Batwoman: Elegy
by Greg Rucka, J.H. Williams III, Dave Stewart (DC Comics, 2010)

Elegy is one of those story collections that's great if you love or even just like the character of Kate Kane, aka Batwoman, the newest member of the Batman team. The story also works better if you're familiar with the back story of Kane's abduction and near murder -- via a knife wound to the heart, sacrificial altar-style -- at the hands of a fanatical, doomsday-oriented cult, whose eerie, porcelain doll-like leader, Alice, is a character right out of Lewis Carroll's stories.

At the end of the day, though, it's the art that's the breakout star of this collection of Batwoman's second run-in with a cult that believes she, Kate Kane, is supposed to be the guest of honor at a sacrifice to their bloodthirsty god. It's a solid effort that makes for a great addition to the Bat-family, even though the story itself is nothing that will stick with you when you're done reading.

The best part of the volume is Kane's emotionally affecting backstory. It's easier to follow than the main story and does a good job of emotionally deepening a character who initially came off as stiff and not very interesting. The art is so gorgeous that you'll want prints. The downside is that the layout is so chaotic that it takes a lot of eyestrain to understand just what it is you're looking at. The layout is inconsistent, at times.

Kate's sexuality is approached with an honesty and tact that firmly establishes her as a modern title character who happens to be a lesbian. The relationship between her and her father is wonderful, and it's great that her family is involved in her mission. Another plus, and a significant one, is that Kate isn't adopting the mantle as a way of working through her trauma, but because she genuinely wants to do good.

While Kate's personal story is well done, the rest of the story involving the religious crime cult isn't terribly deep. Exciting, certainly, but predictable. As plots go, it's pretty standard comic-book fare. Alice, as a villain, is rather lost on a stage crowded with the Mad Hatter, Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum, and the White Rabbit. The cult she pretends to lead isn't much different from the other mad cults of other comic books. Even the name, The Cult of Crime, is very generic. But it's compelling enough to make you want to read more about the newest offshoot of the Bat family, simply because of the chances it's willing to take. You may not be drawn into a fully immersive story but Elegy is great-looking and the story, while not memorable, is engaging enough in places to make it worthwhile.

review by
Mary Harvey

10 January 2015

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