COVERGIRL: A cover of many faces. A conclusion is near, what with Llorona (who appears to have descended from a prehistoric boar) and Batwoman facing off. The lack of eyeballs on Batwoman’s face is worrying, but the determined set of her mouth is reassuring.
Unlike the last cover, which had too much going on, this cover is both complex and coherent. Less busy and more powerful for it.
INSIDE STORY: Batwoman confronts Llorona and her own demons, at least the devil nagging her about the death of her sister-turned-villain, Beth/Alice.
While Batwoman dispels Llorona, she learns that someone, or something, called “Medusa” set Llorona to her deadly task. Soon thereafter, Agent Chase and her boss Skullhead set Batwoman to a task: finding Medusa, which turns out to be a global criminal cartel. If Batwoman won’t take on the challenge on behalf of the Department of Extranormal Operations, Skullhead will throw Jake Kane in prison on traitorous charges.
Batwoman agrees to help, turns down Batman’s offer to join Batman, Inc., and suffers a small lecture from the Batman.
RAMBLE: The opening panels of Kate meditating, with various details of the Llorona case swirling around her, attest to her mental strength. We knew she was clever, but this small series reveals that she shares one of Batman’s roles, that of skilled puzzle solver.
More and more, I’m coming to appreciate the varied and efficient means by which comic book creators “describe” their creations: This short exposition speaks volumes about Batwoman.
Per usual, the art blows the mind’s eye, especially in the first half, where Batwoman defeats Llorona. But it’s Batwoman #5’s narrative structure that warrants extra praise.
In shutting the Llorona case, in allowing the Weeping Woman to achieve peace, the writers have at once pulled seemingly random story threads together and opened up what promises to be a much broader, more involved story: Batwoman taking on an underground organization while trying to balance a bevy of interests and trying not to step on Batman’s sensitive toes.
The overlapping closure of one thread and unfolding of another is a work of structural beauty, and raises the book yet another notch above average.
WHO THE HELL ARE THESE PEOPLE?
Kate Kane: Survived a brutal kidnapping by terrorists that killed her mother and turned her sister into a crazy villain. West Point student, expelled under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
Batwoman: Kate’s awesome superhero alter-ego.
Beth Kane: Kate’s twin sister. According to Kate, Beth turned bad after the terrorist kidnapping and transformed into villain Alice, who drowned in Gotham Harbor.
Jake Kane: Kate’s dad and military big-wig. Kate won’t talk to him, though he’ll talk to her. He claims Beth died at the hands of the kidnappers.
Bette Kane/Flamebird: Kate’s cousin/Batwoman’s mentee, member of Teen Titans/tennis star.
Agent Cameron Chase: Agent for the Department of Extranormal Operations. After Batwoman.
Skullhead: Agent Chase’s skull-headed boss. Not sure of his real name. Remniscent of X-Files’ Cigarette Smoking Man except without skin.
Detective Sawyer: Police detective on the Llorona case. Kate’s love interest.
Llorona, aka the Weeping Woman, aka Maria Salvaje: Demon spirit who sucks children’s breath. Born when Maria Salvaje, alcoholic mother, drowned herself after the drowning deaths of her neglected children.
Medusa: Mysterious, evil organization.