Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Batgirl #7 review

Batgirl battles new reprobate Grotesque, whose unique selling point is that he likes the finer things in life. Except shoes ... he's a barefoot bad guy. The devil-masked foe's not exactly dripping with charisma but as filler villains go, he's entertaining enough.

The real reason to buy this issue is a sizeable scene in which Batgirl visits old pal Black Canary to release pent-up frustrations, physically and conversationally. And suddenly, it's like Flashpoint never happened; here's the Barbara and Dinah I know, two fighting females whose firm, feisty friendship makes them stronger (click on image to enlarge).
Best of all, Dinah advises Barbara to pack in the whining about being able to walk once again - her regained mobility is a gift and she should enjoy it, like any sane person would. And so it is that for the rest of the story, Barbara is chirpier, better at being Batgirl. Until the final page, when it's two steps back. I won't spoil the scene, I'm too busy banging my head off the desk.

Happily, there is other good stuff - the returned Barbara Gordon Sr finally visits Commissioner Gordon, having not spoken to him since she walked out a decade previously. We see a surprisingly vulnerable Jim Gordon, and learn something of why, in his wife's eyes, she had to leave.

Regular artist Ardian Syaf draws two-thirds of the issue, with Alitha Martinez handling the central section focusing on Dinah and Big Babs. Talented inker Vicente Cifuentes maintains continuity and everything looks great. The conflict and character scenes are equally strong, no matter who's drawing, but Martinez gets extra points for not presenting the elder Gordon as Barbara's twin.

With luck, this is the storyline in which writer Gail Simone puts Barbara's survivor's/walker's guilt to bed, at least for a good while. Because this could be a great comic, it just needs to stop hobbling itself by dwelling on the past. I was against Barbara walking again, dropping her Oracle role, but the decision was made - if we're not going to embrace the new possibilities, why bother?

And those new possibilities include regular team-ups alongside Black Canary, because they truly bring out the best in one another. DC is retooling the old World's Finest title, which for decades teamed Superman and Batman, as Worlds' Finest, starring Power Girl and Huntress. What I'd like to see is DC cancelling both this book, and the disappointing Birds of Prey, and giving us The Brave and The Bold, starring Batgirl and Black Canary. Written by Gail Simone and pencilled by either of this issue's lead artists, it's a surefire winner. Anyone else?

20 comments:

  1. No. I want Birds of Prey to stay! It's finally picking up and becoming awesome.

    I wasn't able to pick up this month's issue. My comic book store had my order in, but it wasn't in the box with the rest of their shipments. Very annoying, but at least I got Saucer Country and Batwoman, which was really awesome this month.

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  2. I'm curious, Mart, what is it about "Birds of Prey" that disappoints you? I'm sticking with it for the clean, colorful Jesus Saiz artwork, but the current storyline could have been told in three issues. There's page after page of wordless martial-arts acrobatics, which makes reading it a five-minute breeze. I'll probably drop it once the inevitable mega-Batman crossover "event" takes over. I, too, would love to see a Batgirl and Black Canary team-up book on a monthly basis.

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    1. The story that never ends, the casual killing by supposed heroes ... even the Jesus Saiz art has its problems, as Friend of the Blog Colin pointed out over at Too Busy Thinking About My Comics:

      http://toobusythinkingboutcomics.blogspot.com/2012/01/on-birds-of-prey-5.html

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    2. I can't think of a blog I'd rather be considered a Friend of than the splendid Too Dangerous For A Girl.

      I'm looking forward to Batgirl turning up in the post later this week. Fingers crossed. It's a book I want to adore rather than respect, but so far respect is all I'm feeling.

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    3. Well, I think you'll at least enjoy it more than a Brian Bendis Avengers ...

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  3. I've been really loving Birds of Prey despite myself, but I'll check out Colin's write-up when I have a few minutes.

    As for Batgirl, this is the first issue I didn't buy. I might go back and pick it up digitally when it's cheaper, or I might not. (More than anything, I'm curious about the Killing Joke aftermath.) I think there's something about the character "Batgirl" -- whoever's in the suit -- that inspires no strong feelings in me. I might be tempted to a read a good Batgirl story now and then, but I just don't have enough interest to be a regular Batgirl reader. Even when it's as well-written as Simone's issues have been, they don't have me hollering for more.

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    1. I'll yell if this book becomes unmissable, just tell me how BoP is getting on without me!

