Following hot on the heels of the 2010 epic ‘Batwoman: Elegy’ comes another majestic masterpiece in modern comic-book storytelling by talented artist/writer JH Williams III, through his fabulous follow up ‘Hydrology’. Williams was almost single-handedly responsible for plucking the long forlorned female Superhero Batwoman out of an imposed limbo with his successful run on her modern reintegration back into the DC Universe.
Williams managed magnificently to breathe new life into a character who had rarely been seen since the 1960’s, captivating the dedicated comic book fan with a newly resurrected member of the Bat-family, who, even though she shares many similar traits with her male counterpart, does indeed still feel a unique and fresh character, this is all thanks to Williams’ almost incomparable talent.
Hydrology collects together issues #0-5 of Kate’s ‘New 52’ run. JH Williams once again stuns us into near silence with his breathtaking artwork, the panel layouts are, as always, astounding, Williams loves to experiment with visually impressive splash pages, these stylistic image choices immerse the reader even further into the tale, with Batwoman effortlessly leaping from the panels themselves, with the beautifully rendered colours also assisting to achieve this overall impressive visual effect.
This tantalising tale finds our curious crimefighter investigating a disturbing case involving the mass disappearance of children across Gotham, which ultimately leads her to the supernatural entity known as La Llarona (The Weeping Woman). Throughout this harrowing investigation, Kate also finds time to re-train her cousin Bette in crime-fighting techniques, with the notion that the one time Superhero (Bette was once known as Flamebird, member of Teen Titans West) could eventually become a valuable aid in her unwavering war on crime.
The poignant parable also finds Kate dealing with dramatic social matters outside of her red and black clad vigilante persona. Her ongoing tangled love life with Detective Sawyer, recent estrangement from her father and unremitting feelings of loss from the tragic events surrounding her twin sister (read Batwoman: Elegy for the full story, fact fans). And just to make life even more complicated for our fiery haired heroine, she is the subject of an intense investigation by Agent Chase of the Department Of Extranormal Investigations, who has vowed to unmask her.
Williams constructs a striking, emotionally compelling and haunting tale that contrasts beautifully between a hardened and capable crimefighter and an emotionally confused young woman, with the visual style juxtaposing between a beautifully bold and effervescent painterly style when Kate becomes the Batwoman, and a simpler rather less embellished (yet no less gorgeous) technique when she is merely Kate Kane. This artistic approach speaks volumes about Kate’s feeling of worth in and out of the Bat suit, the vivid and bright colours during the Batwoman sequences really does emphasise her love of the freedom and anonymity that her alter ego allows her to have, giving her a sense of merit and standing in the world, plus helping to masque and cast aside her real life trauma.
JH Williams III once again shows why he is one of the most sought after artist/writers in the comic book medium. His visual style is almost unmatched, his writing is in equal measures intelligent, haunting and enthralling, realising characters that are both credible yet also otherworldly in their existence. Hypnotic, lavish and addictive, a must buy for fans and newcomers alike.