The entire concept of this arc could be filed under “the good.” Sending Batwoman to take down Batman (so the government and the D.E.O. leave the Kanes alone for good, particularly Papa Kane) is such an incredible idea, and an amazing use of a character with one of the strongest entrances to the DCU that was IMMEDIATELY squandered in the pages of 52 (only to find a new life with Greg Rucka’s solo run and an absolute rebirth with this series). J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman are absolutely on-point every step of the way, balancing Batwoman’s hard-hitting action with her complex relationship and her complicated family life. There's even the Robin surrogate, but attached a flamethrower to her. Which is a definite step up in my mind. The books pacing is also incredible, this is a book with three very different settings and very different goings-on, but it always keeps its timeline clear and every setting unique and well-defined. When Bette is training and commiserating it feels like the natural extension of Kathy interrogating some of Arkham’s strangest, if not top-list, inmates. The introduction where both women take down Bane is also glorious to behold with quick cuts to flashbacks where it’s revealed the even the D.E.O. holds the massive luchador in high regard.
Trevor McCarthy handles art, taking over from Francesco Francavilla, and also series regular Williams himself, and he handles it beautifully. His style is, in terms of character design and execution, very similar to Williams’, but it lacks the surreal panel layout, which in this story is actually a plus. There’s nothing supernatural or fantastical going on in this issue, so a more staid, subdued style is definitely called for and McCarthy delivers an amazing level of detail when it counts. Guy Major is on colors and he absolutely hits it out of the park as well, as the colors in this issue are positively flying off the page, dark and moody when it needs to be, but bright and even a little fanciful at other times.
This book confirms that Knightfall did, indeed, happen and apparently happened very similarly to how it was originally portrayed (plus or minus the original Azrael). This isn’t a fault of the issue, but it does make the whole Batman timeline even more muddled and confused.
This book is absolutely amazing and this is issue is one of the best yet. I adore how Bane is written, I love Batwoman’s idea of interviewing and interrogating Batman’s rogues about his mentality, his methods and any possible weaknesses he possesses. It’s a series of amazing scenes that do a great job setting the tone of the book along with the scenes of Bette training with the elite squad The Murder of Crows. If there’s one thing this book knows how to do, it’s establish tone, but if there are two things, they are: establish tone and provide a consistent level of excellence. Batwoman is the best Bat-book you’re not reading and you owe it to yourself to start as this is actually a pretty good jumping-on issue (but scoop up the last two if you can, they’re both great).