I picked up a couple of comics this past week – one is as about as conventional as you can get, the other is pretty new to me. Superman’s 700th issue was released, and it’s pretty amazing to think of any comic reaching 700 issues. That’s really just insane. And particularly for Superman, I guess, since it’s tough to write and create problems for a guy who is practically invulnerable.
Batwoman Elegy is a hardcover collection of Detective Comics #854-860. I was very unfamiliar with Batwoman before this purchase, but the artwork was too gorgeous to be ignored.
Keep reading for my thoughts on Superman #700 and Batwoman Elegy.
We’ll start with Superman #700 which, unfortunately, isn’t much of an anniversary issue. Rather, it’s three independent Superman stories – one with Lois, one with Robin, and one with a brief cameo by the Flash – none of which really have anything to do with one another. There’s not bad at all, and the artwork is actually pretty good, but they’re essentially slices of Superman’s life, out of context, and without much implication that the stories are going to progress (except for the final story, but that one is nothing new).
In the first story, Superman saves Lois from Parasite and doesn’t have too much trouble doing so. He takes her into the sky and like we’ve seen a thousand times, flies with her and embraces her. I suppose this is a nice sentiment for Superman fans, but there’s really no story here. If anything, it’s a sweet homage to the relationship between Lois and Clark. The second story is a silly tale of Superman bailing Robin out of trouble when Robin, behind Batman’s back, tries to take on some criminals that are a bit out of his league. It’s narrated by Robin and somewhat childish, as part of the plot involves getting home in time to finish Geometry homework.
The final tale is the most promising – after years away from Earth, Superman returns (kind of like the Singer movie). During a press conference, a woman confronts Superman and scolds him for being away, as her husband developed a brain tumor and died during Superman’s absence. How is this Superman’s fault? Well, according to the woman, he could have visualized the tumor with his X-ray vision and destroyed it with his heat vision. It doesn’t seem fair to pin that on Superman, but the man of steel still feels horribly guilty over all this. It’s these types of stories that I always thought were the strongest – not the ones about what Superman can do, but what he can’t do. It looks like this particular story will indeed continue, but overall it’s kind of a shame that Superman #700 didn’t give us anything new.
But enough about Superman. The Batwoman Elegy hardcover is a true gem and I highly recommend it. J.H. Williams III’s artwork is absolutely gorgeous (it reminded a lot of Alex Ross’ work) and I found myself staring at pages for much longer than I probably should have as a result. The concept of Batwoman may seem kind of lame at first, too, but writer Greg Rucka does an incredible job of giving the character depth and making her seem like a real person, whether it be through her relationship with her father (a military man) to Batman himself (who has sort of stepped aside in Gotham).
In Batwoman Elegy, Batwoman (Kate Kane) finds herself at odds against a cult known as the Religion of Crime, headed by a demented woman named Alice with a penchant for quoting Lewis Carroll. It’s creepy stuff. Like great villains do, Alice fights Kate not so much physically, but psychologically, and Rucka does a terrific job of incorporating Kate’s past and her relationship with her father into the decisions she makes with regard to Alice. Honestly, I could have bought this book for Williams III’s art alone, but Rucka’s story is right there with it in terms of quality. It’s also interesting to note that Kate Kane is a lesbian, and I certainly don’t recall too many mainstream superheroes (or any superheroes, for that matter) being gay. The good thing is that it’s not a gimmick (like what Marvel did with Northstar years ago); it actually goes to who she is as a character.
Also, I guess it’s worth mentioning that Rachel Maddow writes an introduction to Batwoman Elegy. I knew that Maddow had a thing for lightsabers, but never did I guess that she was into comic books, too. Groovy.