This is it. This is what we’ve been waiting for. Ever since Williams and Blackman left the original Batwoman ongoing, and the subsequent extremely questionable narrative choices by the replacement creative team, Batwoman fans have been justifiably guarded. The last time they followed her solo adventures, they got burned. Burned so badly, in fact, that they in turn literally set fire to two very specific issues of Batwoman. There are videos, so you can google that if you wish. I’m not going to link them.
Point being, there would always be doubt surrounding any attempt to make a Batwoman solo book all over again. Even if the creative team behind her relaunch is basically perfect for the job—and holy crap they kinda are—there’s simply no avoiding that trepidation. Greg Rucka himself could have spearheaded this whole thing and I’m not convinced it would have made people feel any more confident.
So, I guess this is a long-winded way of saying that, hey, stow your fear. Drop your guard. I’ve said it before, but I’m saying it louder now since this issue is overflowing with incontrovertible proof of something totally inescapable:
Batwoman is back. Every panel of every page oozes Kate Kane. Every line by Epting, every methodically colored inch by Cox, every word scripted by Bennett and co-plotted by Tynion, every expression, every action; it’s all Kate. It’s all a triumph.
To quote Bennett:
“She fights, and she fails, and she splits her lip and bruises all the way to the bone and she claws up through the mud and keeps going.”
Perfectly apropos to describe the meta-narrative surrounding her return, don’t you think?
Bond, Bats, and Monsters
The overall tone here is Bond. Back when the cover for #1 was revealed, that was my first thought. It looks like a 60s spy movie poster, but without the misogyny. Or racism. Or obligatory christian heteronormativity. So…I dunno, all the theoretically badass spy parts of Bond, including the cheesy one-liners? Sounds about right. Regardless, when I first saw it, I was blasting the 007 theme on a loop while trying to figure out if I should wait for prints of the damn thing to be available (if they ever are), or just get it printed and framed myself. I have yet to decide, but I want it.
Now, truth be told, I have not actually read Brubaker and Epting’s Velvet in its entirety, but others have told me that Batwoman‘s “International Woman of Mystery” aspect is pretty similar to which I responded “Okay yeah but…is she gay and Jewish?” They said no, and that’s the end of that.
Seriously though, if Epting and Cox (whom I must sincerely apologize to for accidentally omitting him in my tweet regarding a topic we’ll get to in this review…total space cadet moment) managed to replicate something that was already awesome, and apply it to someone as objectively amazing and impossible as Batwoman, what’s there to complain about?
Excellence is excellence. Brilliance is brilliance. Plus, it’s an established fact that Kate loves spy novels. One of her favorites being Ian Fleming’s You Only Live Twice, so it’s rather perfect.
Anyway, on to the present. Kate’s internal monologue is a rare thing. Outside of a single instance, it didn’t exist in her 10-issue run on Detective Comics, and it very briefly appeared in short bursts during the Williams/Blackman era of the New52. Typically, we don’t really get to live inside of Kate’s head. Her actions have always spoken louder than anything else ever could, but when we did know her thoughts it was damned effective. Batwoman #1 is no exception.
We start with pain, Istanbul and searching for a name in a rather clever homage to Kate’s very first solo outing, way back in Detective Comics #854:
Turns out, every target she’s tracked so far has been rather indiscriminate in how much suffering they wanted to cause with Monster Venom. Her mark this time, a Dr. Martine, doesn’t necessarily look like your run-of-the-mill white supremacist looking to slaughter hundreds, if not thousands, as gruesomely as possible, but then that’s sort of the point, isn’t it? If the League of Shadows can operate the same way, it stands to reason that Batwoman will be punching entire dental records out of any and all modern nazis that she comes across. Much like her Bombshells counterpart.
Which she explicitly states that she did, and we all just know that there’s no way in hell she’s complaining about that part. Maybe not the sleepless nights, but hey. Sometimes you gotta break a few fascist faces to make a honest omelette. Or something.
Dr. Martine monsters up, because Kate screwed up and didn’t manage to get the actual bioweapon away from him (this is a glorious running theme) and calls for backup: Tuxedo-One. Which is so perfect. And who should that be? Why, none other than Julia Pennyworth herself, hiding out on Kate’s mobile bat-base yacht that has a helicopter Kate still presumably can’t fly! British SAS operative and daughter of the one and only Alfred Pennyworth. Last we saw her was back in Snyder’s Superheavy arc, and it’s great to see her again. You put her and Kate together and there’s so much snark that it just makes sense.
The call signs, by the way, are callbacks to Snyder’s run on Batman, wherein Alfred was Penny-1, Julia was Penny-2, etc. They make a lot more sense in context with Batwoman than they ever did with Batman, in my opinion, but it was cool then and it’s still cool now. Except like, now it’s about 50% cooler. Because Batwoman.
