Review by Ian Keogh
Webs concluded with a significant shock for Batwoman, and as that has a resonance throughout this book, it’s best concealed. Instead of following on immediately, however, we open with a story synopsising Batwoman’s career to date, drawn in perfunctory manner by Jeremy Haun.
He’s better, though, than Georges Jeanty, who also commits the cardinal sin of exploitation. Yes, it’s been established that Kathy Kane is lesbian, but to date this has been illustratively handled in a fashion avoiding titillation (broadly, at least). Jeanty is either not on message or editorial instructions have altered as his opening work features several illustrations that appear morphed from softcore video. Otherwise Jeanty is okay without raising the pulse. Juan José Ryp is a better and more detailed artist, but equally prone to exploitative lapses.
After the career run-through Marc Andreyko jumps to the future. We have a chapter of Batwoman and some demonic allies fighting the sorceress Morgaine LeFey in space. The immediate question is “why?” Aren’t there a couple of dozen of superheroes more suited to that type of story without removing Batwoman from her milieu and everything that renders her unique? The following chapters display how this ragtag team was gathered, sidelining all but the broadest strokes of characterisation. For a series where this has been so strong throughout, it’s a further disappointment. Not quite as disappointing, however, as a ham-fisted revelation concerning a relationship. As this has been running since the start of the book it opens the door to all kinds of unsavoury (and illegal) acts, yet seemingly breezed through any editorial control.
Even accepting the Morgaine LeFey plot as an advisable direction (and Batwoman has dealt with supernatural/mystical menaces previously), there are several plot holes and conveniences. The availability of a spacecraft for one. The tale is concluded in what was originally a Batwoman annual, which is very ordinary. Yishan Li, Roberto Viacava, and Ronan Cliquet each handle several pages of art, none of them very distinguished.
We end with a chapter set five years in the future and superbly set-up when presented in the original comic schedule. Relegating it to the back of the book when it’s seemingly negated by the previous content (although the circumstances could recur in the intervening period) just reduces what was a horrific and chilling flash forward to a puzzle.
The Unknowns is a very sorry end for what was a bold and bravura series featuring exceptional art.