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July 28, 2010 - Amy Phelps
The character of Batwoman got some discussion as of late as being one of the few openly gay characters in the DC Universe. In "Batwoman: Elegy," (DC Comics, $24.99) her origins are discovered during battle with a crime syndicate that worships crime itself.
The story, written by Eisner Award-winning writer Greg Rucka and gorgeously illustrated by J.H. Williams III, follows Kate Kane, a pretty red-haired woman who is trying to balance both sides of her life - as a crime fighter and her personal life.
When the girl she is dating dumps her because she is never available, Kate returns to her solitary ways, turning her attentions to only fighting crime with the help of her military colonel father. A criminal group called the Religion of Crime has tried to kill Kate/Batwoman in a previous adventure, and there is a new leader arriving in Gotham City.
Kate sets out to put a stop to them and to find out why they are seemingly obsessed with her. When Kate finally meets the mad Alice (and remarks Gotham already has one Lewis Carroll-themed supervillain) what she finds is something that shakes her to the core of her being and makes her question everything she knows.
The story delves into Kate's past - showing her as a child with military parents who uphold the idea of integrity and honor and bestow that upon her and the tragedy that pushes her forward, into a career in the military to serve and protect the people.
Her sexual orientation isn't swept under the rug, nor is it shown in an exploitative way - her relationship with a fellow cadet and her refusal to lie about it derails her military service (and provides a cutting commentary on "Don't Ask Don't Tell" without specifically saying anything about it).
Though Kate cannot serve in the military, she spends a bit of time adrift in party girl ways. She meets Det. Renee Montoya, whom she really cares about, but pushes away with her immaturity. When a street criminal attacks her and she defends herself, she also ends up seeing Batman and a new way to defend the people. With the help of her father, she begins her career as a superhero, only to find at the conclusion of the story how much she has lost along the way.
Williams' art for the book is top notch and ever evolving depending on the situation and scene. It's told in vibrant colors, most notably red and black, which as Kate says in the book, are "the colors of war."
The deluxe edition of this graphic novel also contains an introduction by MSNBC's Rachel Winslow and a few pages of sketchbook materials from Williams and a few script pages from Rucka.
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