Saturday, July 16, 2011

Review: Batgirl #23

I consider myself lucky to have discovered Bryan Q. Miller's Batgirl book just under a year ago.

I bought Batgirl #14 because Supergirl was a guest-star. And that was just a wonderful issue ... fun and action-packed with perfect characterization. I had read some Steph adventures before, in Worlds' Finest #3 and Batgirl #8 (again, read because of a Supergirl cameo) and enjoyed her breezy attitude, the joy she had in being a hero. It was refreshing. Based on these issues, I added Batgirl to my pull list and sought out all the back issues I was missing.

This is such a sneaky little good book. Steph has issues ... the usual teenage issues, the  usual 'new super-hero' issues, and the added angst of inheriting the moniker Batgirl and coming back from the dead. But with all those problems ... from tough classes, to romance, to guilt ... she jumped into battle, did the right thing, and did it with a wonderful sense of humor.

There is a lot I will miss when the DCnU comes into effect. This book is one of them, right there at the top. Batgirl #23, which came out this week, just encapsulated all of the things I love about the book.

Miller writes Steph as a wonderfully complex young girl. She is dealing with all the things I discussed above but you always get that sense that she is living her dream as being Batgirl. And none of those other things can tarnish that bright part of her life. Madcap issues like last month's team-up with Squire or the Supergirl issue just add to that joy. Being a super-hero should be fun sometimes.

And I have loved Pere Perez' art wherever I have seen it. His work is just slick and works so well in this book.

Batgirl has been tracking down an on-campus criminal group called the Reapers. The group has several tech-based power suits which they have used to battle Steph and get away with their crimes. The three free Reapers have broken into the Gotham penitentiary to free their captured comrades and get them their power-suits. Chaos has broken out. The Grey Ghost, a harmless hero wannabe who has semi-stalked Batgirl, has been killed by the Reapers. The detective Steph has been flirting with reveals he has a dark secret.

Despite the guilt and pressure and danger, Batgirl asks to be dropped into the prison riot. She needs to get to the bottom of all this, why it has revolved around her, and why the Reapers are sticking around in the prison even after freeing their friends. Her response is short and sweet. Being dropped into that Hell is 'stupid'. But it is what she does. Wonderful.

Initially, she tries to take on all five of the super-villains ... without much success. The super-speedster of the group removes her utility belts.

In one of my favorite moments, the villain discovers that the thigh belt Steph wears is empty. The thigh belt has been ridiculed since it's inception. I just thought it was wonderful to find out there is no equipment in it. It means Steph wears it because she thinks it looks cool. That just added to my love of the character.

But Steph was also smart enough to know she would need back up. And with the Bat-family all otherwise engaged, she called on some other friends. One shout of 'Shazam' later and some serious muscle comes by to help Batgirl.


That turns the tide. Look at how bored Supergirl looks when dealing with the speedster. I love it! And Perez draws a stupendous Supergirl, even down to the shorter haircut!

But Steph's responses are also great. First she says it is a sign of intelligence to call for help when you need it.

But 'got your nose' when she smashes a villain with her staff? Perfect. There is that joy in the face of danger.

Even the other girl heroes get some funny moments. I love this exchange between them about Bombshell trying to figure out her catch phrase.

I like that Stargirl, as the most experienced hero, thinks it is ridiculous.

With the super-villains contained, Supergirl and the others go to help with the prison riot while Steph goes deeper into the prison to see if she can discover who the Reapers are looking for.

How sad that Supergirl asks that a team-up with Batgirl should be a regular thing. As much as I would love to read those stories, they just aren't going to happen. Damn you DCnU!

It turns out the client is Batgirl's father Cluemaster.

I freely admit I am clueless about this aspect of her character. I didn't read Steph in the Batman comics; I know nothing about Spoiler. I have only enjoyed her here. But this seems like a big deal and I can't wait to read the next issue ... the last issue.

I have gushed enough. This book is great and it is going away. I hate when quality books disappear. There aren't enough of them out there these days.

How great would annual crossovers of a World's Finest of Kara and Steph have been?

Overall grade: A+


Heath Edwards said...

thanks for this batgirl review, anj. i, too, love steph as batgirl, and will miss her in the dcnu. (perhaps she'll show up in the new supergirl series...) having steph be one of kara's friends has been great for the character, and i wish tptb would've done more with them, and also the sadly missed (for me) cassie- kara friendship...

Anonymous said...

