ oldest tropes and serves as the backstory for plenty of DC and Marvel’s classic hero line up: Hawkeye, Cassandra Cain, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and Plastic Man to name a few. Is it unfortunate that much of Kate and Alice’s development is being thrown out the window? Sure, but the series is ending in a few months, and at least it seems to have a light tone, which marks it miles ahead of DC’s other big female-solo title that comes out this week. (Not named Supergirl.) Alice isn’t alone in her turn to the good side. Clayface is now suffering from some sort of amnesia and seeing him be horrified by his criminal past is actually quite endearing. This issue marks the point where Batwoman and the Unknowns finally click. The inter-character chemistry leaves much to be desired but there are fun moments to be had. Red Alice especially adds some amusing quips.

Georges Jeanty is honestly not the choicest of artist for this title. Anything in the mid to background tends to get blurry and stretchy. It’s a shame as he shows some promise when drawing faces up-close. There is still the problem with textures. Jeanty has a tendency to draw billowing fabrics more like water. All the same, he makes the Unknowns stand apart from each other. Jeanty isn’t an artist that could hold a torch to the legendary J. H. Williams III, but it’s clear DC has given up on this title and far worse artists have taken over dying New 52 books.

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Batwoman #39 is a great improvement over last issue and compared to this month’s issue of Wonder Woman, it’s practically gold. Andrekyo hits his mark a bit stronger this issue. Fans may criticize the choice to redeem Red Alice but it’s better than a down and dire ending between Kate and her sister, and since there’s nothing planned for the Unknowns post-Convergence. This does nothing to make up for the disturbing relationship Kate shares with Nocturna where consent is nebulous at best but there’s very little of that in this issue.

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