27 July, 2010

Women in Comics: Getting It Right - Batwoman: Elegy

I have spoken before about how comic-art is often sexified, as in "The Pose".
I have spoken before about the horrible treatment of women in the X-Men films.

But today I want to do something different. Today I want to talk about women in comics done powerful, done interesting, and most importantly done well!

I was once again sucked into DC world when Quality Keith recommended Batwoman: Elegy1 to me. After reading through the first few pages I couldn't resist and bought the hardcover.

Let me start with the art.

The artist for this comic is J H Williams III, the same artist for the Promethea series. Already he gets a plus in my books.
Aside from some really beautiful backgrounds and surrealist covers, one of the things I immediately noticed was that Batwoman wasn't sexualised! Yes, there are a couple of shots where you get some nipple-suit action a la Batman and Robin, but she is clearly not drawn for sexual appeal. Yes she is sexy, but that's not Herr reason for being there.

Her proportions are well done. Her outfit is practical. Her action shots, and there are quite a few, are not artistically designed to give the best view of her arse without any practical benefits. She actually kicks arse and is shown kicking arse! You would not believe how happy this makes me!
J H Williams III, you get two big thumbs up from me!

Now onto the plot. I'll try not to reveal anything for those who haven't read it yet.

Batwoman: Elegy is written by Greg Rucka. I hadn't actually heard of him before picking up this book, but now I'm gonna start searching. This book is well structured, well placed, and just fucking fantastic. I was hooked from the second I picked it up. After reading a few comics where I felt "Good, but meh" this was a welcome change.

Batwoman, Kate Kane, is the star of this show. She is saved once by a man, but this is not because he is stronger than her or because she is inherently weak. She is a very well fleshed out character. Her motivations make sense, she is deeply layered, she isn't just a cardboard cutout out there to please the men.

Oh, and she's a lesbian.

The villain of this story is also a woman. A strong woman who is in charge of a group. She has a frightening presence that gave me chills.
And seriously, seeing two well-fleshed, well done women kicking arse was such a delight.

If you haven't already, get your hands on a copy of Batwoman: Elegy. If this review doesn't convince you, then the introduction written by Rachel Maddow might nudge you in the right direction ;-)

I know I'm generally a Marvel woman, but I will venture to DC again and again and again if I can get more of this :D

1. My spellcheck recognises Batman but not Batwoman. #patriarchywhatpatriatchy

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