Comic Vine Review

15 Comments

Batwoman #23 - This Blood is Thick: Veins Review

5

Before she hunts down the Bat, Katherine Kane must put her house in order. Meanwhile, her sidekick makes a major breakthrough on freeing her sister from the DEO.

The Good

Everything. Okay, see you next month...yeah, I know it’s an old joke, but it’s MY old joke! Seriously, this book, top to bottom, is one of my highlights of the month so far (and for a week that’s brought us some absolutely amazing titles, it’s a true achievement to stand out). J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman cannot be stopped in their plotting and dialog. This is actually a very straightforward issue: Katherine feels incredible remorse for having dosed her lover with fear toxin, so she administers the same dose to herself to share in her pain. Meanwhile Bette Kane and her squad of hardened Crows track down the man who can lead them to Beth Kane, one of the final pieces of leverage the D.E.O. has over Katherine. This is one of the more intimate issues of any superhero book I’ve seen in a long time, we get to see Katherine’s fear-induced hallucinations, but it’s far from the usual of “here’s a giant version of the thing that I’m scared of.” Don’t get me wrong, something like that IS featured, but it’s much more like an extended metaphor on very, very bad hallucinogenics.

Bette’s B-plot is actually the more interesting to me for a very specific reason: there’s an usual device used in it. After the “asset” is acquired, the Crows all take turns trying to beat, shock, and burn Beth Kane’s location out of him, and he’s not giving it up no matter HOW hard they punch, but Bette has a different method. Despite telling her they don't have time to be gentle, Bette's method is far more interesting AND more accurately represents how actual interrogation techniques work. It’s a RARITY in comics, or any other popular media. I think this book deserves credit for breaking from tradition, even if it is a minor break.

Trevor McCarthy handles pencils and inks while Guy Major takes on the colors and both of them are absolutely perfectly suited for this issue of this title. I’ve always praised J.H. Williams’ art for its surreal, panel defying style, but this isn’t an issue that calls for that. This issue needs something a little more grounded, though the fear-toxin induced hallucinations certainly defy that as much they need to, and that’s what McCarthy and Major deliver. There’s nothing supernatural or magical going on here, and the surrealism accounts for less than half of the page count, so it’s good to see some solid, grounded art. I’ve always loved the colors in this book, particularly Katherine’s pale pallor contrasted against dark red hair and the fact that she and her sister are the only ones who look like that. It makes the character stand out so incredibly in every panel she occupies that you only need glance to see who the star is. And I don’t highlight this as much as I should, but Todd Klein’s lettering is just fantastic. It ties the emotional resonance of the hallucinations with the hard-hitting impact of the real-world portions beautifully and, again, the juxtaposition between the two communicates a great deal.

The Bad

I got nothing, this is an absolutely amazing issue of an absolutely amazing book.

The Verdict

This issue balances the emotional with the surreal and supernatural in a way that makes it an absolute must-read. This very easily could have fallen to being a filler issue, but there are just enough great plot threads (did I mention the D.E.O. setting some of the most dangerous Arkham inmates free in Gotham to lure Batman out?) balanced with character development to transform it from a glance to a must-read. A truly great filler issue is still a must-read and this accomplishes that emotionally and even in terms of the events and action, though most of the action is in Katherine’s head. This is actually not a bad jumping-on point, so if you’ve been wondering about Batwoman, pick this one up and start reading one of the most under-the-radar books on the shelf.

17 Comments
Posted by batmannflash

fantastic art as usual!

Posted by MadeinBangladesh

always a 5 star book for me.

Posted by EvilPenguin543

This is definately one of the best things to come out of The New 52. It constantly rivals Batman in terms of quality and Batwoman has become my favorite Bat-book (followed by Batman).

Posted by HollowPrince65

This and Talon are my favorite books from DC. The art is spectacular. The story lines are well thought out and very detailed. I also am a huge fan of the characters involved. Bette, Kate, Maggie, Mr. Kane (never could remember his name XD) and even Diana when she was involved. I know its a low selling book, but it is an amazing one at that.

Posted by Crimsonlord53

Agreed. Oddly enough other then the JL/JLA books all my other DC titles have leading ladies.

