Batwoman, Vol. 2: To Drown the World
by J.H. Williams & W. Haden Blackman, various artists (DC Comics, 2013)

To Drown The World continues the story from Elegy, collecting issues #6-11 in a gorgeous hardcover. Batwoman, aka Kate Kane, is searching for missing children stolen away by a weeping ghost while working undercover to prevent Medusa, an arcane, global criminal cartel, from taking over the world. She's also in a serious relationship with Maggie Sawyer, who's been tasked with arresting Batwoman.

Needless to say, Batwoman exists outside the conventional bat-narrative. Her adventures tend to be more supernatural in nature, as she gets to deal with magic and monsters and ghosts. Kind of like the X-Files division. It's to be expected that the storylines and the art are going to be surreal. The artwork is indeed fantastic, very visually distinctive. The overall tone is dark and moody, a good match to the universe Kate Kane occupies. The storylines are definitely a bit dreamlike in the sense that they are somewhat unreal. Non-chronological plots can be a great way to tell a story in a very intuitive and creative in a Pulp Fiction kind of way.

However, the timeline is a mess. Although the artwork is spot on, the rest of the story is a bit confusing because the point of view isn't so much layered as it is all over the place. The other threads involving Jacob and Bette (Bette Kane, Kate Kane's cousin, the Titan Flamebird) are good but very tenuously connected to the plot. Batwoman vs. Medusa is a garden variety plotline that could have been lifted from the pages of any Avengers vs. Hydra comic. It's also hard to see what her father's obsession over his niece has to do with Kate's story.

The story has strengths, though. The artwork is stunning. The drama between Kate and Maggie is tightening its pace. Batwoman's rogues' gallery is also becoming interesting. Between the child-napping ghost and the gang of urban myths she has to battle, her villains are very much the metaphorical representation of our personal fears and anxieties, just like Batman's gallery. Although the tangential storylines involving other characters are just that, tangential, they do a fair job of shining a light on the supporting characters in sympathetic ways. The relationship with Kate and Maggie is handled very well, the two going a step further into something more serious when Maggie opens up and trusts Kate more than she ever has before.

If you like traditional superhero stories told in interesting new ways, and you liked the first volume, this is a more than decent follow-through.

review by
Mary Harvey

11 March 2017

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