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Time once again for my favorite Bat comic, Batwoman. The battle between Kate Kane and Medusa has been heating up for fifteen issues now, and it finally came to a boil in the last issue when all the creatures of nightmare attacked Gotham. Does this issue live up to the quality of Batwoman and deliver an awesome monster packed thrill ride, or has this series been consumed by darkness?
In this issue, we see the attack on Gotham through Maggie Sawyer’s eyes as she tries to keep order in Gotham.
What a Weird Issue
This issue was really odd.
First, there is no Batwoman in this Batwoman. You see her on two pages in this entire issue, and she doesn’t move that entire time. It’s very odd. Second, the amazing art of J.H. Williams III is missing. He does the two pages featuring Batwoman, but Maggie’s entire story is drawn with a different artist, Trevor McCarthy, who though talented does not compare nor mesh with Williams III’s style. I would have much preferred the entire issue be done by McCarthy rather than see the first page in Williams III’s gorgeous style only to be shocked into the grittier feel of McCarthy. Granted, this does work to give Maggie’s section a different feel, but having styles this dissimilar undermined the flow of the issue for me. Third, there are some odd narrative choices which rubbed me the wrong way.
Haters Gonna Hate
A large part of this issue deals with the idea of bondage which is pretty cool. Maggie was apparently abused by her Christian family for being a lesbian, and she was literally locked up by her father. Maggie then feels that the entire church is a place of suffering and bondage which is something she has to confront in this issue. The kidnapped children that have been missing in previous issues are in literal chains being escorted down the streets of Gotham for God knows what purpose. The parents of these children and Maggie Sawyer come at odds with each other for being bound by their duty and responsibility. In the end, Mags seems to realize that she is still bound by her anger and resentment. It’s a very rich issue thematically.
The only part that annoys me is the bit about the abusive Christian father. I grew up as a fundamentalist Christian, and most of my friends and immediate family are fundamentalist Christians. They all believe homosexuality is wrong, but none of them would even begin to contemplate the child abuse that Maggie endures in this issue. All of my friends and family take the stand that you should hate the sin but love the sinner. I know there are some Christians out there who are hateful and cruel to homosexuals, but these are the vast minority. On the other hand, a lot of extreme things happen in comic books which do not frequently happen in real life, and there is a Christian in this issue which is shown as possessing nearly a supernatural ability to forgive his enemy, so it seems that the author might have been trying to be evenhanded about things, but when the goodness of forgiving an enemy is weighed against the badness of locking up and torturing your daughter, I’m pretty sure the child abuse carries more weight.
Guns Are Evil!!!
I do not particularly want to get into this since this site is about Batman not politics, but I can’t help but address something which is so clearly present in this issue, the message that guns are bad.
If you have been following along with Batwoman, you know that children have been kidnapped by Medusa since Batwoman #1. Both Batwoman and the GCPD have been unable to retrieve any of the children, so when the parents see their children being taken through the city streets in chains, they assemble and prepare to lead an attack on Medusa’s forces to free their children.
Let’s pause and examine this. If you knew that your child or loved one was in danger and you had the power to help free them from evil people, would you try to save them? If you have the slightest amount of courage and moral fiber, of course you would. Second question, would you rather take on an army of villains with or without a gun? Anybody wanting to go up against a pack of murderers unarmed? Anybody?
Maggie Sawyer hears that this group it assembling, and she goes to stop them. I can understand that. It’s a dangerous situation, and she fears the citizens will get themselves hurt. Trying to talk them down is completely reasonable. However, Maggie draws a gun and points it at a citizen’s head when she finds out that one of them has brought a gun to help with the attempt to rescue their children. The parent does not point the gun at Maggie; Maggie draws first and aims at the parent, so we are saying that it is heroic to use lethal force to keep a parent from using a legal weapon to save the life of their child? What madness is this! The GCPD is being slaughtered. If they had citizens acting as heroes rather than as sheep, maybe they would stand a chance.
The Indoctrination Thickens
As if threatening to kill someone for having a second amendment right was not bad enough, the story takes the “guns are bad” indoctrination even further.
(Spoiler) It turns out one of the parents has already left to try to rescue his child, (the nerve!) and of course he is armed. Maggie tries to track him down fearing, quite reasonably, that he will be killed by Medusa’s forces. Sure enough, the guy doesn’t have the guts to pull the trigger, and he is about to be killed by Medusa’s henchmen when Maggie shows up and saves his life.
(Spoiler) All that is fine, but right after this, the parent turns the gun on Maggie for no reason whatsoever. Maggie just saved this guy’s life, and yet he is ready to kill her because….? It can’t be because Maggie was there to stop him because she never said anything about her intention. Oh wait, I remember. It must be because guns are imbued with an ancient demonic spirit which turns everybody who touches them into a homicidal maniac except of course for police officers who have a wiccan priestess cast a spell at cadets during graduation from police academy which magically makes them immune to the wicked influence of firearms and allows them to handle guns responsibly and use the power for good! I forgot about that.
I can get over Maggie wanting the parents to act like good little drones and take no action to save their children, and I can even accept Maggie drawing a gun on somebody who carries a licensed gun because despite the foolishness of such action, many people have been brainwashed by stories like these to think that guns are bad, so even if it is a bad action on Maggie’s part, it at least makes sense in the context of the story, but I cannot abide a character randomly being homicidal towards Maggie without any explanation. That is just bad writing made to fit a foolish ideology.
It is refreshing for a comic to have enough courage in the power of their story to spend an entire issue away from the title character just to develop part of the supporting cast. Despite the gun stupidity and the drop in artistic quality, this is still an issue well worth your purchase if you are a Batwoman fan.