So my month of comics devoted to the ladies continues. When I did my first of these estrogen soaked months I failed in a big way because I did not pay tribute to the ultimate female superhero - Wonder Woman. Reader I will now 'fess up I own no Wonder Woman comics. The runs I've been interested in like Gail Simone and Greg Rucka's can be hard to find. But for this month I present the next best thing, Wondy teaming up with lesbian superhero Batwoman. This is the New 52 incarnation of Batwoman, created by Greg Rucka but now written by JH Williams III and W.Haden Blackman. I make no bones about it, I am reading this series mostly for Williams's amazingly beautiful art and layouts. The writing has been average to poor at best mainly tied to the fact they have dragged the first story arc out to an incredible seventeen issues with a lot of extraneous padding along the way. Batwoman is Kate Kane by day, a socialite who is dating policewoman Maggie Sawyer who is unaware of her secret identity. Maggie is looking for some missing kids, unbeknownest to her they've been taken by an Occult organisation called Medusa. Batwoman has been blackmailed into working for the D.E.O - The Department of Extranormal Operations who have kitted her out with all sorts of nifty technology in return for her help. This volume sees Batwoman working with Wonder Woman to bring down Medusa for good and save the kids. There is also a zero issue which explores Batwoman's origins but you're better off reading Greg Rucka's single volume reboot of Batwoman that I already covered with art by JH Williams III. So lets have some World's Finest action.
We start with the narrative switching between Wonder Woman and Batwoman. Batwoman sums up the story so far by thinking that Maro the leader of Medusa has taken the kids they kidnapped through a wormhole and though she has "interrogated" a lot of Medusa agents and has all the resources of the D.E.O at her fingertips, she is no closer to finding them. Meanwhile Wonder Woman contemplates her nature and how there are many stories about her:
Wonder Woman: "But in this moment, I'm only this flashing sword, impaling an eye the colour of fallen leaves. I'm only the gleaming shield, blocking my enemy's arrows with the ring of wind chimes. I'm only this golden cord, coiled and waiting for the truth."
Batwoman has teamed up with her werewolf allies lead by Abbot, to investigate the Bloody Mary legend, because Medusa has been using urban legends to capture children and battle her. She's catalogued several variations on the legend but they all end in Bloody Mary's death and her being summoned by chanting her name in front of a mirror.
|Wonder Woman at work.|
Batwoman smashes Bloody Mary's mirror and demands to know where Maro took the children. Mary says Maro abandoned them "and fled to Medusa's lair". She says Medusa is "not a group. Medusa is the Queen of Monsters". She says she can't be stopped and Batwoman crushes the piece of mirror Mary was talking through.
Then we cut to Batwoman as Kate Kane on board a yacht with Chase and Mr. Bones of the D.E.O. Kate tells Chase Maro isn't in Gotham anymore and they are going to need some help so what about Wonder Woman, Medusa is a Greek myth after all. Mr. Bones agrees but they are going to mike her up so they can get some intel on one of the World's Finest.
|Mr. Bones, Kate and Chase.|
Back at home with Kate and Maggie, Kate says she has to go out tonight. Angrily Maggie says if Kate cared she'd stay with her tonight and not be so selfish. When Kate says she can't really tell her where she was the night before they made love the first time Maggies shows her the door saying, "don't come back until you can."
We then visit Kate Kane's father who Kate isn't speaking to right now and who is taking care of his neice Bette "Flamebird" Kate who is still recovering from being gutted by one of Medusa's minions in book one. He promised to teach her how to be a hero who is even better than Kate. She tells him "I am going to hold you to that promise."
Wonder Woman has defeated all her enemies. She washes herself in the sea thinking how she is "more than just my brilliant sword... more than my balanced shield... more than just my nimble rope... more than Amazon... more than demigod.. more than human." Then something rises out of the sea and startles her, it is Batwoman in a small sub.
|Batwoman finds Wonder Woman.|
Wonder Woman and Batwoman sit together as the sub takes them to where Medusa is supposed to be. Batwoman thinks that what she is doing is the only way she can think to help Maggie. Wonder Woman thinks about what Batwoman might think when she looks at her, "a goddess wrapped in her own nation's flag? Does she see a warrior? A hero?" She also ponders Batwoman cloaked in the colours of death and war, one of Batman's loyal soldiers.
They arrive at the prison that holds "mythology's most dangerous villains". Batwoman says it sounds like "an Amazon Arkham Asylum". Medusa is supposed to be held in the deepest cell far from the world she wants to destroy. There is no sentry on guard which doesn't bode well as the venture inside. The place is strewn with dead bodies. They venture further inside:
Wonder Woman: "Be wary. Any creature worthy of being imprisoned here has been deemed more dangerous than me."
