This may very well be the first time I’ve talked about a book published by The Big 2 at BuyIndieComics.com. I don’t hate their books. Not all of them. And I even read several of them. Not all of them. To some degree, I read their books because it’s a “know thy enemy” kind of thing, to some degree it’s just because they can afford to pay for some of the greatest talent in the industry and in some cases, it’s because they actually have some interesting characters. With Batwoman, it’s mostly my love for J.H. Williams III – the man has some incredible talent but I also came back to the book because I really like what they’ve done with Batwoman. An added character perk is that they brought back the character Chase, as in Cameron Chase. I had not read her books in the 80′s but when I found out that Williams had drawn the book, when it came out in an omnibus, I had to get it. And I promptly latched onto that character as well.
Several months ago, I reviewed the first issue of Batwoman in DC Comics’ New 52 and I said I would happily come back to the trade when it hit shelves. Well, here I am and I’m happy that I did. I read a lot of comics, it’s what I do. Some books, even when their good, they take me forever to read but Hydrology did not have that problem. The books is fluid – pun against the subtitle intended. Williams with his partner in art, W. Haden Blackman craft an amazing book of character, beautiful art and consequences.
Williams’ writing is all over Hydrology. You can see it in the panel and page layout where the design of the page is just as important as the fine lines by Blackman. The layout of the pages are reflective of Williams’ work on Promethea with Alan Moore. The tops of two page spreads serve to give a headline or even title to the action of the rest of the page. Often this title is in the form of a beautiful image of either Batwoman or another character.
I would be villainous if I did not talk more about the character of Batwoman. I’m on a quest to find interesting female characters that are everything women really are in the real world without the reader being told that they are these things. It is the writer’s job to craft a character that is smart, intense, driven, beautiful and sexy. It is not something that should handed to us in one panel/page that shows her cleavage and her wearing nerd-glasses as a way of proving that she is sexy and bookish – those images standing alone are just titillation and not proof that the writer or artist is great at what they do. The character of Batwoman is obviously strong, skilled, smart – she is a warrior – we get plenty of this in Hydrology. But my attraction to Batwoman is about her character, the people around her and the actions she takes.
Consequences are amazingly important in Hydrology. The character of Batwoman has disconnected herself from her father because of actions he took when she was a kid – more importantly, because he hid these actions and their consequences from her as she grew up. Batwoman is a lesbian and her choice to be out about this part of her life got her kicked out of the military. Batwoman was training her cousin, Bette Kane AKA Flamebird to be her sidekick and her pushing this young girl away got her into some trouble and may very well cost Bette her life. This is the short list of problems and complexity that exists in Hydrology. These interesting story details coupled with the skill of Williams and Blackman is what will keep me coming back to Batwoman. Even though it’s published by one of The Big 2 and not an indie publisher.