Kate and Julia exchange extremely domestic banter (Kylie and I have already concluded that they are not banging but that’s like another two thousand words so just trust us, or debate us) while Kate strangles the monster’d up Dr. Martine. With chains and lanterns. He goes back to normal, which reminds me so much of that time at the end of Go when Kate punched Abbot so hard he literally un-werewolf’d, and after screaming about The Many Arms of Death (title drop!) he’s killed by a knife to the forehead.
Kate gives chase to the assassin, whom she totally-doesn’t-at-all recognize as Tahani, but she gets away…leaving her fancy Knife behind. I should keep a counter on how many times Kate just really screws something up. Not in any malicious sense, of course. Her fallibility is explicitly why we love her so damn much here at the Fandomentals!
You know what? I’m gonna do it. We are currently at four failures, and counting. One: failing to stop Dr. Martine from monstering up. Two: failing to stop the assassin. Three: failing to catch the assassin. Four: failing to get the name she wanted. At least, at first. Oh, and I guess…five? She lost that bet. Let’s go with five. Put it up on the board!
Goddamn, I love this book.
Boats, Bette and Brooding
Kate returns to her motor yacht, the Sequoia, which is thankfully not the same boat her family skedaddled onto at the end of Batwoman Annual #1, with Julia making snarky comments about how ridiculous their cover is for all of these trips out of the country. It’s rather well-established that Julia isn’t a fan of her father serving the Waynes for reasons she cannot fathom (because raising their son is hard to wrap your head around?), but I guess she’s willing to go globetrotting with someone who doesn’t brood instead of breathe.
Also, interesting note: Kate’s first ops center was a giant tree. Her yacht is named after a tree. S’kinda neat.
Anyway, Kate slips out of her uniform and, gasp, actually has practical attire underneath it?! And it’s still correctly color schemed?! And she’s not tiny and skinny? Epting and Cox, we salute you. I really shouldn’t have to call attention to doing things right, but even Williams drew the “larger-than-life-glowing” sequences of Batwoman in a way that was anatomically exaggerated. Though, that was purposeful and effective. Others, just had her naked under there, which makes no sense.
Also Kate shaved her head again, but I imagine that’s because it’s really damn hot in the Middle East and her uniform is almost pure black. It wouldn’t be the first time she’s been sweating like a pig in that thing, after all.
Moving on, Julia makes a rather important remark that I would typically describe as “blink and you’ll miss it”, but then again, if you’ve heard the name “Bette” before in context with Batwoman, I doubt you could actually miss it. Even if you did blink like, a ton. Like, even if you fell asleep while reading that panel, I’m not sure you could actually miss it.
First of all: that’s six on the counter; she didn’t get Bette anything from the Bazaar that she kinda trashed. Coulda grabbed something in the confusion, you know.
Second: so that’s where Bette’s been this entire time! Oh, man, and it couldn’t be more perfect. After all that time looking up to Kate as this inspirational figure—which she failed to live up to every single time despite that not actually discouraging Bette at all—she finally found something to fight for. The family name. And also honor and all that jazz, which sounds super familiar, for some reason.
Regardless, I’m even more psyched to see her again, now. She’s really not just a kid anymore. I love it.
Also, if you take a closer look at this entire undressing sequence, you’ll notice that Kate’s skin actually transitions from stark white to her normal tone. This clever little piece of art direction, thanks to Cox’s stellar color work, cements that this story is explicitly through Kate’s eyes. Not just a basic POV, but more of an unreliable narrator. Which is kinda great, if you think about it. All the more ways for Kate to set an entire island on fire.
I mean, she totally will. Not on purpose but, it’ll happen.
Moving forward, Julia says that fancy…tech stuff is…tracking the…jesus christ, just look at this abomination:
I—okay, that’s seven for the counter now because that is the single most impractical monitor I have ever seen.
I know everything needs to be kept Bat-themed to keep everything on brand, as Raptor would say, but good lord! The text strings are getting cut off the edge of the screen! Why would anyone build this?! Was this Tim’s idea of a personal challenge before he “died”? Try and create an OS that intelligently adapts to the ludicrous shapes of the monitor it is using? Did Harold Allnut ask Bruce what kind of batcomputer Kate would need and he was just like “go nuts”?
Epting, I swear, this is…brilliant. Just beyond brilliant. Seriously, neither Kate nor Julia seem particularly pleased with it so it just tells a story all on its own. One of stupid and/or ambitious design goals. Seriously, not even Batman would have a computer monitor shaped like his symbol. He might have like, an shell around with that shape, but never the actual screen. I hate everything about this and yet I love it because it is exactly the kind of unintentional extra that Kate exhibits by more or less breathing. Rather than brooding, of course.
