Kate Kane gets some action in “Batwoman #2”

Warning: Spoilers for Batwoman #2 below!

I forgot to pick up Batwoman #2 when it hit shelves last Wednesday, but I remedied my failure by zooming to the comic shop Saturday afternoon and bursting through the doors in a wide-eyed panic, screeching about, “Have you sold out of Batwoman already? Is my personal happiness doomed forever? Shall I run into traffic as penance for my tardiness?” (They hadn’t. It wasn’t. I didn’t.) I read the whole book cover-to-cover three times in the parking lot, at which time I officially decided that our favorite lesbian heroine is in safe hands of J.H. Williams III.

Batwoman #2 continues with the four stories Williams & Co. introduced in the opening issue, and it adds a fifth one for good measure. Current baddie, The Weeping Woman (La LLorna), is still snatching children from their families. Kate and Flamebird are still working out the finer points of their superhero/sidekick relationship. Kate is now grappling with the cryptic proposition Batman made her at the end of the last issue. And Detective Sawyer’s still got mad hots for Miss Kane. Plus, Agent Chase from the D.E.O. has arrived in Gotham looking to unmask Batwoman — and she starts by accusing Detective Sawyer of wearing the cape and cowl!

Funnily enough, the actual bad guy storyline is the least interesting part of this “Hydrology” arc. I mean, don’t get me wrong: Williams’ underwater art is one of the most gorgeous things I’ve ever seen. But Batwoman is best when it’s a character study, and the other story threads give us much better insight into Kate’s psyche. To wit:

Batman’s proposal — which Batwoman explains to Flamebird while roughing up some random hooligans at a casino — is that Kate join Batman, Inc. (“a worldwide organization of Batmen”). Kate is skeptical. For one thing, taking orders from a dude is not on her list of ways to have a good time. (See: her father.) And trusting men isn’t really in her repertoire either. (See again: her father.) And she really loves her own brand of Bat-wear. (See: So do I!) It’s an interesting dynamic she’s got going on with Batman — for the first time maybe ever, he needs her more than she needs him.

Also interesting: The Batman, Inc. exposition features several Bat-folk in the background, including Kate’s ex, my beloved Renee Montoya as The Question. (Let it be foreshadowing for her eventual inclusion in this title! She was on that tribute wall in issue #1, but let that be for exemplary service and not for, you know, death!)

The other great character bit is the four full pages Williams dedicates to Kate and Maggie’s first date. It’s no surprise that Kate’s got game, but her sweet-tempered charm is always such a nice surprise. Two pages earlier, she’s cracking skulls and breaking teeth, and then suddenly she’s reaching for Maggie’s hand all adorably and taking her leave on Maggie’s doorstep like a gentlewoman. This Batwoman/Sawyer/Chase thing is gonna be rad, I just know it.

And, of course, the whole Batwoman experience is heightened to infinity by Williams’ art and layout. At this point, there’s not a comic book reader on earth who hasn’t swooned over Williams’ skill to a Beatlemania degree. But he never stops deserving the praise. His different-art-for-different-stories approach continues to bend my brain in the best possible ways. The La Llorna water stuff actually flows. The x-ray effect in the fight scenes is stunning. And the page where Det. Chase is piecing together clues? Frankly, it is too good for us mere mortals. We don’t deserve it.

I’m so sold on Batwoman’s solo title that I’ll be camping outside my comic shop until November’s issue arrives. In the meantime, I’m really enjoying Gail Simone‘s take on Barbara Gordon’s return to the Batgirl costume, and the entire creative team’s work to bring Wonder Woman back to her former glory. Catwoman can get lost, as far as I’m concerned. And Birds of Prey can get a lot better.

Where are you with the New 52? And what did you think of Batwoman’s latest issue?