Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Review: Batgirl #14

Batgirl #14, written by Bryan Q. Miller and drawn by Lee Garbett, was released last week and for me seemed to be the symbolic ending of the comics summer. Summertime is a time for frivolity and fun and that is what this issue was. It was light, funny, even occasionally silly. In this world of grim dark comics, this was a welcome change of pace.

I can remember a time when comics were always fun ... or at the very least 'rest issues' between big arcs were always something simple and refreshing, a place to take a breath and simply enjoy the medium. So to see Batgirl and Supergirl fighting vampires in such a humorous way was the perfect end to the sunny summer days, the perfect break from the heavier stuff I read.

First off and obviously, this issue was a must buy because it again paired up the 'new World's Finest' Batgirl and Supergirl. We saw how easy it would be for them to be friends in the great Gates/Igle World's Finest #3. Here it was nice to see that friendship maintained.

Supergirl flies to Gotham and 'rescues' Steph from Friday night game night with her mother. And it doesn't look like it was going well. Steph's scrabble rack has 3 E's, 2 A's, a U and a Z. Not much happening there. Seeing that perplexing rack was a small touch but it showed just how depressing that night must have been; even Scrabble was tormenting Steph.

This is clearly post-'War of the Supermen' so it would have been nice to see Kara with her shorter hair style. That also would have made it easier to distinguish the two heroes. At times, when Kara is out of her glasses, the two look very similar and only their dialogue helped me figure out who was who.

And I also thought it make more sense have Steph introduce Kara as Linda since she was there in her secret identity. Maybe Steph doesn't know she is Linda Lang?

Once freed from 'house arrest', Steph bemoans Friday Night game night and how boring it can be.

I like how Linda quickly tells Steph that she should cherish every moment with her mother. It was a nice moment. I wonder just what Supergirl would give to play Scrabble with Alura right now. It was a nice touch on the emotional issues that Kara is dealing with right now.

But, as I said before, this is more of a comedy issue and a night on campus is a time to get past any issues of sadness and solitude that the two might have.

As a HUGE fan of 'The Little Mermaid' (yes I am not afraid to admit it), I loved seeing Linda spin happily quoting the opening line to 'Part of your world'. Doesn't it sort of imply that Supergirl still feels a little apart, a little alien, and wants to be part of this 'normal' world?

It sounds like Linda has watched more Cinemax than Disney though as she thinks the hallmarks of college life are keg parties and pillow fights. Luckily Steph decides on something more tame.

There are many whimsical flourishes throughout the book such as this scene at the 'requisite super-collider lab' at Gotham U. This disgruntled student scientist is worried his funding will be pulled unless he comes up with some results. He has great fear that he might have to return to being a (gasp) T.A. Now that's funny.

It just smacked of stories of my youth where experimental labs, usually nuclear, seemed to be on every comic book campus, and almost always situated next to dorms. I doubt that would fly these days.

This scientist turns on the collider and it hums to life ominously.

Meanwhile, rather than indulge in some Animal House/American Pie antics, Linda and Steph take in an old vampire movie now upgraded to 3-D. But rather than chuckle at the Lugosi-like star hamming it up, both of them sympathize with his loneliness.

Certainly I can understand Kara's feelings of isolation now, given the tragedy of New Krypton. She is still dealing with the mass loss of friends and family. Maybe Steph's feelings stem from her lack of a normal life? As a newbie to the title, I don't know.

Regardless, both are shocked when the film is bathed in energy from the activated collider and multiple Dracula's spring to life.

I really dislike scanning and posting whole pages, feeling I should reserve my review to key panels. But this page might be one of my favorite pages of the year. I expect this to end up on my annual 'best of' list for 2010.

First off, without missing a beat, Supergirl steps up to battle the ersatz vampires. She is ready for action, her costume on underneath her outfit. It is interesting here how Steph feels something of the rookie here, dismayed that Supergirl is always ready for action.

But the killer moment is when Supergirl asks Steph if she is going to take off her clothes and be in costume too. When told that Steph isn't wearing her costume, Kara asks her if her bra has bat-symbols. As funny as that is, Steph's deadpan response is funnier.

