J.H. Williams III's ethereal illustrations in Detective Comics made Batwoman a critical darling. And this month, crime-fighter Kate Kane returned in her new ongoing comic. io9 recently chatted with Williams and series co-author W. Haden Blackman about the beyond-the-grave unpleasantry awaiting the heroine.
What kind of stories are you prepping up for the first arc of Batwoman?
J.H. Williams III: We're establishing a new direction for Batwoman while spinning off the Detective Comics run of the character. Another goal is to establish a rogues gallery. When we begin, she really only has the Religion of Crime and her twin sister Alice. If you're going to create a legacy for a character, you need a wide cast and to propagate some really great villains in recurring roles as well.
W. Haden Blackman: In addition to the supporting cast, we'll be introducing a love life for Kate. We're trying to establish that Batwoman operates in more of a supernatural portion of Gotham. Her opponents and some of the storylines have a supernatural bent to them, which in my mind makes them feel very different than the other Bat-stories. We're combining horror with romance with vigilante action, but there's also that strong supernatural angle as well.
JHW: In most cases when you see supernatural elements in a superhero comic, the hero has some sort of supernatural powers. What makes this exciting for us is that Kate Kane doesn't have superpowers, but must face off against something that's beyond human. Ordinary fisticuffs might not apply, so she'll have to use her brain in more interesting ways.
Speaking of the supporting cast, Kate Kane's old flame Renee Montoya is conspicuously absent. Can you tease anything about where she is?
JHW: At the time we started developing these plot lines, Montoya was off being The Question. When we began, we knew she was off doing her own thing. As far as we know, that still stands, we don't really know what's up with the character. We don't have any immediate plans for Renee.
WHB: It was a conscious decision on our part because we felt like that relationship has really run its course.
Batwoman has been in the works for a while and was tabled to join the New 52 relaunch. Were there any plots that were suddenly unavailable to use?
JHW: Not really. We had to make some [minor] art and dialogue changes. But for the most part, DC was willing to let what we were doing be rolled into the overall universe.
J.H., you're one of the co-creators of the Department of Extranormal Operations, the government agency that monitors DC's superhumans. The DEO appears in the first issue of Batwoman — why bring them into the mix?
JHW: For me, it's unfinished business with those characters. But it felt like the right choice to infuse something new into Batwoman's world that was apart from the book's spookier elements. It's a way to introduce new ideas that develop into future arcs and to toy with the expectations of what Batwoman is about.
J.H. gave Kate Kane's civilian persona a very rockabilly sensibility. Are there any other superheroes who are deserving of a similar makeover?
JHW: [Laughs] I have no idea! Haven't really thought about. I really don't try to think about such and such character like, "Yeah, he's going rockabilly" or whatever. It's more about what the character speaks to me than about me speaking to them.
The second issue of Batwoman hits stands October 12. We were terrifically fond of the first one.