Now that the holidays have passed, it is time to get back to blogging. And what better way to start than by reviewing World's Finest #3, by Supergirl team Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle.
Like the first 2 issues in this mini-series, this issue is fast-paced as Gates needs to have the characters meet, drop them into a mission, move his overall plot ahead, and have each issue end with a satisfactory conclusion. In this day and age of the standard 6-issue arc, it must not be easy. It really makes me appreciate all those 'done in one' issues of DC Comics Presents and Brave and the Bold I read growing up.
And this issue isn't just any team-up ... it's the first meeting of Supergirl and the Stephanie Brown Batgirl.
The issue starts with Oracle waking Supergirl from sleep to immediately activate her as a field agent for an ongoing mission.
Oracle has someone trying to track down Mr. Freeze who (you may recall) escaped capture at the end of last issue.Babs also hears that the Kryptonite Man is also in town. With that much trouble brewing, Oracle needed to call on a 'heavy hitter' so Kara gets the call.
This call is especially urgent since the operative Oracle has on the case, Batgirl, has gone off-line.
This whole scene between Oracle and Supergirl just reads right. The two have a history ... have worked together in the past ... and should be comfortable with each other as colleagues or friends. The conversation makes perfect sense. Oracle needs muscle; she thinks of Kara. Supergirl hears Barbara needs help so she's in.
Not to beat a dead horse, but I don't know if the earliest versions of this Supergirl would be so quick to say yes. I am glad this current Supergirl understands obligation.
I also love how Kara has a sticky note saying 'call Tim' on her laptop, a subtle reminder of her prior connection to the Bat family.
It's a good thing that Supergirl got on the trail right away. Batgirl and Catwoman are both welded to the inside walls of a freight container that is at the bottom of the Gotham river and taking on water. Luckily Supergirl is able to find and hoist the box to dry land and free Batgirl. The introductions are short and sweet. 'Hi I'm Supergirl.' 'Hi, I'm Batgirl.' Kara doesn't seem to be annoyed at the rescue or say anything sarcastic about the fact that Steph needs saving. Steph doesn't seem embarrassed or put off on being rescued.
Batgirl fills Supergirl in on the mission so far, how she and Catwoman both tacked Mr. Freeze and the Toyman to an old warehouse. Batgirl was sent to investigate a radiation leak. Catwoman is there for a bounty. Regardless of motivation, the two were overrun and dumped into the river by Toyboy.
The heroes' operation is pretty clear ... head to the warehouse and shut things down.
In a humorous moment, the two decide to leave Catwoman bolted to the wall, trussed up for the authorities. I love the pause as the 2 heroes look at each other and agree (without saying a thing) to leave Selina there. They are of like minds and already seem to be friends.
And they have more in common. As they enter the warehouse, they both quote the Batman, they both trained with him. It's another small moment that helps explain why the two would become fast friends.
Batgirl explains that the two supervillains had the Kryptonite man imprisoned in some sort of cryo-chamber.
Supergirl downplays the villains threat, figuring what could go wrong during the 'first Supergirl/Batgirl team-up'. I do like Kara's confidence here ... although it may be misplaced.
When the two break in, they are swarmed by malevolent action figures and Kryptonite taloned velociraptors all being controlled by Toyboy.
In my favorite moment in the issue, Supergirl decides to get to one of the roots of the problem. She derisively calls Toyboy 'Pinocchio' and smashes his head. That is awesome ... powerful and take charge.
Not to be outdone, Batgirl disarms Mr. Freeze before he can shoot at Supergirl. The banter and body language here is great, Steph sheepishly saying she wanted to be part of the action while Supergirl reminds Steph that Kryptonians are invulnerable. The art conveys that this is friendly chatter and not bristling with frustration. The two young women just seem to get along and I am happy to see that.
But the mission is far from over. The Toyman is using the Kryptonite Man as the power source for his Superman/Batman robot, last seen in the 'Public Enemies' arc of Superman/Batman. And armed with Kryptonite eye beams, it quickly gains the upper hand, grabbing Steph and blasting Kara.
This is just a great vertical double splash page really showing the power of the robot as it vanquishes the super heroes.
Batgirl signals to Oracle that she has a code black, the highest threat level she can relay. That means that Batman (Dick Grayson) and Superman get the alarm.
This was an excellent issue on all levels.
The writing and dialogue clicked. You could easily sense the budding friendship between Supergirl and Batgirl. No surprise that Supergirl's characterization is perfect in Gates' hands. And like the other World's Finest issues, this one was dense with story and fast-paced without feeling rushed.
As for art, it was great to see Jamal Igle back drawing Supergirl and he draws a heck of a Batgirl too. He is so comfortable with Supergirl, her body language, her expressions, everything. And the whole thing was topped off with a stunning Phil Noto cover.
I can only hope that we get to see more of these two heroes teaming up in the future.