Even though she totally does that, too. Just not as intensely. Or without reason.
After Julia is all coy about Kate having never heard of the island nation of Coryana, Kate has a mini internal swearing fit and goes up to the deck to relax and think about that year she spent as a trophy lover for an international crime syndicate’s leader. Guess she couldn’t really forget Safiyah, huh?
Julia joins her on the deck with martinis in hand, because of course she does, and teases her about the presumed brooding. And also about how Kate is super focused on “doing what Batman can’t”, which means she’s been talking about that this entire time instead of it just being this personal goal of hers that she doesn’t verbalize. This is both hilarious and apt.
The short answer, so far, to that question is “operate in broad daylight in a way that doesn’t look ridiculous”. Which is pretty impressive, since meta-textually, there’s a damn good reason that Kate would prefer to work in the light. It’s about not having to hide who she is, both as a Jewish woman and as a lesbian. And as someone who suffers from PTSD. The shadows are effective, but not when you want to make a statement that needs to be loud.
Things like, well, Bennett already wrote a great example:
If there ever comes a day when DC Bombshells isn’t relevant, that’ll be a miracle.
Anyway, Kate cuts through all of Julia’s charm and asks her what the hell she’s really doing there, helping Kate. Is she Kate’s babysitter, her Q, or Bruce’s spy? Julia responds by not…responding. Because she’s a giant snarky troll and knows her reaction can be read about two thousand different ways.
And failure to get a straight answer out of her super-spy handler. That’d be number eight.
Julia skips the part where Kate gets to ask follow-up questions and tells her that the Belfry’s entry regarding Coryana was more or less the same as the Canary Islands but also labeled, presumably, by the “late” Tim Drake as a wretched hive of scum and villainy. Which is a “twist of the knife”. Twist of the…oh. Hah! I get it. It’s because of the plot twist that Tahani is the assassin known as Knife. Stop reading the script, Julia! Kate is a master at puns and cheesy one-liners, so she’ll figure out what happens next!
Then, Julia asks Kate what Coryana is, which means that she failed to keep her past as tightly held a secret as she thought. Ding!
Hiding in Plain Sight
This is, by and large, the single most powerful moment in the issue. It’s also one of the best Kate Kane moments ever. And no, I’m not talking about that bit about her burial at sea, or her the fact that she didn’t care if she lived or died anymore since she couldn’t find a new sense of purpose. Those are poignant and evocative, too. Very much so. But this? This is…different. This is a whole new level of savvy that, well, to be quite honest, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like this. Neither has Kylie.
And it’s not like we aren’t on the lookout for this level of awareness—we are. We once tried to name all the primary media characters not written by Larry David or Woody Allen that spoke Yiddish as something that wasn’t exclusively for a joke/actually made sense and we came up with…the grandparents from Rugrats. That’s it. That’s all we could find or remember. Though that was before Snapper from CW’s Supergirl did it, so that’s three instead of two I guess.
Look, the point is that there really aren’t all that many Jews in media. 99% of the time, it’s “half-Jewish” (which is not actually a thing but that’s a whole other conversation), since only the father of the character is Jewish due to jewishness being passed matrilineally, because that lets the writers say they’ve got a Jewish character without actually doing anything or addressing it like it normally would be literally every day of their lives.
Think Annie Edison from Community or Felicity Smoak from CW’s Arrow. That’s just how it is, so when we’re confronted with something so drastically different due to its accuracy and appropriate understanding of an all too familiar sense of dread and fear…it’s rather shocking. Because people don’t get it. It’s weird for Jewish people to see themselves represented in a way that is both organic and displays a deep, empathetic understanding of what it actually means to be a Jew living in the world.
So, when something like this suddenly appears it’s…well, it kind of seems impossible.
This is scary. It’s real fear, much like last week’s white supremacist meta-narrative becoming all to clear. Kate is a Jewish woman and she is very far from home. There was an interview many months ago where Tynion talked about how he and Bennett wanted Kate to be so well known across the world, due to her partying and drinking and “scandalized” removal from the Army, that she could walk into the dingiest back alley bar in Cairo and they would know her drink of choice.
At the time, I thought this meant “they know she’s gay and rich.” Not “they know she’s gay, rich and Jewish.” But that’s what this is. Rafael patches Kate up, shaves the side of her head so she can get stitches, and reminds her that she’s not an unknown right now. She is not truly hiding who she is, though part of Kate clearly understood this. Of course, Rafael makes two false assumptions about Jewish people that tell us just how smart Kate was about this.
And boy, oh boy, was she smart.