They come across a surviving guard, a minotaur. Wonder Woman questions him and he says this is the work of "Black hearted Nyx.. Mistress of the night".
|Attacked by Nyx.|
Nyx speaks to her, saying "Medusa has brought you as my morsel" and that she is guarding the gate for her, Medusa is the "mother of all monsters." Then Batwoman interrupts, tells Wonder Woman to close her eyes and sets off a flash bomb, freeing them. Then she uses a explosive flare gun to blast open a way out through the wall. Then they escape the island by hi-jacking Black Manta's flying sub, the D.E.O might be super shady but they do have some wonderful toys.
We take a quick visit to Kate's dad and Bette meditating together. Unfortunately all she can think and brood about is what it felt like to be gutted and how much pain she is still in and how she must try and be stronger than Kate. Back with Batwoman and Wonder Woman they are in a desert looking for Medusa's other son "Pegasus" the brother of Falchion who was defeated in the last book. Wonder Woman calls Pegasus out of his lonely home and out he comes. He has festering wounds showing through to the bone in places.
|An ailing Pegasus.|
Pegasus: "Dying. For a thousand years I will die. If we live forever so too do our wounds. Mortals will have vanished from the earth before I am whole again."
She says to him that Falchion tortured him, Pegasus says his brother would call it "coercion". He has tried to recruit Pegasus to their mother's cause and Pegasus declined. Many times over.
Wonder Woman asks him why Falchion wanted his help. Pegasus says for "horror. Madness. Death. A reaping of all mortalkind. I don't know how..." Batwoman says does he know where this will happen. Pegasus says yes, and he will tell them for a price. Wonder Woman must take his head, "give me a warrior's death." This shocks Batwoman and Wonder Woman tells him humans have no faith in him now he will not be brought back. "I do not care" he says sadly. So Wonder Woman, over Batwoman's protests, agrees.
Pegasus then tells them it's a "city where shadows are deepest and evil is born". Batwoman realises what that means, "Gotham". Then Wonder Woman cuts off Pegasus's head. She asks if Batwoman thinks she committed murder. Batwoman doesn't know and asks if he can come back like Bloody Mary and The Weeping Woman. "Maybe" says Wonder Woman. "Then I choose to believe" says Batwoman as she immolates Pegasus's corpse.
Then Batwoman expresses her irritation that she dragged Wonder Woman halfway around the globe when Medusa was in Gotham the whole time. Wonder Woman says Medusa is a powerful witch who has kept herself concealed for centuries, "but she will come out of hiding to complete her dark ritual." Batwoman asks if Wonder Woman wants to come with her, "or do I smash this bitch in the teeth all by myself?" Wonder Woman will come.
|Medusa in Gotham.|
Medusa: "Long have I sat in darkness sharpening this dream like a blade...My dream is a blade to carve out the heart of this city, bleed its lambs into goblets of gold. A blade to hack off our enemies heads to make the world safe for all my kind".
As she and her minions fight the Gotham PD she thinks about how Falchion failed her, but did at least raise this army for her. They are the ones who scoured the world and freed her. Falchion also found Maro who created her supernatural army. So s/he wasn't totally useless then.
Medusa then tells Killer Croc he can become more powerful, Maro using a blood ritual causes Killer Croc to mutate massively becoming a hydra like creature, "the beast of Babylon" says Medusa. Backed into a corner by Medusa, things look bad for Maggie and Harvey then suddenly down swoop Batwoman and Wonder Woman to the rescue.
Everything is confusing out on the streets, "why is a Chinese gangster speaking in ancient Greek?" She demands to know who "Mother" is from someone she has a hold of. "She is the end of Gotham. The end of your world" she is told. "Zealots in my city" she thinks. She bumps into Agent Chase of the D.E.O and wants to know why they aren't helping the GCPD on the front lines. Chase says that is not her orders.
Chase tells her to have the GCPD fall back and the D.E.O will cover them. Maggie doesn't trust her. She and Harvey head towards a church where she has been told some people are preparing to become matryrs. It's a Catholic church and inside are the mainly hispanic parents of the missing children. They have heard "that these monsters have our children. Then have our children on chains."
|Maggie defuses the mob.|
Maggie: "I'm trying to save your kids. But if you get killed, what will happen to them? Where will they go? Who will take care of them? Foster homes? The street? The church".
She then disarms the shotgun wielder. But Isabella starts to freak out, her husband Felipe went out there alone looking for their children. So Maggie goes back out to find and save him.
He is outside shooting down Medusa minions until he runs out of bullets. Maggie and Harvey find him, but then water coutesy of the Weeping Woman sweeps over them. Felipe kneels before her and when she tells him she will "free" the whole place he forgives her and she fades. Maggie comes over and comforts the distraught man and when he says of his kids "I miss the so much" she hugs him. And she worries maybe she'll never be able to bring them home.
|Maggie comforts Felipe.|
JH Williams III is back on art for the rest of the book now. Batwoman drops down to where Maggie is in the middle of all the chaos. But Maggie yells at Batwoman to forget about her an Harvey and take out what Killer Croc has turned into before it destroys the city. She starts to fight her way to it, horrified that it is breaking her "building... my base.. home... everything". Wonder Woman meanwhile is also fighting and feeling oddly responsible for Medusa, and now her senses are "dulled by shame, guilt, rage".
