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Subj: Batgirl #24
Posted: Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 11:07:49 pm EDT (Viewed 16 times)
So it ends. We have the last issue of Steph/Batgirl. It feels rushed because it was rushed. The arc was supposed to last a lot longer than it did, but DC's brillant idea to reboot the universe and bring back Babs as Batgirl in the hope of attracting the mythical unicorn that is the new comics reader killed the book.
This is unfortunate for a couple of reasons. One, Batgirl/Steph had an audience. Sales were stabilizing. Granted an average of 25,000 a month is on the low side, but a lot of their bat efforts and attempts to have yet another Green Arrow book failed.
Second, getting rid of a book that people like to bring back Babs just won't work. Batgirl is a charming book. It's fun, yet all I've read about Gail Simone's run indicates she's going dark and bad-ass. I just don't see that working. But since the book actually hasn't come out, this is all speculation and I COULD BE WRONG. So why don't I wait and see.
Back to the book. Steph confronts her dad. He explains the government gave him a new identity for his Suicide Squad work and he came back to Gotham for revenge on Steph's War Games death. This is the first time I root for the villain. But the government decided to ship villains to another planet (like that ever works, just ask the Hulk) and the place to hide is in prison. Since Brown is now prisoner Black, no one knows he's back in town.
The whole Reapers thing was his weird-dad way to get Steph's attention. She says he's nuts and Dad reveals a Black Mercy plant he's, not weaponized but drug-ized, he blows some mercy dust at Steph and before she goes into the mercy coma, she throws a bat-a-rang at Dad. His arm is on the wall, he says she missed, but just as the clown in Batman Returns learned, missed is a relative turn. The Rang explodes goo that glues Cluemaster's arm to the wall.
Steph wakes up in the hospital, wearing a purple undergarment that looks like longjohns under her batgirl armor. She's still wearing her mask. At her bed is her mom. They dance around her secret identity, with mom explaining she unilaterly instigated a no-unmask-heroes policy. Mom lets on that she's proud of her daughter who is definately not Batgirl. Also Batgirl got a blood transfusion.
As Batgirl/Steph exits her hospital room she's hugged by the little kids, including the black girl whose name escapes me and has been seen as a cheerleader throughout the book. Through the window we see Damien/Robin saluting Steph.
Next scene is on a roof. Barb explains that Steph shook off the mercy dust before she got the blood transfusion. Barb asks Steph what she dreamed of. Steph says Stuff and we see a bunch of one-page spreads showing Batgirl as Batgirl with Damien in the foreground and a background that resembles stained glass consisting of herself, Barb and Wendy. The next page is medeval with Steph and female teen heroes fighting trolls and dragons. That's followed by a scene from Darkest Night. Steph is a Blue Lantern (hope), Damien a Red Lantern (rage) and Barb is a Green Lantern (will and courage).
The next page is a black and white photo dated 1944 and is filled with Black Hawks along with Steph and Cass. The next page is Steph graduating from college with the Royal Flush gang attacking. The next two pages are a set. In page one Steph is a mother with short hair. Her son is plaing on his bed while the Batsignal lights up the sky. The next page is short-haired Steph dressed as Purple Wing along with another Batgirl wearing a suit similar to Steph's Batgirl outfit, but with a slightly different color scheme and the scene screams Batman Beyond-ish. This Batgirl has a dark complexion and dark curly hair (Cass? Cass's daughter?)
Cut back to the roof with Babs. They comment on the purple sunrise, with Steph telling Babs it's not pollution but serendipity. Steph says she's happy and this moment belongs to her.
What I didn't like. The rushed reunion with Cluemaster dad. I suspect the original plot would have played it out more.
What I liked. The resolution of Steph fighting off the mercy dust before she gets the transfusion. Also the call back to Steph thinking back to her first mission as Batgirl and being exposed to the Scarecrow's fear dust. This time we see her hopes instead of her fears.
Steph's dreams, and more importantly Miller's showing us these dreams, constitute clever and good writing. All the dreams show us something smart. That Steph's hopes include friends. She's not some lone, bitter Bruce-batman driving people away with Bat-dickery. She's got friends and family. I didn't see a dad with her son, but in my mind it's Tim.
Damien is in the picture. I think Steph is the only member of the bat family who actually likes the little punk. The shots with Damien show her maternal side and that's important. Steph gave a baby up for adoption. This is a nice subtle call back to that plot point which has never been mentioned in Batgirl, but is a part of her history.
Steph is a vibrant character. This book is fun and charming. Steph fought criminals, there was danger, but there wasn't a psycho-killer who mutilates people for the joy of hearing them scream and has no discernable, normal motive for a crime. (Normal being reasons real criminals in the real world operate).
This book is fun to read. DC, that's not a crime, it's actually a good idea. Having a bright, vibrant character that's a good person and fights the good fight despite her issues and flaws, is a good thing. (See Captain America movie vs. Green Lantern movie box office).
I heard a podcast in which people that I can't remember said they talked with DC people who said the sky's the limit. Dare to be as "adult" and daring as possible. Go dark. Well guess what DC, you've been doing that for five or six years. War Games didn't work. The Crisis, with the killing of the Dibneys, and rape, didn't work. Destroying Arsenal, killing Lian and making Ollie a killer didn't work. Your sales have tanked, readers have been alienated, critics have eaten you for lunch. Get a clue for Christmas. Try clever, smart, fun and heroic. It's just so crazy it might work.
I hope Steph comes back. She doesn't have to be Batgirl. Spoiler is a fine character, so returning Steph to Spoiler works for me. I wish them luck with Babs as Batgirl. I don't see it working, but I urge everyone who is interested or curious to pick up the book, but I will never believe that getting rid of Steph as Batgirl is nothing but a huge mistake. But if Babs/batgirl is selling 30,000 or 35,000 a month, I'll have proved wrong. In the end, sales count. This is a business.
But bring Back Steph. I suggest some sort of femme fatale team with Steph, Cass, Kara and one other, you pick the one. Fun is not a crime in a comic book.
Or I could be wrong.
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