Is this really an Elegy?

elegyRucka, G., Williams III, J.H. (2011). Batwoman: Elegy. Burbank: DC Comics.

By definition an Elegy is a sad poem that is written in praise of the departed. The losses described in this comic were sad. Out of the losses came strength and a new a beginning. This was a positive consequence. Hence I question, is this really an “elegy”?

This is the prequel to the New 52 Batwoman series that was released in the early 2010’s. It introduces the reader to the story of Batwoman, to a time that she was just Kate Kane. Kane wanted to make the world better and follow in the footsteps of her father. She was on a quest to use her strength to fight evil. The path she envisioned for herself however was cut short, by “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”. Her life of saving the world diverged into one not officially as a government entity, but a vigilante. Her story of emerging into the world as a vigilante of sorts is rooted in her childhood.

In the retelling of her childhood, J.H Williams does a fine job of adjusting the artwork to look less intricate to reflect her memories both good, and those with trauma. Distant memories are often less clear than recent ones, and the artwork reflects this. The artwork varies by J.H. Williams to be either intricate or colorful and dreamy when the main villain Alice, appears on the pages.

As for Alice, it is clear she is unstable and is delusional in her vision for the world. Some of her back-story is given. But, it is a little bit unclear what drove her to complete madness. I suppose maybe the trauma of her childhood? Or, perhaps the details are left vague in order to have the reader to share the perspective of Batwoman.

Is this an Elegy? The title itself defines this comic as one. It is a sad story, but also of one of hope for the future and the start of a new life. Without the pain of the past, the path forward for Batwoman would have not been the same. Personally, I am not sad that Batwoman is helping to keep the streets of Gotham safe.

Colette Molteni

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