I shall become a bat. And a vampire. And then I’ll be a vampire bat! So goes the logic behind what happens to Batwoman in her issue of ‘Future’s End’.
I’m not sure what’s been going on with Batwoman as a series recently, but the character has long been involved in elements of outright Hammer Horror which the other Bat-franchise titles ignore. Whilst Batman broods and lives in a cave, Batwoman has spent most of her time fighting lizard creatures and werewolves straight out of a Christopher Lee movie. So, the idea that she eventually turns into a vampire woman and goe son a rampage round Gotham isn’t a particularly mad idea. This is a story which has been encoded in the character straight from the start.
By Marc Andreyko, Jason Masters, Guy Majors and Todd Klein, this issue embraces Hammer Horror pretty readily, and that makes for most of the more immediately effective material in the story. I’m not sure how much of this builds out of stuff going on in the current series and how much is made up specially for this – once again I wish DC used recap pages – but there are some fun ideas going on in the issue. It may not be a particularly clever issue, as readers will be able to guess the somewhat soppy last page before they open the issue. However, there is an element of throwaway fun to proceedings, which just about carries things through.
The concept here is that Alice, Batwoman’s once-evil (and once dead?) sister is back, but this time as our hero, because Batwoman’s become a vampire. So, simply, she heads out to try and kill her. This leads to a lot of melodramatic and sometimes ridiculous dialogue as the two yell at each other a bunch, whilst a surprisingly effective action sequence between them goes on. Masters handles all of this reasonably well, although at times his storyboarding misses a little detail or could use perhaps an extra panel. His fight sequences give a good idea of how the swing of battle is playing out, but there are moments where the reader will likely wish there could’ve been more detail and progression. On a few pages he also has a few issues with anatomy – one panel where a young Batwoman is cuddling a puppy gives her a strangely huge head – but overall this is a fairly brutal and worthy fight issue.
Peppered throughout are references to things which might be happening in the main series at the moment, and the fact that the reader is thrown into the deep end proves tricky on a few fronts. For one thing, I have no idea how to view Alice’s return, as we’re just given her from the start, and no explanation for what’s really going on here. As the issue plays into high camp, perhaps inadvertently, that also means her dialogue is largely quite shallow, and doesn’t flesh her out particularly. She’s simply the force which goes up against the vampire lady, and it’s hard to know how cohesive the characterisation is. The last few pages are fairly syrupy, as well, which also muddies the character up a little. There’s no real grounding here, so readers don’t get to really care about the resolution so much as they do the fight.
Batwoman offers a fairly entertaining fight sequence, with some campy gothic overtones echoing through, but ultimately a fairly hollow story. As a one-shot, it’s not a bad read at all – just don’t go looking for much depth anywhere. This is silly, rather than involving.