The first is rather simple: “All Jews keep Kosher”. Yeah. Not true. I don’t. Have you ever had crab? Or burgers? Crazy! Tons and tons don’t keep Kosher, but plenty keep a Kosher kitchen which basically means they keep Kosher at home, but not when eating out. Middle ground because that’s like, our thing. Even so, this is an extremely common misconception that is very deeply ingrained into the cultural consciousness when it comes to what non-Jews know about Jewish people. As such, many assume that Jews cannot eat or drink something unless they know for sure that it is Kosher…which is sorta true for the people who do keep Kosher, but not to some intense degree that Rafael is implying. Which is honestly part of what makes this so perfect: he has no idea what he’s talking about.
Second, though, is a lot more subtle and far more impressive.
Kate’s a target, and a big one. Terrifying enough that she’s queer in an area that no one would call safe (not that Gotham particularly is…), but she’s also a woman. And to top it all off, she’s Jewish. The amount of hate she suffers through…well, I can empathize with two-thirds of it, let’s go with that. Question is, how can she shake people from her trail that would want to do her harm? How can she up her chances of survival and hiding who she is? Exploit the hell out of her tattoos. It’s not why she got them, but she’d be a fool not to use them to her advantage. I’d bet good money that any and all flashbacks we see will have Kate wearing something sleeveless or with a very low-cut back so they are always on display.
See, it’s a common misconception that Jews cannot get tattoos. Since, if they do they can’t be buried in Jewish cemeteries as it is considered self-mutilation. There was a time when this was true, but it hasn’t been for quite a while, at least in the vast majority of Reform and Conservative sects. Even some Orthodox sects are starting coming around to the idea of dropping that rule, since if tattoos are a form of self-expression, why would that also be considered self-mutilation?
Kate knows all of this. Rafael, along with pretty much everybody she could ever possibly meet on her years long booze-cruise, do not. So yes, it would normally “throw people off” that she’s Jewish, as it apparently did rather well. After all, according to Rafael…it’s just a rumor, even though it’s true. His comments about blood and pain and scars require no explanation.
Kate is who she is, no matter how hard she tries to hide it: an angry Jewish lesbian woman. Who is sometimes out for justice. Occasionally with a gun. But not like, crying for Justice—okay, I’ll stop because you can’t hear the drum snare.
So, yeah. That’s what that is, and it’s going to stick with me, and many others, for a long, long time. More than that, though, is that this was written by two non-Jewish people. And if I didn’t know that for damn sure, I’d assume they were. That’s how perfect this is. That’s how spot on. I know Bennett did exhaustive research into Judaism when developing DC Bombshells, but I never imagined that she’d get it on a level this deep. Bombshells didn’t need to be subtle; its Jewishness is front and center and a big focus.
But this? This is so far beyond that. This is different. This is something else. This is phenomenal.
Sure, queerness and Jewishness have a decent amount of things in common. How the world reacts and treats both groups, and the suffering along the way, but—well, Kylie said it best when we discussed this at length: it’s all about the language of the oppressed. Neither James Tynion IV nor Marguerite Bennett are straight, so with enough research, hell, apparently anything’s possible.
Right. Anyway, moving on from that. Just gonna kick the counter up for failing to hide her full identity from strangers and keep on going. Or for cracking her head into a rock while being a drunken dipshit. Take your pick.
Loose Lips Sink Ships, Kate!
After Tahani reenacts the ending of The Godfather, where Safiyah is apparently Michael Corleone and Kate is…whoever the hell his wife was, and Rafael ominously narrating about finding things, we snap back to the present as the Sequoia approaches the coast of Coryana. We’re back in Kate’s head again, and it seems like she’s ready to burn the whole damn island to the ground.
She reminisces about pain once more, focusing on the emotional and psychological kind rather than the physical. Then she considers what one would have to do to cause themselves more pain, which is just par for the freaking course for her and that other lady who she keeps reminding me of. And then she…gets off the ship by using a random chain to swing across—seriously, Kate? It’s the middle of the day! If you keep doing crap like this your supposedly perfect stealthy approach is going to mean nothing. Well, even if that does happen, at least nobody remembers who—
Okay. Okay, that’s fine. You coulda tried to, y’know, not respond to him but I guess you got caught up in the moment of seeing an old friend. It happens. To you. Pretty much only to you, but that’s what happens when you don’t dissociate with a persona. Regardless, he seemed nice. You remembered him fondly. He’s an ally, then. He can help you…
Dying. Because of something you did. Dying because of something you did. In a comic published on The Ides of March. Goddamnit, Kate. You and your dramatic irony.
Welp. Guess we’re in for one hell of a ride, huh? But, uh bad news about that, friends. Batwoman #2 won’t be out until April 19th. That’s five weeks instead of four.
