Batwoman #12 shows the end of Kate Kane’s “Lost Year” on Coryana and answers a ton of lingering questions that have carried through the series thus far. Are the answers the issue provides satisfying?
They absolutely are. Writer Marguerite Bennett scripted an issue dripping with drama and revelation that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. As she has done throughout the series, Bennett portrays Kate’s relationship with Coryana’s Mother of Warlords, Safiyah with an expert blend of romance and tension. By now the reader knows beyond a doubt Safiyah was being built as an antagonist throughout the series, but Bennett always wrote her relationship with Kate in a way that felt realistic and understandable. Even though I knew Kate and Safiyah’s methods and motivations would eventually conflict, I found myself rooting for them to stay together somehow and that feeling persists throughout this issue. The revelations made throughout the issue finally explain exactly what drives Kate, Safiyah, and Safiyah’s bodyguard/admirer Tahani to make the choices they have throughout the series. The pacing of the issue allowed a steady build up to the big twist, spacing out the tension in a way that made the characters’ motivations feel realistic as opposed to a sudden heel-face turn. After reading this issue, I am fully convinced by Safiyah’s position as an antagonist, yet saddened because of how much I care about the potential her and Kate had in a relationship.
Scott Godlewski’s artwork is solid throughout, especially when it comes to drawing backgrounds. Coryana’s foliage looks lush and an office setting looks rich with detail without the pages being overcrowded with lines. This is achieved thanks to the detailed and varied inking techniques Godlewski employs, adding textures to a rug which differs from a curtain which also differs from the grass outside. His inking fleshes out the pages while helping elevate tension in darker, dramatic scenes. His rendering of clouds and smoke is particularly effective. Though both are gaseous elements, they look distinctly different because of the varying inking techniques. Some faces appeared less detailed than others depending on the panel and how far away the person was but faces in close-ups or large splashes were consistent and expressive.
John Rauch’s colors only elevate the artwork to fully realize each page’s potential. Rauch distributes the lighting of certain scenes expertly so that even though there is lightning flashing behind a lighthouse, they realistically glow at their own intensities. The issue opens at twilight which Rauch colors in warm pinks and greens that cool into chilly blues as the night progresses. There were a few panels where the coloring got a bit flat on certain elements, but Rauch’s work in light and shadow excels, especially on the close-up shots of faces mentioned before.
Batwoman #12 is one of my favorite issues of the series thus far. The artwork’s adept use of light and shadow pair splendidly with Bennett’s script which explores the murky grey areas of Kate and Safiyah’s relationship. The issue propels the series into the next chapter where we’ll hopefully see their long-awaited confrontation.