Batwoman #3 (from The Batmom January 2012)

COVERGIRL: I’m starting to crave the Batwoman red against sea blue-green.

The image of Agent Chase dragging Batwoman from the waves while waving a gun neatly tends to the plot. But the brilliant stroke lies at cover’s bottom, where a woman’s face stares upward. I suspect she’s Batwoman’s sister (Beth)-turned-villain (Alice).

She’s genius; a showgirl ripped from a 1930s theater poster, with lips of faded Batwoman red and ocean’s-blue tears streaming from her eyes. The bubbles floating past her cheeks read “all dead,” but her eyes and mouth beg doubt. The eyes might be locked, lifeless, on Alice’s last vision or perhaps she’s seeking … her sister Kate Kane/Batwoman, her father Jake Kane, her next victim. Her mouth opens ambiguously, reaching for a last gasp of air that’s not there, screaming for help, or laughing at her sister’s imminent death beneath the water.

INSIDE STORY: Wow, I was wrong. Not Beth-turned-Alice. The ’30s poster girl on the cover is Batwoman.

As Batwoman sinks beneath the waves, Llorona wraps bony fingers around her arms. In the villain’s clutches, Batwoman descends into a younger, softer self with blond curls, then re-emerges a fierce superhero, socking it to Llorona before pulling herself onto dry land … where Agent Chase awaits.

Chase accuses Batwoman her of plotting terrorism. Batwoman delivers a WTF in the form of much kicking, then runs home to tell her mentee, Flamebird/Bette, she’s no longer willing to work with her.

I presume Batwoman ditches her superhero cuz for fear of Flamebird’s safety, but she’s mean about. Flamebird takes the diss as a challenge: In the book’s last panel, she’s uniformed and lurking atop a gargoyle.

(Digression: I love the gargoyles of Gotham and the opportunities they present for sky-high brooding.)

In other news, Kate misses a date with Detective Sawyer because she’s beating Chase’s goons but she makes up for it with a kiss. Later, Chase confronts Jake Kane with the knowledge that he’s fathered a bat.

RAMBLE: Again with the art. These comic books boast diversity and beauty and what I assume are astoundingly short turnaround times and superior synergistic relationships between artists and writers. The scenes featuring Batwoman as Batwoman, only 3 issues in, have a signature aura about them. The artists – JH Williams III (artist) and Dave Stewart (colors) - set them distinctly visually apart from the other panels.

Gorgeous art aside, I found myself repeatedly perplexed this issue. Who was Batwoman morphing into while in Llorona’s grasp, and why was Llorona referring to meeting her again? Is Batwoman protecting Flamebird, or is she protecting herself from building meaningful relationships?

I’ve found myself lost repeatedly since I’ve entered this universe, a place I’m quickly coming to love but in which I still feel a stranger. Plots sometimes confuse me, and I wonder if it’s because I haven’t learned to navigate a comic book. I also lack a historical perspective. The New 52 is all about a clean slate, but I’ve still added “Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors,” “The Supergirls,” and “DC Comics Covergirls” to my Amazon Wish List.

Some days, the writers I’m following online (including @dcwomenkicknass, @geekgirlcon, @inkamazon) ground me; other days, they make me feel the neophyte I am.

I’m writing into the wind with not much ballast at my back. Like a bat, I’m winging it. And for now, that’ll have to carry me through.