I’m going to try as hard as I can to judge this book on its own merits and not let how we all got here affect my viewpoint because I, of course, don’t know the entire story. What I still CAN do is base the quality of the book on previous issues and in that way I think Marc Andreyko has had a solid introduction to the title. He’s gotten to the heart of what makes Kate Kane such a determined, focused and strong person and he writes the supporting cast very well. There's a lot of very nuanced, interesting dialog. Like many Year Zero tie-ins, Kate has a good reason to be in Gotham, and in fact has a better-than-most reason to be there, so her presence doesn’t feel forced or too convenient. We even see some glimpses of Maggie Sawyer and the kind of person she was six years ago, which is actually quite delightful.
As for the art, take a deep breath, the pencils are handled by Trevor McCarthy, Andrea Mutti, Pat Olliffe and Jim Fern while Jay Leisten and Tom Nguyen tackle inks and Guy Major unites everyone under the banner of coloring. The fact that there are so many artists on this title is apparent, but the quality is good across the board. The coloring by Guy Major deserves a special mention as it really does help create a cohesive tone across a LOT of different hands.
First of all: the solicitation for this book is wrong, but not in the way it often is: this is definitely a Zero Year tie-in. The solicitation made it sound like the fight between Batwoman and Batman was to continue. Not the book’s fault, but worth mentioning. I’m just going to come out and say it: this issue feels like it has no reason to exist. Not only are we being left on a MASSIVE cliffhanger from the previous issue, but there’s nothing here that wasn’t covered in the #0 issue. I mean SERIOUSLY, I’m not sure what we’re supposed to be taking away from this. Maggie is only on a few pages and she and Kate barely even cross paths, we don’t learn anything of significance about Batwoman’s past (she was always determined and focused...SURPRISE!) and this feels like padding. And as well as Andreyko writes Kate, he doesn’t have that same biting, sardonic wit in the inner-monologue, though I’m hoping that changes next issue.
I mentioned the art being good across all the changes, and while that’s true, it doesn’t make the changes any less jarring. They happen arbitrarily (though sometimes they occur when a scene changes, but not always) and small things like the lighting and character blocking are different from one page to the next. It’s never a major thing, but it definitely permeates the entire issue.
I’m not ready to write off Andreyko yet (see what I did there?...huh?...WRITE...off...HUH?) as this issue doesn’t feel like it was well planned, and that’s not necessarily the creative team’s fault, I honestly think they did really well with what they had. Still, I have to review the issue I read and I really can’t recommend this book, even to fans of Batwoman as it’s simply a retread of content and characterization that we’ve already seen.