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+