Batwoman #8 (from The Batmom April 2012)

COVERGIRL: Batwoman #8 is artist Amy Reeder’s last issue. This cover’s a gorgeous farewell.

INSIDE STORY: Once again, like 6 and 7, divvied up by character.

Using her DEO high-tech, Batwoman prepares to destroy the freak-beasts that threatened at last issue’s end. She pauses when Medusa ringleader Falchion threatens one of the children Medusa’s holding captive (to what vile end, we don’t yet know).

Batwoman also pauses when Agent Chase asks her to mine her girlfriend Detective Maggie Sawyer for info. After a tiny, somewhat unconvincing hissy fit, Kate calls Maggie and arranges a date. Despite her mild protestations, Batwoman is just as determined to bring down Medusa as Chase is. While she seems genuinely fond of Maggie, in that detached way bats have of being affectionate, she likely wouldn’t be above prodding Maggie for scoop even without Chase’s directive.

She certainly isn’t above prodding Maggie with a tranquilizer, which she does while breaking Sune out of police custody. Sune, a Medusa operative, quickly turncoats (is that a verb?), going so far as to sling arrows at her former Medusa teammates, motivated, one assumes, by a desire to save the children.

Via flashback Maro, Medusa penultimate honcho, nabs a child molester/murderer and melds his twisted soul with that of the evil Ashoth, a maleficent hook-dwelling spirit. Commingled, the molester and the hook become the blood-thirsty thug who hacked up Flamebird/Bette. Speaking of, Cousin Bette still rests in a coma, Uncle Jake Kane sitting vigil.

RambleI feel the same way after reading Batwoman as I do after shopping at Market Basket: satisfied (by a full narrative/a full pantry) and battered (in both cases, by a whole cast of characters flying at me in rapid succession).

Batwoman’s story is complex enough to necessitate an extensive review of past issues before proceeding. This bothered me at first, but while the issues still seem overly busy to me, I’ve grown more accepting because I like Batwoman (the character and the book).

However, the busyness relates to an item on my exceedingly long to-research list: How do comic book companies and their creators balance the desire for rich storylines and the need to draw in new readers? Is the primary reader-grab occurring at issue 1? From then on, is the #1 goal to keep existing readers? Are mid-run readers considered a bonus? Or are comic book companies actively seeking to draw in new readers well into a series’ run?

Most folks could jump into Supergirl right now, at issue #8 (hits stands tomorrow!) and understand it, but I find her story and character simplistic to a fault. Batwoman sits far away from Supergirl on the complexity scale, but possibly also to a fault. I struggle every issue to reposition myself back in her narrative ganglion and would guess a new reader might be put off by the complexities.

Unrelated, Maggie Sawyer and Agent Chase both grew softer and more traditionally feminine of face under Reeder’s pen, which I didn’t like. They were who they were, and while Agent Chase was, IMHO, hotter than Sawyer in an andro-dyke kinda way, neither was traditionally feminine of face. Why the facelifts?