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  4. I really rather like Birds Of Prey, actually....its this book that annoys me. Its main problem is Simone writing Babs as if shes a teenager writing in her diary [ Im talking about her inner monologue ]. It just absolutely gets on my nerves, Babs is a grown woman for Hera's sakes.
    On the plus side, her new Rogues Gallery has been quite superb so far; interesting villains with unique motivations and a fresh take. And the art is absorbing to look at. This issues highlight was of course the guest app of Black Canary; do we know if their previous BoP relationship still is in canon? I love their female friendship, so very unforced and natural. If Batgirl ever gets cancelled [and unless it finds its feet, it will], I wouldnt mind the Dominoed Daredoll crossing over to Dinah's team in her book

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    1. A grown woman, yes, but less so than she used to be, which is a shame. I'd be very happy we're we to lose the first person narration, as it's such an awkward device in a comic book.

      I'd say the villains haven't been the best aspect of this comic - the Mirror was awfully contrived in the way he reflected aspects of Babs' situation. There was a similar thing going on with Gretel, who annoyed me further with the randomness of the name, hair and number business. As for Grotesque, I guess we'll see; so far I'm thinking low-rent Black Mask, but given Gail's record with the Secret Six, I'm not writing him off.

      (Apologies for the mis-punctuation in the first paragraph, here ... Stoopid Auto-'Correct'. And Blogger won't let me go back via cursor placement, I'd have to retype everything after it.)

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  5. I don't care what form it's in - Brave And The Bold needs to come back. Black Canary and Batgirl would be perfect.

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    1. With luck, Dan, DC are hanging on our every word!

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  6. I like Black Canary and Birds of Prey well enough, but I don't care much for how they have all become the "bad-a$$" girls that dominate comics today. I actually think Batgirl's hesitancy and doubts, along with her basic kindness and decentness, are what sets Batgirl apart and makes her distinct from these Sin-city ninja-girl clones in comics today. I liked this issue, though I'd like to see this bad guy fleshed out a great deal more.

    I would echo the call for Brave and the Bold to come back, ideally in the format they just sacked (the number of kid-friendly comics that adults can enjoy is sure small right now).

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    1. Certainly the Sholly/Rick/Dan B&B would be my version of choice.

      And I so agree about the way heroines are being treated by DC at the moment. Bah, I say!

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    2. Say what you will about DC using their heroines, at least they are having their heroines have their own title. What about Marvel's girls? Any titles from them? No and that's a darn shame, I would to read a comic with She-Hulk (Not that Defenders crap from Dec.) or Dazzler.

      Finally read this darn thing. This was a giant step forward from the last issue with artwork that looks very similiar but is much better (As such, Alitha Martinez is in and Adrian Syaf is out). As for the final page, I'm not sure how it is two steps backwards. She has a flashback when she recongizes the guy. She doesn't get mopey or similiar, she is just rather surprised. Frankly, who wouldn't though?

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    3. You're right, Marvel doesn't give the women much chance, though Carol Danvers is getting a Captain Marvel series soon.

      The final page is a step back not because of Barbara's reaction, but because it's even there - I want this comic to stop dwelling on Barbara's past, and look to the future.

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  7. I feel this book is just okay, the loss of Oracle, and them not letting fans know if Babs was ever Oracle as well as the benching of Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown was not a good trade, and a loss at getting Babs back into the suit again. This series is losing readers by the month it keeps sliding as does every other series. DC is likely to cancel another ten book due to low sales. The lose of Oracle, DCs disregard to the entire disabiled community by removing the single mainstream woman in a wheel chair, destroying her just to bring back a rookie Batgirl, because they can was a hard slap to the face of a very huge fan base. I do hope somehow DC comics makes this up to that fanbase,

    Which I am part of being in a wheel chair. I am hoping Batgirl is cancelled soon, and DC realizes that they harmed so many people by doing this.

    Wendy

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    1. Hi Wendy, thanks so much for the comments. I agree on all points, there was no need to throw away two perfectly great Batgirls and an Oracle in favour of a less-enjoyable Batgirl book (Steph's was pretty much my favourite DC title). This series does have its moments, but I'd rather Gail were still writing Barbara in Birds of Prey.

      And speaking of Wendy's I liked Proxy too - sure, she was superficially a little Babs Jr, but she had a strong personality of her own. We were seeing the person, not the chair. Are there any wheelchair users in the New 52? I can't think of any offhand.

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  8. what ...what happened to nightwing he was supposed to be in love with her nt that other weirdo(raya)

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