NEXT WEEK: We get to find out if Kate survives getting stabbed with magic swords! Again! Doesn’t that just sound exciting?
Well, I think it does.
Writers: Marguerite Bennett and James Tynion IV
Pencils/Inks: Steve Epting
Colors: Jeromy Cox
Letterer: Deron Bennett
DC Elevates Batwoman to Live Action, Cancels Her Book
Ugh. Before anyone asks, no, there’s no way to save Batwoman from cancellation. Again. Volume 3 is dead. If you’re one of the ~25,000 people who bought and read Batwoman during the New52 era, in which her book reached a total of 45 issues (including two annuals, two #0s, and a crappy tie-in), but then just noped out reading Batwoman Rebirth…welp. Fuck you.
Because yes, that’s how frustrated I am.
The comics world didn’t get less diverse between the first cancellation and the relaunch. Sure, we’re sort of living in a Darkest Timeline scenario but that doesn’t mean socio-cultural progress evaporates overnight! Especially when the kind of people that Kate’s original ongoing managed to reach are only more numerous now. Which just begs the question: why did nobody read this book?
Unfortunately I suspect that I already know the reason. It’s kind of the same reason people seem to be sleeping on Black Lightning despite it being streets ahead of every other DCTV production. The lesbian wasn’t shtupping anyone (well, not in present day). Of course, in Black Lightning’s case, there’s also racism involved, but the more explicit and assertive Jewishness Bennett wrote in for Kate probably set off quite a few antisemite alarms. This attitude is unfortunately disturbingly common within queer spaces, because of course it is. Which means, yes, one can technically blame Nazis for Batwoman’s cancellation. I know I am!
(Or DC suits mumbling about ROI.)
So where do we go from here? Apparently, we sit on our hands and wait for December to roll around and watch the CW likely take a giant dump all over Kate Kane. I’m not going into this hopeful, and it’s not because I think it’s impossible to do it right. Frankly, I don’t even think it’s that difficult to pull off. You just need to actually know who she is. Here’s a list of people who have demonstrated that they fit that description:
- James Tynion IV
- Marguerite Bennett
- Tom Taylor
- Gail Simone
- J.H. Williams III
- Haden Blackman
Notice someone missing? It’s Greg Rucka! Because apparently “his” Kate is entirely unrecognizable from the Kate we have now (and have always had), which means he’s either pissed he didn’t get to write this stuff and is being a jerk about it…or his original intent was absolute shit. Either way, not a great look for Greg.
Obviously, none of those people will be writing/advising/consulting for the DCTV yearly crossover event. Maybe there’s someone on one of those four writing staffs that does get her, but the odds of that are exceedingly low. And even if someone does, the odds of them being able to adapt her right are basically zilch.
Why? It’s not because I suspect they’re only doing this as a palate cleanser/apology after the nazi-tastic crossover last year. It’s also not because Kate’s maybe being brought in to show off their stunning “progressivism”. It’s because the folks over at DCTV clearly lack one of the most fundamental understandings of how Kate can even be Batwoman: there needs to be a Batman.
For anyone who knows the story well, this should not be a surprise even if it does sound like a fanboy’s wet dream. There will always be a Batman, regardless of who happens to be under the cowl, but there are so many ways that there wouldn’t be a Batwoman. So many, in fact, that the entire running theme of Bennett’s Batwoman run was about that explicit choice she made, and the one she continues to make every time she operates as Batwoman. Kate chose this. She was not compelled by a bat flying through the window, or the hands of fate. The Batwoman is not a universal constant.
Kate Kane wanted to protect innocent lives, and her country. Following in her family’s long history of military service, she enlisted and attended West Point. Near the end of her second semester, she was dishonorably discharged under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ (watch them cut this and never elaborate on why she was kicked out aka the Andreyko Origin) because she refused to lie about who she was. The flag she wanted to serve tossed her into the dumpster, and that’s where she forced herself to stay in a drunken stupor for years and years.
The Kanes are a very prominent family, so this made headlines. Kate was basically outed globally. She had money, and her father had no earthly idea how to help her find a new purpose in life since she’d dedicated her entire existence towards serving others and fixing the world from literally her twelfth birthday. That is, until she found a new flag.
If not for that one night in the alley—in which she was not saved by Batman, but rather offered a helping hand out of the rain—Kate would never, not in a million years, have considered vigilantism as an actual option for her. Because that’s completely insane. The only way Kate becomes Batwoman is by meeting Batman. Thus, there cannot be a Batwoman without the Batman.
So, does that mean there is a Batman in the Arrowverse now? Is he dead? If Bruce is dead, why isn’t Dick the new Batman? If Dick is dead too, why not Tim? Or a resurrected Jason? Or, shit, Damian? Jean-Paul Valley? There has to be a goddamn Batman, and ultimately it doesn’t matter who it is, there just has to be somebody in the costume to inspire Kate and legions of others.
