Batwoman: Elegy is a comic giving us the origin and backstory of Batwoman. This is before the whole New 52 thing so I don’t know how much has changed since. Greg Rucka writes the story and it’s fine, but not excellent like his Gotham Central stuff was. J.H. Williams III used a bunch of interesting page layouts throughout the book that made the fights seem less by-the-numbers but a little more difficult to follow, as the tradeoff usually goes.
The story is about a cult of crime that had already tried to kill Batwoman and now they’ve got a new leader. Batwoman fights her and we learn about her background. She and Renee Montoya had a past relationship (neither of them in costume). She’s got a good backstory and reason to be a crimefighter, and the dynamic with her father who helps her is pretty good too. It was all pretty good superhero stuff, nothing spectacular.
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Sleeper is an excellent dark story about a super-powered secret agent who was sent to infiltrate a criminal organization as a deep-cover agent. When the book begins the only man who knows who Holden Carver really is is in a coma, and he’s getting in over his head in the organization.
There was a lot of awesomeness to love about this book. Holden Carver’s superpower is that he doesn’t feel pain and hals really quickly, but he can also transfer injuries that were inflicted on him to other people. So he gets shot, doesn’t feel the pain, touches you so you’ve been shot to the equivalent degree, and then he heals up while you don’t. He does a number of assassination jobs in service of the bad guys, but then he did bad things when he was a government agent too.
The book is set in the WildStorm universe, so there are a couple of references to The Authority, and the existence of posthumans is very well-established. One of the neat recurring bits is playing “origin stories” when they’re doing the boring parts of the job. It’s just one of those things that seems so right in a noirish crime book in a superheroic universe. (Ed Brubaker also worked on Gotham Central, another bunch of great noir stories in a superhero world.)
I picked up Newuniversal: Everything Went White because it’s written by Warren Ellis. It’s a different 2006 and a celestial event happens on Earth and at least a couple of superhumans are discovered. Government plans to neutralize these creatures are started up before they can find each other, because if superhumans meet then they will out compete humanity. They’re seen as an evolutionary threat. It’s the kind of issues that the X-Men as mutants sort of embody in a much gentler form.
What I wasn’t too big a fan of was the mythology behind these superheroic roles these characters have. They don’t quite understand them and because this is just the first volume it doesn’t need to be explained. I think I prefer these kinds of stories about new superheroes in a more self-contained format, like that DV8 book I recently read, or Warren Ellis’ Black Summer.