Thursday, April 20, 2017

Superhero Media: Batwoman - Elegy

After reading 52, I was keen to see some more Batwoman, and dove straight into Elegy, a truly beautiful, high-concept crime thriller by Greg Rucka and J.H.Williams III; but it wasn't quite what I'd hoped. Yes, the artwork is some of the best I've seen in years, the writing was some of Rucka's best and the characters were compelling, but there were a couple of bows to genre tropes that resulted in unfortunate cliches, tarnishing the brilliance. The first was the villain being a postmodern take on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, going so far as to only communicate in quotes from the novel and, of course, Through the Looking Glass, whilst being hyper-sexualised. Thankfully "Alice" is an adult and not the underage would-be rape victim of Lewis Carroll; seriously, if people were actually aware of the biographical details behind the Alice books, they'd stop presenting them to children. Secondly, Alice turns out to be the long-lost twin sister of Batwoman, a cliche so old, it's mummified. 

A friend saw Elegy sitting on a cabinet in my house (that's another thing, can we stop doing Opera tropes for Batman now? Dark Knight Returns was 30 years ago) and had a bit of flip through. She made the comment that the character looked more interesting than the current crop of DC/WB films and asked about the odds of a film. I replied that given the protagonist was queer, dropped out of West Point on a "don't ask, don't tell" complaint and lives with her sexuality in the open for everyone to see. I can't think of a character less likely to get their own film, except maybe Batwoman's on-again-off-again girlfriend, The Question. If it seems like I'm avoiding the story, that's only because it's pretty basic; there's a fight between Alice and Batwoman, Alice escapes and then we flash back for a few issues to get the origins story. It's well-written, but, again, falls into cliche too often.

Batwoman, if treated with the kind of care and attention DC don't seem to bother with too much these days, could be a flagship title for the company. I always enjoy different takes and perspectives on Gotham and the scenes where Batwoman calls Batman on his shit are about 70 years in coming. After rereading Elegy, I'm really keen to do another 52 reading, just to get some more Batwoman action. Brilliant character, good read, but falls far short of where it could have been.

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