Tynion’s run has been very explicitly about what the Bat means to different people. How it can manifest, and how people interpret the symbol. It’s no accident that The Colony, Kate’s father’s black-ops group designed to operate like a literal army of Batmen in terms of effectiveness, exists in indirect opposition to Bruce’s ideology…yet more or less consistent with Kate’s. Because Kate doesn’t wear a costume; it’s a uniform.
So why the hell would Batwoman of all people be the focus of a DCTV four-part crossover? What possible plot contrivance could there be to remove every other vigilante from Gotham, because literally all of them are more inclined to interact with “tourists” than Kate? The answer is going to be stupid or shallow.
Whoever shows up on screen won’t be Kate Kane. She may have the name, and the colors, and the look, and the mentality of a Navy SEAL/Green Beret/Marine, but it won’t be her. Because at the end of the day, as far as DCTV is concerned, Kate is a lesbian and they got lots of good press from that Alex stuff, and hey Kate once dated Floriana Lima’s “Maggie Sawyer” (who totally isn’t a watered down Renee Montoya) so this all makes perfect sense!
Well, all of that stuff, but also a lack of emphasis on her Jewishness kind of breaks her character. Intentional or otherwise (great job, Greg!), Kate needing to scream for her own right to exist is kind of integral to how she operates and lives and you know…exists. Kinda speaks for itself considering what she had to do to find some sort of grounding in her life after the military shat her out.
All of that being said, the optics here are just…really bad. DC shoves Kate on the silver screen and then axes her book? Look, we’ve all seen Marvel do that over and over and over and over and over again with their movies, but this is just a new level of stupid. Considering how the only other queer lead book DC has in their primary line is the abysmal Wonder Woman by James Robinson (that is somehow getting a spin-off featuring the somehow not copyright infringing Wonder Man?!), this is a Bad Look.
Which makes me suspect that DC isn’t so much as cancelling the book, as they are retooling for a relaunch around December with a new #1 and creative team. Probably with Kate Perkins because she’s written two Batwoman stories for DC already, despite them being just…comically insincere.
Or maybe they’ll give it to Gail. God, I hope they do. I mean, I’m heartbroken that Bennett lost her literal dream job because people won’t consume queer media unless there’s shipping, but I’m also terrified of Kate just…going up on the shelf. For a very, very long time. At least the solicitation for the series finale has Kate clearly getting back together with Renee. It’s not much, but it’s something.
Back in February of last year, I told you folks that this was likely going to be Kate’s last chance at a solo book. Let’s pray I’m not right.
Images courtesy of DC Comics
Sunshine Of Your Love: Raven Year 2 #5-6 Review
We’ve now caught up to the series with the next two issues in Raven: The Pirate Princess. If you’d like a review of the most recent issue, #7, you can read my review here. For now, let’s see how our favorite half-elf is faring under the sea.
Issue #5: The Kiss
a.k.a “lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice”
This issue begins on the mysterious island where Sunshine has found herself after landing in the drink. Why is she here? Who is this queen? It’s been a month, what’s she been up to? No time for all that! We have to use the Mirror of Galad…I mean Ursula’s Cauld…no I mean Queen Pavarti’s scrying pool to check on our friends back on the ship.
There, Ximena is angsting over her relationship with Raven after the loss of sunshine. The rest of the crew is taking part in a pullup contest between Raven and Katie, which Raven wins with gusto. She and Ximena are gay for a while until Ximena drops the bombshell: she wants to learn to fight. Their eventual near-kiss (there’s so many of those in this comic) is ruined by a lighting strike! But it is not the sea being moved by Sunshine’s antipathy towards Ximena, but by her own magic! Which she now has. The scene shifts back to the mysterious island where the irate queen casts Sunshine out of her palace for her inadvertent magic use. She mopes on a bench until she judo flips a mysterious girl, who asks her to dance.
Returning to the ship without the conceit of the mirror, the new drama is a poem that Dezzie has found. The embarassing poem, read aloud to the crew, is addressed to Quinn, who angrily storms out after an impassioned speech about acceptance. But it turns out that the poem was written by Zoe. Finally confessing her affection for Quinn, the two finally kiss at the end of the issue.
I enjoyed the relationship drama of the issues, as I’ve largely resigned myself to this shift in focus for the comic. The art has shown a marked improvement from the last few issues, perhaps due to a more diversified art staff. The Zoe/Quinn relationship is perhaps my favorite out of all of them, with the perfect mix of angst and fluff without too much contrivance to accomplish either. The Sunshine/Ximena/Raven triangle, by contrast, is becoming more and more of a relic as Ximena and Raven get plenty of good moments while Sunshine whines about it.