I have only read the first trade and the wonderful issue #14, so I'm eager to read the rest. Thanks for the great review. There's something truly magical about the Kara/Steph friendship. I would love to see it continued, but as you said, it's over. Their team-ups were delightful. I would have loved an annual "World's Finest" mini-series featuring Kara and Steph, written by Bryan Miller and drawn by Amanda Conner.

I still don't understand the point of this September reboot. I'm sure the sales will be higher than usual during the first three months or so. But how soon before the books steadily drop back to current sales levels?

I will miss the Kara/Steph friendship. It's one of the many touches that has made the current Supergirl character so very memorable. She will be missed.

Anonymous said...

Perez's Supergirl looks good... I still don't care for the short hair, but she looks good. Hopefully shadowing or thd classic cut was preferred to the shorts under the skirt.

I'm ok with the reboot, but I haven't liked much of the past few years on Supergirl, how she's drawn or written. The current arc seems good, though.

Dr. Thinker said...

I protecting the DCNU is going to fail miserably. Count on that -- 500% percent.

Gear said...

Miller's Batgirl has been so fun and refreshing, I'm really going to miss it. It's nice to have a character wearing a Bat outfit that's not always morose, can handle Damian in a light-hearted way, and make me smile and be happy that I read the book when I'm done.

"I'll let you know when I'm done clobberin'." {grin} Bravo, Mr. Miller, this has been some nice work from beginning to end. I'll be watching to find out where you land after the relaunch.

Gene said...

Anj wrote:
"How sad that Supergirl asks that a team-up with Batgirl should be a regular thing. As much as I would love to read those stories, they just aren't going to happen. Damn you DCnU!"

This the superhero team that I would have loved to read more of! I just couldn't figure out who could team up with Supergirl, Batgirl, Miss Martian, and Stargirl. Bombshell is perfect! A flash of genius on Miller's part!

The fact that we won't be reading anymore of their adventures together makes me dread the DCnU even more.


Anj said...

Thanks everyone.

The whole Oracle/Cass/Steph stuff for me is the biggest blunder (of several) in the DCnU.

This book has been gold: serious when it needs to be, fun most of the time, entertaining all the time. I will miss it.

Anonymous said...

It's criminal that they're not letting Miller continue with Steph. Here's a book that consistently sells at around 23000 copies a month, which is pretty decent in today's market, yet they're not acknowledging that at all? This issue was so good that it makes accepting the end of this series so much harder.

Anonymous said...

I love Bryan Q. Miller's Batgirl
And I'm sad to see him getting off of it once his run ends. He brought a great spin on Steph, Supergirl and the rest of the Bat-family that was heart-warming, funny, and just plain adorable! -ealperin

Anonymous said...

You mean Supergirl actually made a featured cameo appearance somewhere this summer and got treated with respect and deference??
She WASN'T killed by a "kryptoniteberry pie" thrown in her face by the Human Eraser???
My Ghod what is DC coming to??
Is Dan Didio in a medically induced coma or something? Has Marv Wolfman decamped for the Hamptons too early?
I am shocked to say the least!
Sigh I'd pay money to get Mr. Miller writing a Supergirl feature, he gets her...writers like that are an endangered species at DC.

John Feer

Martin Gray said...

Fab review, I completely - this is a great issue of a great series that will be greatly missed.

Saranga said...

"I would have loved an annual "World's Finest" mini-series featuring Kara and Steph, written by Bryan Miller and drawn by Amanda Conner "

Now I want this! *shakes fist* Damn you DCnU!

Jason said...

The Steph/Kara friendship really is a treasure and I would love to continue seeing more team-ups between the two. I am sad that won't happen now. I can only hope that with Barbara restored as Batgirl that maybe we can see a team-up of the original Batgirl and Supergirl (Babs and Kara) in the DCnU. Though with the description of the new Kara, I don't see that happening immediately.

Anonymous said...

That splash page, Bombshell, Miss Martian, Stargirl, Batgirl and Kousin Kara is in and of itself an incipient "All Legacy Girl" super team unto itself.
Too bad this will never happen under the Neu Ordnung at DC Comics...
Oh but wait, instead of that I"m getting a haughty Kryptongirl whose dialogue will have to be translated from high Kryptonese, I mean is that a deal or WHAT???

John Feer

Ayhe said...

That issue was gold! I enjoyed everything from it.
I will certainly miss this comic dearly D:

Anj said...

I can only hope that Miller finds some work at DC soon. They say Steph is still out there. Will there be a mini-series for this team?