As Batwoman head towards the Hydra, Wonder Woman stops her saying she is not capable of taking it on. Batwoman says she's lost her home, her pictures of her sister, her mother's journals... she tails off. Wonder Woman promises to kill the Hydra, but Batwoman needs to concentrate on getting back the children.
Medusa is waiting for Ceto, the mother of all monsters to appear from the sea. She will rise, devour all mortals and make a world safe for the monsters. Then Mr. Bones appears pointing a gun at her. Medusa says he should be an ally what with him being a skeleton and all. She tries to uses her petrifying eyes on him but fails.
|Flamebird back in action.|
Medusa stands at the sea's edge with the children and Maro. The children ask if they are going to be killed. Medusa says Ceto needs "your souls to bind her to this world". Right now Ceto is a "dream. A ghost. A myth" says Maro, but once she was feared throughout the world.
We then get a quick history lesson on her. She became Goddess of the Oceans, she fell in love with Phorcys, Mystery of the Deep. Many wonders were born from their union. Those wonders brought awe and adventure to the world. "We gave their frail lives meaning". They were killed by mortals who wanted to prove they had mastery over all the primordial forces putting them and their followers to the torch and spear. Ceto was brought to Mt. Olympus and judged. "Zeus claimed there was no room for both mortals and monsters on Earth". He banished her, stripped her of her beauty and power reduced to the one cruel epithet, "The Mother of all Monsters". So that's what she will be "and the mortal world the gods love will suffer for it".
Batwoman is fighting her way to Medusa and fighting the urge to go back to Maggie. Also Abbot and his werewolf coven are also helping her despite how mean she usually has been to him in prior volumes. Wonder Woman is taking on the hydra. She discovers that whipping her sword fast enough makes it hot enought to cauterise the neck and stop another head growing.
|Wonder Woman takes on the Hydra.|
Batwoman can't process what she sees next, "it's a tear in the fabric of reality. As if it's something we can just stitch up". A huge squirming, many tentacled thing has appeared. She realises there are somethings you can never unsee and never fix. Wonder Woman jumps down saying "please tell me you know what the hell this is, Batwoman". Batwoman can only tell her Medusa and Maro performed a ritual and summoned the Mother of all Monsters.
|The Mother of All Monsters is summoned.|
Maro makes it to shore, but her twin who inhabited the same body is dead now. On land an almight ruckus is taking place. Batwoman, Wonder Woman and the werewolves versus Medusa's minions. Abott gets turned to stone by Medusa and as she kneels by him, Flamebird appears and helps her up. They quickly formulate a plan, they shatter Bloody Mary and use a piece of her mirror to reflect Medusa's glare back on her and she turns to stone. Batwoman then smashes the statue for good measure.
Flamebird points out the D.E.O is about to arrive so she makes herself scarce telling Batwoman her new name is "Hawkfire". Wonder Woman says she too has no wish to meet the D.E.O. Before she leaves Batwoman gives her the recordings she's made of her the past few days. Wonder Woman crushes them and says, "if you ever need me again, just ask."
Chase catches up with them and is pissed about the loss of intel on Wonder Woman. She then takes the children to a park close by where Maggie is moodily sitting on a swing. When she realises Batwoman has bought them all back and has called her "Mags" she realises who she really is:
Batwoman: "Marry me Mags".
The book then ends with Mr Bones interviewing Alice, the crazed supervillain sister of Batwoman and he says "oh I know who you are. You have our sister's eyes."
|And that was the end of the series and they both lived in marital bliss and lalalalala can't hear you DC editorial!|
Once again it's the art that sells me this series, with stunning layouts and gorgeous renditions of everything from eldritch abominations to caped crimefighters. His depiction of Wonder Woman is superb, she fit and athletic looking rather than skinny and top heavy. She looks like a woman who gets shit done as does the bustier fetish clad Kate Kane. But I keep circulating round to my major problems with the series so far, this arc went on far too long, the dialogue is often stilted and unnatural which suits the narration of the mythological aspects of the story but not the voices of the characters. Also the happy ending is somewhat soured by knowledge of what happened next which was DC vetoing the marriage. In their sort of defence I don't think that was homophobia at work, DC simply didn't want any of their New 52 characters to be happy. Seriously, that was an editorial edict. This then resulted in Blackman and Williams III quitting the title and DC spiking their final issues. I haven't read any further Batwoman after this one mainly for those reasons, while the series had flaws it had potential and this just felt like the straw that broke the camels back regarding DC's overbearing editorial attitudes during this period. Still, curiosity might compel me to check out the next volumes and If I do I'll cover it here.