“Fear and Loathing” Part 3
Writer: Marguerite Bennett
Artist: Fernando Blanco
Colorist: John Rauch
Letterer: Deron Bennett
WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
DOWN, DOWN INTO WONDERLAND!
Batwoman’s mental fortitude is put through the ringer in this week’s issue! Holy Bat Visuals!
Batwoman #9 has some of the craziest, nightmarish visuals I’ve ever witnessed. Seriously, I haven’t seen psychedelic visuals like this since playing the Scarecrow segment in Batman: Arkham Asylum. Although to be honest, when you have Scarecrow as the main antagonist and the arc’s name is “Fear and Loathing,” it’s clear I was in store for some absurd visuals.
Batwoman and fellow soldier, Colony Prime, are trapped within a horrific psychedelic landscape fabricated by Dr. Jonathan Crane, a.k.a Scarecrow. Now the pair must work together in order to escape from this visceral mind prison. Crane himself has concocted a newer, enhanced version of his potent fear toxin; a toxin he’s been creating for The Many Arms of Death.
I won’t dwell too much on the story as it’s fairly straightforward. Essentially this issue explores the mind of Kate Kane/Batwoman, literally. Throughout the comic, Scarecrow repeatedly bombards Batwoman with some gruesome imagery:
A giant demonic Scarecrow. A skeleton in a mirror. Her father’s severed head.
He goes even further by prodding into Batwoman’s past via infiltrating her memories. The comic would then feature her past as panel snippets. It was interesting for a relative Batwoman newcomer like myself to learn more about past, besides her time on Coryana. I really appreciated Marguerite Bennett for also not overloading the panels with exposition. Batwoman #9 felt like a personal character study and this what drew me to the series in the first place. The emphasis on character.
THAT GROOVY ARTSTYLE!
Okay, time to talk about the true winners of Batwoman #9, the weird, psychedelic art style. Issue #9 contains some of the most imaginative drawings by Fernando Blanco yet! He did a brilliant job of crafting the eery, wondrous landscape of Wonderland. From the flamingos with faucets for heads. To the plants sprouting playing cards like flowers. The cover art alone (also drawn by Fernando Blanco) encapsulates issue #9’s otherworldly atmosphere perfectly. But the comic’s absolute best moment that showcases Fernando Blanco and colorist John Rauch’s superb talents; is the moment when Batwoman transforms into a literal giant bat!
Rest assured that moment frightened me. Bat…Batwoman’s giant glowing red eyes. Her menacing sharp teeth and just the sheer terror emulating from her snarling face definitely evoked fear even in Scarecrow. The design of Bat-Batwoman blew me away. It had a balanced mixture of Bat-Batwoman’s transformed bat state, while still retaining her signature red and black costume.
Marguerite Bennett’s writing is still excellent and I applaud her writing the series solo now. The amount of visual storytelling was palpable throughout the comic. Batwoman’s transformation into a giant bat was a turning point in her character. The visual storytelling coincided spectacularly with the very visual heavy comic.
A worthy foe, deep character study and wondrous, psychedelic artwork made Batwoman #9 a great read and an exciting prelude to what will follow next.
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Image Courtesy of DC Entertainment