I haven’t picked up an issue of Justice League United over the last six months finding the title’s opening arc only so-so. The cover of Justice League United #14, featuring Stargirl and Batgirl, however grabbed my attention as did the odd collection of characters within. With the series facing cancellation before the end of the year it’s obvious that writer Jeff Lemire and artist Paul Pelletier have been left to their own devices to construct an unusual tale that while baffling still makes me want to stick around to see how things turn out. Congrats DC you’ve finally sold me on the title.
The issue includes no dialogue (other than a single deep exhale of relief from our heroine on the finale page) meaning those (like me) not following the events of Batman: Endgame may be lost going in as there’s no preamble, discussion, or narration to get us up to speed. Thankfully Batgirl’s role in the issue is straightforward even if questions are left unanswered.
I’m still very much on the fence about the New 52’s version of Black Canary, or her new title as the lead singer of a touring band, but at least Batgirl: Endgame #1 makes Dinah less of the vacuous bitch than she’s been in the last few issues of Batgirl and allows the former besties to finally bury a hatchet whose very existence was perplexing to begin with. Worth a look.
The “who is Batgirl” storyline seemingly wrapped up a couple months ago continues in Batgirl #39. The quick revamp of the character with spiffy new costume and younger feel got me interesting in Barbara Gordon once again but my interest is already beginning to wane. Although they finally make-up at the end of the issue, Batgirl #39 continues Black Canary‘s role as pretty much the worst friend ever as she completely abandons Babs once again in her time of need as my opinion of the New 52 version of Dinah Lance continues to sour with little relief in sight.
The latest issue does introduce an unexpected villain behind the town of Burnside turning on Batgirl as Barbara finally makes a connection between her computer code and recent memory lapses. I’m not sure I buy the final panel’s tease of who is responsible, but at least it feels like the comic is leading somewhere new.
Once again the art of Babs Tarr is the highlight of the issue, but the style and look of the series in and of themselves can’t hide the fact that better storytelling is needed. For fans.
Barbara set her sights on someone who has been having a bit too much fun impersonating Batgirl, in a more sparkly costume, enjoying the party life and bruising Batgirl’s reputation in the process. While still making amends to Black Canary, Babs drags her friends to an art gallery hoping to uncover a lead to find the impostor but only finds more embarrassment (much to Dinah’s devilish glee – although where does Black Canary keep disappearing to when there are villains putting civilians in danger?) at a fetish photography exhibit with Batgirl as its star attraction.
The new creative team keeps up the energy and more lighthearted feel of the comic. Although Barbara eventually defeats the fake Batgirl, the artist isn’t the one actually responsible for the calculated attacks on Babs. Once again the comic foreshadows a bigger villain in the shadows, one who knows all of Batgirl’s secrets and is having way too much fun at our heroine’s expense. I’m still betting it’s Calculator. Worth a look.
While trying to restore her lost data and make amends with the now homeless Black Canary (who coincidentally disappears in time for all the action), Batgirl is targeted by a pair of obscure-anime-obsessed fans who steal a pair of prototype motorcycles and begin causing havoc on the college campus. The new creative team continues the youthful energy of last month’s comic while revealing Batgirl’s latest enemies have a benefactor with wealth and computer skills (Calculator?) pulling strings from the shadows and targeting our plucky heroine with every move.
My only disappoint with Batgirl #36 is the fact that neither the flashbacks to Barbara’s past nor the investigation into the anime lead to Barbara eventually defeating the evil duo as she simply beats them using her usual skill-set. Batgirl #36 is a good example of where the new New 52 series gets into trouble by trying to make Barbara appear younger and inexperienced but still include her lengthy history and experience (which comes and goes as need-be). Despite these issues it’s still pretty darn entertaining. Worth a look.
DC Comics’ decision to end Stephanie Brown‘s days as Batgirl reinstating Barbara Gordon as the character with the launch of the New 52 never sat right with me. First, despite loving writer Gail Simone‘s work, I don’t want a gritty Batgirl comic. Second, Stephanie brought a youthful energy to the character that had been lacking for years. And third, Barbara Gordon (handicap and all) is a far more interesting character as Oracle rather than a role she outgrew years ago (long before being confined to a wheelchair).
The comic gets a new direction with Batgirl #35 that effectively de-ages the character and creates a more lighthearted world for her to live. Throw in a kick-ass new low-tech costume, a guest-appearance from Black Canary, and Babs fighting the mother of all hangovers to recover her stolen property, and the creative team of writers Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher, and artist Babs Tarr, sell me on the concept fairly early. Do I still wish it was Steph under the cowl and Babs behind the computer? Absolutely, but at least this version of Batgirl has a little of her youthful energy and a slightly less dingy world to explore. Worth a look.
The latest adventure set in the world of the 60’s Batman television show pits Batman and Robin against The Sandman who puts all of Gotham City into a highly suggestive sleep to complete the largest robbery the city has ever seen. After catching the Dynamic Duo in his trap as well the villain attempts to pry the location out the Batcave out of them by controlling Batman’s dreams (which include a couple of really cool panels by artist Ruben Procopio).
Despite nearly giving away the secret location of the Batcave (and with it his secret identity), Batman eventually realizes and takes control of the dream allow the heroes to wake-up and put the villain to sleep (so to speak). The Sandman falls very much into the D-list category of Bat-villains, but the tale is fun and certainly fits the style of the comic.
The issue also includes the first appearance of Batgirl in a back-up story, featuring some fun art by Colleen Ann Coover, when she takes on the Eartha Kitt Catwoman who attempts to rob the Gotham Museum of the priceless Tiger Topaz. Worth a look.
To help them survive, Power Girl, Supergirl, Batgirl, Robin, Hawkgirl, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Flash, Steel, and Strange are all gifted white rings by Metra. Even with the power boost the group of heroines still eventually fall to the never-ending onslaught of death causing the New God herself to get involved and create a new stalemate between life and death with the creation of a new crisis.
Things fall apart for me in the final pages where Metra gets directly involved. I would have preferred the ladies to win the day on their own but the (unsubtle) Motherbox metaphor works okay and sets up new possibilities (albeit for a comic whose days appear to be numbered). Worth a look.
Batman and Robin continues to cover an out-of-control Batman dealing with the death of Damian we aren’t seeing much of in the other Bat-titles. The latest issue brings in Batgirl, who has removed the Bat-emblem from her costume, to try and talk some sense into Batman whose ice-cold demeanor and brutality has begun to scare everyone, even her.
The confrontation between Batgirl and Batman in the cave is interesting, but isn’t hardly the tact someone as smart as Barbara would use. I do like her offer of wearing the Robin costume, but its stuck in the middle of an out-of-control argument that has no hope of reaching Batman. Hit-and-Miss.