Posted by SupBatz

Definitely a great issue. But I kinda wish that Williams and Blackman would finally get to the climax. It feels like this arc has been going on forever. Doesn't take away from this issue being a good read, but I'm kind of itching for the climax we've been building towards for so long.

Posted by ChiSoxRox

This might be one of my favorites from the series, and you all know how hard it is for a particular issue to stand out from the solid gold of this series. The reproposal was adorable and seeing Bette work some mental magic was impressive to see and flowed very nicely inside the plot. Although overall, @supbatz does have a pointI'm hoping next issue we get to see everything sorted out with Batman and Kate finally break free of the damn DEO already and I'm hoping we see the wedding before 2014 .

Also, one bad thing, not about the issue, but in general: no issue next month! Curse thee, villain's month! It's going to be a long September.

Posted by V_Scarlotte_Rose

This might be one of my favorites from the series, and you all know how hard it is for a particular issue to stand out from the solid gold of this series. The reproposal was adorable and seeing Bette work some mental magic was impressive to see and flowed very nicely inside the plot. Although overall, @supbatz does have a pointI'm hoping next issue we get to see everything sorted out with Batman and Kate finally break free of the damn DEO already and I'm hoping we see the wedding before 2014 .

Also, one bad thing, not about the issue, but in general: no issue next month! Curse thee, villain's month! It's going to be a long September.

This arc is finishing up with #26 in December, so it'll take a little longer than next issue. I'm not sure when the wedding would happen, but I think it could be more likely next year.

But yeah, good issue. Setting up some very interesting ideas.

Edited by ChiSoxRox

@v_scarlotte_rose: Gotcha. So yeah, the wedding would be probably late spring of 2014, unless Kate has some new adversary pop up from the Batman v DEO storyline. (I love a good wedding and I'd like to see Kate meet Jamie Sawyer.)

Edited by V_Scarlotte_Rose

@chisoxrox: I wonder how long it takes to plan a wedding in comic time. It's not always clear how much time is passing. If by late spring you mean like the end of the next arc, that could be a decent time. It would be good to see Kate meet Jamie, but I suppose they could meet up before the wedding.

Edited by ChiSoxRox

@v_scarlotte_rose: Yeah, it probably would be good for Jamie to meet her step-mom before the wedding, but I hope all the DEO crap gets settled before sticking a kid into the situation. I have a feeling we're getting some arc building out of the Batman confrontation first to take up the first half of 2014 or so, and I'd imagine the wedding will be after that (maybe with another slight jump at the end of the DEO super-arc to get past the couple months in-comic of "Hold off on calling the caterer, somebody got mugged three blocks over").

Also, I wonder now if Jake's squad will ease up on the punch first, punch some more and try and ask some questions approach and we'll see Bette turning into the central figure in that group. I love how she handled the interrogation; she has a good handling of psychology herself to pull that off.

Edited by V_Scarlotte_Rose

@chisoxrox: Yeah, that seems quite possible, but due to the nature of villains causing trouble so much in comic books, there could be plenty of opportunities to screw things up. I'm sure it'll be a good story whatever happens though. :)

Seeing as the D.E.O. have been a fairly important part of the series throughout so far, I wonder if things will be much different without them being involved. Without any Medusa or D.E.O., the series could take a whole new direction.

I liked that she had something to teach them after they've been important in teaching her and Kate. You think she could join the team herself?

Posted by ChiSoxRox

@chisoxrox: You think she could join the team herself?

I think so; Bette gives a more pleasantly human side to the Crow's Nest (and is a nice contrast with her tough as nails cousin), and seeing her improvise both in mission a few issues back (the scene where Jacob and Mrs. Kane are watching her practice on a screen) and in interrogation leads me to think her quick thinking could be very useful to the group, beyond her being support for Kate.

Edited by V_Scarlotte_Rose

@chisoxrox: She does seem like she could be a good fit. Having her be a member could open up opportunities for her to go on out-of-Gotham missions with them, or have them drop in when there's something particularly dangerous happening in Gotham.

It seems unlikely that the group could get their own series, but I'd be happy to give it a go if they did.

Edited by Canderia718

Its so nice to see a comic-book relationship built on trust and love , instead of tragedy , for a change. I really enjoyed this issue , and I hate that its gonna be 2 months until the next one. Guess it'll be ever better when it finally arrives.