In June, I received the new volume of Batwoman called "Hydrology."
This was, I thought, the 1st edition of the re-vamped character/storylines from DC's archives from its celebrated, "New 52 Series." The New 52 Series, if you're unfamiliar with it is a re-tooling of DC's entire superhero storyline. And, it starts with, supposedly, the beginning of the character's formation, at whatever point that is.
For Batwoman, this wasn't the case. It is actually the 2nd volume that follows a character that DC abandoned more than 50 years ago.
I'm scratching my head as to why, if DC was going to include this character in the NEW 52 lineup would they bypass "Elegy" and include copious amounts of Elegy--the backstory in Hydrology- without just calling "Elegy" - THE NEW 52 issue of Batwoman?
ELEGY, (like Hydrology--"Vol.1--) has both the same writers and artists/illustrators. In Hydrology, as you follow "Kate Kane" in her decision to clean up Gotham City, under the distant but watchful eye of a silent Batman, you see flashbacks of her life and how she started, which led most of us, reviewers, who were unfamiliar with this earlier volume that HYDROLOGY was the start.
ELEGY, indeed, chronicles the beginning of Kate Kane's life from her early childhood to the kidnapping of herself, her sister and mother to her life in the military.
It's there, in the military, that Kate Kane is distinguished as a "different" kind of character. Ms. Kane is a lesbian. And, during a brief but intimate moment with her roommate, it was reported to her supervisors.
This takes place after the Clinton Administration era's change of military policy to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
What does this mean, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"? In this story, Ms. Kane is discharged for a behavior that the military deems unacceptable and she's unceremoniously discharged, despite being an exemplary cadet.
Kane returns to her retired father's home and she's faced with what to do with her life, the still-unresolved issue relating to the kidnapping, the general issue of her orientation in her community and her ability to negotiate personal relationships she finds herself in.
This story is absolutely intriguing.
The story is well-written. The illustrations, lush. And, the storyboard is a visual treat. A lot of time and effort went into carefully crafting this novel to prep it for future issues.
I equally love the storyline, the dialog and the artwork--there's a lot to chew on and to think about.
I mentioned, when reviewing "Hydrology" that this character and the delicate nature of portraying a lesbian character reminded me of Stieg Larsson's "Lisbeth" character in The DRAGON TATTOO books. Both Lisbeth and Kane are bold, daring, unapologetic and provocative--the very things that you'd expect a graphic novel to be to an adult audience.
I wish the team behind this series a long and fruitful future with this character.
BATWOMAN: ELEGY--5 stars. Wish I could give more.