A 'laugh out loud' moment in a comic? Wonderful!

A quick costume change, an explanation via pseudoscience of how there are 24 Dracula force field constructs running around, and a holodeck joke later, and the heroes are off to stake the vampires.

Is this a completely preposterous situation? Nonsensical? Yes. But that is the point. It is fraught with comic potential and that is the purpose of this comic. If you don't get that premise then you missed the joke.

I am intrigued by Batgirl and what feels like a mild inferiority complex she has with Kara throughout the book. Here she squirms when Supergirl says she understands the science here because of her guild. It is so weird to read a Supergirl comic from this perspective, to see how others view her. In Supergirl's comic, Kara is her own worst critic, often feeling inferior to others. How interesting that others put her up on the pedestal.

The set-up of the runaway vampires allows Miller to put Batgirl and Supergirl in a number of different amusing environments as they stake away. We see them take down vampires at the 'requisite Gotham dance club', at an ice cream shop, on a ferris wheel at a carnival. They even stake a vampire on a Segway. Ridiculous.

But my favorite has to be the Dracula in the photobooth. That makes absolutely no sense. Why would he go there? I love the progression of the photos.

It is this insanity that works with this romp through Gotham.

The last Dracula gets staked by both heroes as the adventure ends in a classic team-up style.

I love the easy-going manner with which Steph and Kara banter back and forth.

 The idea of loneliness comes back as the girls clean up after the fight. The scene really reminded me of the end of the Batman animated episode 'Girls Night Out'.

Sure this was a more serious moment after the wackiness of the main story but I felt it simply cemented the friendship of Steph and Kara. For some reason, and maybe it is the echoes of the Superman/Batman World's Finest team, this friendship just feels right, reads right ... more than I have felt when Tim or Cassie team with Kara.

I really liked this issue for all the reasons listed above. It was just absolutely exhilarating to read a simply fun comic, one that made me smile and laugh. After the dark nature of many comics and after reading Supergirl dealing with her emotional trauma in her own book (and trust me I am loving those stories), it was nice to see Kara letting loose, smiling, and having fun with a friend.

Stanley Lau's cover is gorgeous. I love the phony weathering, giving the book a tattered horror magazine or old movie poster feel. The internal art by Lee Garbett was solid, especially the pages where the two track the vampires ... some solid page construction there. It would have been nice if there was some way to more easily distinguish the two heroes.

I know a lot of my analogies are food related. This issue was like lemon meringue pie: light, airy, not too filling, but absolutely delicious.

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

Didn't love the art here, but the story was very funny indeed...Batgirl and Supergirl take time out for Ice Cream before dispatching Count Hologram?
Of Course!
Perfectly sensible...in an Adam West-Burt Ward universe!
The contrived nature of the challenge I could do without, but the real goal of the issue was to cement BG & SG's friendship and set them up nicely for future team ups.
Otherwise I guess "Supergirl goes to College" is the next plotline being teased here, if her goal is to "forgive, forget and fit in" that would be logical step IMHO.

John Feer

Anonymous said...

Sorry to dissapoint you but you have a bunch of typos in that post....

Either way, World's Finest is a great series! I'm going to pick it up once they have it in soft or hardcover.


Anj said...

Otherwise I guess "Supergirl goes to College" is the next plotline being teased here, if her goal is to "forgive, forget and fit in" that would be logical step IMHO.

I think we are going to see that in her own title. Should be fun.

Anj said...

Sorry to dissapoint you but you have a bunch of typos in that post....

Either way, World's Finest is a great series! I'm going to pick it up once they have it in soft or hardcover.

I had to rush finishing it ... so thanks for pointing them out. Hopefully I have caught them all.

World's Finest was great.

Gene said...

Anj wrote:
"As a HUGE fan of 'The Little Mermaid' (yes I am not afraid to admit it), I loved seeing Linda spin happily quoting the opening line to 'Part of your world'."

Wait a minute...
Remember a short time back when we talked about how the cover to Supergirl Annual #2 looked like a musical production with Kara and the Legion? Nikki suggested then that "Part of your World" should be Kara's musical number. Either somebody broke the "Fourth Wall" or Bryan Q. Miller likes this blog.