The shift from the island to the ship is a strange one. We know Sunshine’s ok, but we don’t know anything about the month she’s spent on that island. We find out her side of things next issue, but for now it just seems kind of odd. Especially since it gets so little focus compared to the next issue.
Issue #6: The Heart of the Sea
a.k.a “Happy, huh?”
We finally find out where Sunshine is. She has been rescued by a gay mermaid, as if there is any other kind, and taken to the island of Queen Parvarti. Sunshine is part of the Queen’s “collection” of women rescued from death at sea. It’s sort of a Flying Dutchman but for women. Also not dead. Maybe.
In any case, Sunshine is acclimating very well to the island thanks to Ananda, the girl she flipped last issue. The two go dancing, share dinner, and have a flirty time in Ananda’s garden. They share their origins and bond atop a romantic waterfall. It all seems idyllic. But when night falls, a gap appears. Ananda is not just a kind soul here to help. She was in fact sent to Sunshine by Queen Pavarti. A spy? A genuine attempt to help them both? Sunshine, and the reader, is unsure.
I had much less to recap this issue as there just wasn’t so much. This is one of those slowed down issues, where it’s very talky and introspective. As I alluded to, this really should have swapped with the last issue. I love flashbacks, but when its such a short time as this it may as well have just happened.
In-issue, Sunshine’s internal monologue is hilarious as much as it is heartfelt. I loved how she shut down whenever someone pretty looked at her or kissed her. Her emotions seem to be a bit scattered as she shifts from sad to in-love to happy and worried over the space of a few hours. Ananda is kind of bland, sadly, but she’s sweet enough that she’ll be able to fill her role helping Sunshine heal with gusto.
The biggest quibble is the thus far unaddressed issue of the Queen’s “collection.” I commend Raven for not going the Steven Universe route and making the literal ownership of people some kind of fun quirk as opposed to something worrying, but it’s only very briefly touched on as a problem. I know it’s not dealt with next issue, but there’s still time.
The only big problem with these issues is the order of them. Issue #5 doesn’t justify the scenes with Sunshine outside of a Little Mermaid shout out and a way to yet again interrupt Ximena and Raven’s kiss. Plus, the story about the island is so much cooler than the relatively mundane drama on the ship. Why would I care about a high-school drama about misplaced poems, albeit a well done one, when there’s an ISLAND OF MAGIC GAY MERMAIDS! Like, that is such a neat idea and there’s so many places it can go. But, inevitably, we’ll be back on the ship next issue to continue the dating drama.
These issues also confirm my fears that there’s a long lull happening in this part of Year 2, which will reach its zenith in the doldrums of Issue #7. However, the character writing from Whitley is still top tier, and I really do find myself enjoying the fights, make-ups, near-kisses, and snark coming out of the characters. I just kind of wish the adventure of it all got more attention.
If anything in the above review interested you, you can pick up digital copies of Raven the Pirate Princess on Comixology , and collected physical editions on Amazon. If you’re already a fan, you can spread the word about Raven on social media and to your friends! Share this review with them! Review the book on Amazon or at other retailers. Issue #8 of Raven: The Pirate Princess drops on the 23rd of May, and is available for pre-order today!
Images courtesy of Action Lab
A Not So Final Goodbye To Jane Foster
See, I knew that Marvel was going to pull of something like this. I’ll admit I’m slightly annoyed. Death should never be used as a plot device unless you’re fully going to commit to the consequences both figuratively and practically within the realm of story and of emotional response from the reader. Not only do you risk losing the significance of said life ending, you also break the readers immersion into the fantasy the world that you’ve created. They will no longer fear the suffering or death of their favored characters if there are none.
On the other hand, I’m am so glad that Jane Foster is still with us. Only a writer like Jason Aaron could completely paralyze us with the fear of losing such an important and beloved hero and still fill us with a sense of satisfaction and pride when she returns.
So yes, after a long and enduring battle with the Mangog alongside her equally arduous struggle with cancer, Jane gave us a sacrifice that we would never forget. And she gave us a return that even though we should resent (because comics) it, we can’t help but shed tears of pure relief and joy that one of Marvel’s most well written characters will live on to fight another day…and fight she will.
With the series over and the future looking all the brighter for Jane, it’s important to remember our journey with her. We’ve seen her victorious and we’ve seen her defeated, yet never broken. The spirit she brought out in all of us is why her story will remain one of the timeless classics in comic book history. Yet thanks to these two final issues, we definitely know that this is not the last we’ve seen of Jane playing a hero. She may never be able to become Thor again, but we know thanks to the epilogue issue that things are far from over. The Mangog may be vanquished but threats are ever present.
