Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back Issue Box: Detective Comics #509

With the relaunch around the corner and Barbara Gordon about to put the cowl on again, I thought I would continue my look back at one of the last Supergirl/Batgirl crossovers in the pre-Crisis DCU.

As I have said before, Babs leaving Oracle behind and becoming Batgirl again is one of my least favorite parts of the DCnU. This is the cover for Batgirl #2 where Barbara looks like she is about 14 years old wearing a cowl too big for her. Lots of other places have covered the de-aging of Barbara, even from the cover of #1 to this one.

Detective Comics #509 included the middle chapter of the Batgirl/Supergirl story where they square off against The Annihilator. As mentioned, the story has Batgirl feeling a bit outclassed by Supergirl as they fight this unknown foe. Writer Cary Burkett and artist Jose Delbo continue that theme here.

The Batgirl material was the back-up feature of Detective and doesn't even get mentioned on the cover. I do like this Jim Aparo cover featuring Secret Six' Catman.

Last issue ended with the mutated scientist Kenneth Anderson, now calling himself The Annihilator, terrorizing Gotham and draining Supergirl of her energy.

So Supergirl got taken out pretty easily last issue, flying too close to the Annihilator and ending up in his clutches. Like many mad scientists in comics, he wants to be noticed and wants people to bow before him. With Supergirl helpless in his grasp, Batgirl wonders just what she'll be able to do to the villain.

Despite her self-doubt, Batgirl actually continues to be effective throughout the adventure.

From a distance she is able to notice that despite absorbing Supergirl's energies, he has not absorbed her powers. He is not invulnerable. And that means he can be attacked.

Burkett separates brains and brawn a bit too neatly in this story, showing how time and time again Supergirl's strength alone isn't enough to defeat the villain. It is Batgirl's intellect that is equally important. Unfortunately, the only way to convey that is to have Supergirl thinking more with her fists than her brain.

Batgirl frees Supergirl from the Annihilator's grasp by stunning him with a tear gas grenade and a well placed kick.

In one of the weirder moments of the book, Babs hoists Supergirl's unconscious form and uses it as a sort of invulnerable human shield. Kara's body blocks the Annihilator's blasts. In fact she actually gets revived by them.

But again, Batgirl seems crushed that Supergirl can shrug off these blasts ... even though it was Batgirl that just saved Supergirl.

Refreshed, Supergirl decides to refrain from hand to hand combat with the Annihilator given his absorbing power. So she blasts him with heat vision.

But the villain's mental powers are fantastic. He is able to create a telekinetic shield which reflects the beams back at Supergirl and Batgirl. Moreover, after the attack he evolves even further, his head growing. And as soon as his new form materializes, he teleports away.

It is another time in this story that Supergirl does something flashy and super only to have it not be effective.

The two heroes decide to regroup to see if they can figure out how to defeat the Annihilator. They head to Batgirl's not so secret hideout, mechanic Jeff Cotton's fix-it garage. There isn't even a secret entrance.

It is something Supergirl can remedy pretty easily. In the span of 2 pages she cores out a mini-Batcave beneath the garage, including a secret entrance/exit in a tiny alley blocks away. It is a nice gesture from Supergirl. But it only makes Babs a little jealous! Batgirl can't believe how smitten Jeff seems.

It all seems a little beneath Batgirl. But I guess part of this story is her feeling some sort of self-worth.

And what is The Annihilator doing? Well like any ignored scientist suddenly flush with powers, he looks to find that special someone to be with. That's right! While planning to destroy all life on the planet, he also decides to look for a mate! I giggled at this.

But I also laughed at the heroes dismay for not figuring out how to defeat this guy. "Hey, we fought an unknown foe with unknown powers for about 20 seconds before he mutated and teleported away. Why can't we figure out a full proof plan to defeat him!"  Silly.

Luckily, Babs' photographic memory comes into play. She recognizes his lab coat. It is a lead!

The two decide to storm the research lab to fight The Annihilator. Unfortunately for Batgirl, the villain has picked her to be his macrocephalic bride. He plans to blast her with his weaponized meteor, mutating her into his mate.

I'll review the last chapter soon. While it is great to see Supergirl and Batgirl team up here, there isn't much space cleared to show us just how well they work together, just what good friends they are. Instead, Burkett plays up Batgirl's insecurities in the presence of Supergirl. It is the one note played throughout the story.

Delbo's are is pretty standard here. It is always nice to see the hot pants costume in action. As I said before, I will grade the story at the end of the next chapter, the final one.


Anonymous said...

Good review, but this probably isn't a storyline for me.

I've never been a real fan of the hot pants costume. I've always preferred the movie/matrix costume or the blue minidress.

I've never been a real fan of Supergirl and Batgirl crossovers either. The stories are usually the same. The villain is able to take down Supergirl easily and Batgirl uses her brain to take down the bad guy and save Supergirl. It gets boring after awhile.

Anonymous said...

The panel where Batgirl rather matter of factly uses her best galpal as a superhuman shield against fatal psy just hilarious to me.
I know some people regard Jose Delbo as a mediocrity, but there was a time in the late seventies I"d a paid good money to get him in as the prime penciler on Supergirl's Superman Family Feature.

John Feer

Charlie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie said...

I remember I used to have this comic story from issue 508 to 510 but I remember they had a cover with logo of Batgirl and supergirl on it. Anyone remember that version?

Anonymous said...

"As I have said before, Babs leaving Oracle behind and becoming Batgirl again is one of my least favorite parts of the DCnU."

Conversely, I'm glad that it happened and I think Barbara getting her cowl back was overdue. Stephanie was a great, great Batgirl. But to my eyes, Barbara will always be THE Batgirl.

It's always good to see a Supergirl/Batgirl crossover, even if the writer played up Barbara's jealousy a bit too much. Boy, she'd regret her feelings of inferiority and jealousy several years later, wouldn't her?