"It sounds like Linda has watched more Cinemax than Disney though as she thinks the hallmarks of college life are keg parties and pillow fights."

I doubt any mere mortal could survive a pillow fight with Kara.

"But my favorite has to be the Dracula in the photobooth."

Yes! That scene and this entire issue was a bucketful of WIN. If WB Animation continues to make those Showcase shorts, I hope they seriously consider adopting this story.

Nikki said...

That is the best thing I have ever blamed for. :D

Mart said...

Yup, this issue is a shoo-in for the next Year's Best Comic Stories digest from DC. It was a delight from beginning to end.

Good spot on The Little Mermaid, I've not seen that one

Jason said...

Yeah the having Steph introduce Supergirl as Kara when she was clearly in her Linda Lang secret identity. I'm hoping that was an editorial mistake.

Saranga said...

Loved, loved LOVED this issue! I will even forgive the short hair and introducing as Kara mistakes.

You scanned two of my favoutire pages Anj - the bra dialogue was hysterical as was the vampire in the photo booth.

This also had more than a hint of Buffy to it.


Anonymous said...

Did Kara get hit by Black Kryptonite again? Or is her behavior an act?
Or is she just in the grip of a practically psychotic mania?
And,of course,when is this happening wrt the Supergirl series?

PS.Laughed the whole way through the issue.Fun read.Bat bra!

Adam Smasher said...

It was a fun issue and the two make a great team... they really shuld be the featured characters in Worlds Finest.

I like the cover too. Kara is drawn to look like a teenager.

Anj said...

Thanks for all the posts.

As a comic reader, I need a fun issue every so often.

Congrats on Nikki for being on with the Ariel-vibe. I can only hope that Miller has stumbled onto this blog.

And I agree that a Batgirl/Supergirl mini-series would be fantastic.

Anonymous said...

This was a great issue. I like the relationship Steph and Kara have. Plus all the little bits referncing Kara's recent history (losing Allura, her joining the Science Guild) were nice pieces of continuity.

I think Steph's introduction of Kara as Kara was just a rushed moment since her mom was coming to the door.

The humor in this issue was prefect. Another fan of the photo-booth scene and the movie theater costume change. Really hope to see more SG and BG in the future.

Anonymous said...

Oh and kudos to all and sundry for putting Bela Lugosi in the "special guest villain" spot.

John Feer

Craig M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Craig M said...

I was very disappoined with the episode. I'm so very tired of Kara being depicted as an airhead.

She's been on this planet long enough now, and has gone through so much, that there's no reason why she'd be so ditzy.

I didn't like the "BFF" moment, not only did it make Kara look like an airhead again, but I'm concerned that we'll be forced to have Stephanie and Kara best friends instead of Cassie and she simply because of the "Super" and "Bat" in front of their names.

Cassie and Kara work as best friends. They're honorary Amazon sisters (if Diana is still Kara's foster mom/ aunt now that HER history has been changed), and they've shared so much together from nearly killing the President of the United States to the loss and return of Superboy. Yes, Stephanie has had a tough time finding herself, perhaps more than Cassie, and I'm not saying they shouldn't be friends, just I hope they're not just "bff"ing these two "because."

But Cassie or Stephanie, it always concerns me when I see her with any Teen Titan; althogh I'm grateful she was a member of that so we can see more Supergirl in Tiny Titans, lol, I just feel it diminishes her. Pre-Crisis Kara hobnobbed with the Big Guns of the DCU and she was also good friends with Barry Allen and Wonder Woman, and all this makes me feel like she's not getting her due.

Still, she's in the JLA, so that's something. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy she's back beyond belief, but sometimes it irks me when nowadays a looped film Dracula and kick her butt while in the old days she could put the moon out of orbit with but a kick!

I didn't think it made sense that a looped Dracula would be able to buy a train ticket, but I guess it WAS supposed to be a comedy issue.

Sorry, I just get extremely defensive with my favorite fictional character. She too often gets the short end of the stick!