At The Gates
Now we all knew that Jane’s death would be honored by Norse belief even though she herself wasn’t actually Asgardian. As such, the revered dead who died in battle go to Valhalla to live out the rest of their existence in glory. So it really wasn’t a surprise when she ended up before the gates. What was surprising however, was Odin’s appearance and subsequent reaction. Since the start of the series, Odin has been a constant thorn in Jane’s side. He was obviously not happy about his son’s birthright being taken by another and spent most of his time in the comic series foiling her every chance he got. They shouted and dueled at some point or another. Even when he was deep in mourning after Loki stabbed Freyja with a poisoned blade, Cul Borson did not make life any easier for her.
The true surprise was the fact that upon learning that Jane Foster had taken his son’s mantle, he showed nothing but respect and acceptance. Considering she had given her life so that his people and family could live, I would expect no less. Even from someone as thick headed as Odin. It’s a heart wrenching scene for sure, as we see Jane take in the finality of death. In the moment, she was ready to give her life to save others, but now that she really has a moment to look at it, she was not ready to die. Yet try as he might to convince her of her reward as an honored dead, she was not the only one who wasn’t ready to let go.
Back in the cosmos, Odinson and the rest of Asgard mourn Jane’s passing. Yet the anger, rage, and denial in Odinson only serves to pique the attraction of what lived inside Mjolnir. As you know, Mjolnir was destroyed along with the Mangog when they were thrown into the sun, leading to the ancient hammer releasing the mother storm. Odinson’s will alone is not enough to channel the mighty storm as is begins to break him down, even his mighty Uru arm melts at its power. I think it was safe to say we all cheered and cried when Odin shared the power of the storm, causing the great tempest to breathe life back into Jane.
The comic ends in such a promising way. Jane confirms that she will resume her treatment, as her rebirth has given her a new lease on life. Odinson also prepares himself for the challenges that will face him soon enough in order to reclaim his identity as worthy, as Thor. Our two Gods of Thunder depart as Odinson gives Jane a surviving piece of Mjolnir. Our spirits fly with hope as we get a deserved happy ending, and surely this hope will let Jane fly into our memories.
Jane The Remembered
Remember back in Mighty Thor 700 when he got a random glimpse of three very Thor like Asgardian women? Well, they get their own story in the first half of The Mighty Thor: Gates of Valhalla and it’s way more significant than we originally thought. They are the granddaughters of Thor Odinson some billion years after the present time. In this charming and beautiful story we see the three sisters—Frigg, Ellisiv, and Atli—battle across time to find the greatest Thor of all.
During their travels, we see a young Odinson struggle to lift Mjolnir for the first time. We also see all the silly variants of the God of Thunder over the years, yes, even the frog. The sisters also witness a fight between their grandfather and Loki far in the future, telling of possible stories to come. Yet, by the end, their search is complete and they come across Jane Foster, who in that time was struggling in fear to return to chemotherapy.
This right here was so important. Not only do we see a human Jane again, but we see the real fear that affects so many afflicted with this deadly illness each and every day. Not everyone wins the fight against cancer, but everyone who fights is a hero, just like Jane. The end of this made me feel a sense of peace and comfort knowing that even so far in the future Jane is remembered for the hero she was and that her story is not yet over. She will fly again and a war will wage, one that everyone seemed to forget about.
The War of the Realms is Coming to Midgard
One of the biggest plots of this comic series was not closed with the end of the series. The three sisters transition the tone of this comic from light hearted to dark as soon as they mention Jane’s role in the war of the realms. The last we saw of this war was during the War Thor arc, where Malekith had a firm grasp on many realms. In the second story of the issue we see him solidify his hold on nearly all of them. His alliance with Roxxon corp, a deal struck in the 2014 series, is virtually unopposed as the Asgardians regroup and resettle on old Asgard.
This story shows the malice and pure ruthlessness of his campaign against the entirety of all the realms within the world tree. Not only that, but he also emplores the angels of Heaven with news that their greatest enemy, Asgard, has fallen. Dark days are indeed coming as we are left with a vision of earth burning among the various armies under Malekiths influence.
I love this portion because it lets the reader know that this huge of a story wasn’t forgotten and eventually loose ends will be tied. I also love that it will be it’s own event, either within the main Thor series coming in June or as a standalone series. What I don’t like is that I have to wait until next year for it. Seriously, that’s way too long a wait. Yet, we can find solace that Jason Aaron will continue writing Thor in June and also his run on the Avengers, which is already promising, two issues in. I say all we can do is prepare ourselves for the eventuality that is the war of the realms and hope our favorite Goddess of Thunder will return in all her glory.