The Batwoman story comes to a close in Detective Comics #949 and lays out the plot for her upcoming solo title. More is learned about her early days with her father and with Batman, and why she chose who she chose.
Detective Comics #949
Cover Price: $2.99
Story Pages: 20
Release Date: January 25, 2017
Collected in: Detective Comics v2: The Victim Syndicate
Other pages to check out: Detective Comics #948
Batwoman and Batman have a long history going back to before either put on the cowl, and this issue sets out to partially explore that. What she learns observing Batman puts her on a path that takes her away from her father’s hard-line military stance, which is where a lot of their tension comes from. Since the beginning of Rebirth and the reveal that Batwoman’s dad has been behind a clandestine organization the whole time there have been questions that needed answering, and some of them get addressed here. More of them, though, get set aside for Batwoman’s new series next month.
Detective Comics #949 is the second and final part of the “Batwoman Begins” arc meant to setup Batwoman in February. That title will be getting a Rebirth one-shot, which could be viewed as redundant due to this arc, but we’ll have to wait and see how that gets played. Ignoring the connection to Batwoman these two issues were also designed to put a temporary cap on the Colony storyline that was introduced in the first arc of this title. While not everything is resolved it does at least shuffle that plot off the board so we can instead focus on the League of Assassins story which starts next issue. It does work well enough to make it feel like a mostly complete story in this book, though, and should hopefully be satisfying enough for people who won’t be picking up the Batwoman title to compliment this one.
This issue, and indeed this whole arc, is a mix of some excellent character pieces mashed together with less-than-stellar work with the Colony. In fairness I was not a fan of the Colony — yet another super-clandestine organization trying to control the world from the shadows — in the first place, so this was always going to be an uphill battle. The creation of Colony Prime does help here, though. It creates a second character, after Batwoman’s dad, who can personify an otherwise faceless organization, while also creating tension with the idea that the mantle was supposed to belong to Batwoman. The character himself is thus far uninteresting, but I suspect most of his story is being saved for the new series.
The strength of the issue comes with the parallel stories of Batwoman’s and Batman’s first true encounter in the past, and them working together to thwart Colony Prime in the present. Batwoman provides a foil to Batman the way guys like Nightwing and Red Robin never could, and writers James Tynion IV and Marguerite Bennett get that. Part of this is because she is an adults in the same age range as Batman, but also because they both have similar standards to live up to. That doesn’t mean they simply agree on everything, but Batwoman is better able to hold her own against Batman in a verbal match. She is a character to be respected, and even Batman can see that. It’s why she leads the team of mini-Bats, after all.
The art still comes from Ben Oliver, but unlike the previous issue he has to be supplemented by some other artists as well. You can definitely tell deadlines were catching up on this issue as there are progressively fewer background shots the further along you get, and the character details get a bit looser. It never looks bad, and the action remains fluid, but it is a step down from the previous issue. Hopefully the main Batwoman title has had a long enough lead time to avoid this.
Detective Comics #949 is a satisfying conclusion to the Colony storyline for this title, and leads in nicely to Batwoman. This book under the direction of James Tynion IV has consistently been one of the best books in the Rebirth lineup, and I say that despite it pushing two new super-secret organizations into an already crowded field. Marguerite Bennett is no slouch herself as a writer, and if this is the take on Batwoman that she is going to run with then her book should be exciting as well. This is definitely an issue to pickup for Batman fans, just make sure you grab Detective Comics #948 alongside it.