Graphic Novel Reviews: Batgirl 008

We finally get some answers in this issue, namely, why did Barbara’s mom leave all those years ago? She basically reveals that Barbara’s brother was a sociopath, and because she was afraid the mom left. A quick search on wikipedia revealed that there is some story there I’m obviously missing. Not having this backstory I’m left at odds with what I’m supposed to be feeling. Again, there’s no clear distinction of what is stil canon and what isn’t, and if this reboot was meant to bring new readers in, it might help to not reference things said readers are not familiar with. Either keep all the continuity, or eschew it all. Make a choice.

That being said Gail Simone does a good job of giving new readers the basics, and it was more out of personal curiosity, not necessity, that I made my way to wikipedia. So from a functional stand point it works, and considering the ending I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out. Super powered villains, such as Grotesque can be fun from time to time, but you need some real drama to really get readers interested. Personal drama tends to work best. Have the villain be related to the hero, and you’ve got yourself some instant investment for the hero right there.

The part of the book with Grotesque’s goon, Danny, the one Barbara recognized from when the Joker shot her was a bit odd. She recognizes him from that time, and then helps him get away. Why? Of course this is sort of answered later on, when he reveals that the reason she survived was because he had a change of heart afterwards and got her help. But she didn’t know that at the time, so that just makes her actions all the more confusing. He was there when she was shot, and she just lets him go? Doesn’t make sense.

I did quite like  his involvement in the story though. The idea of Gotham is that it’s a corrupt place, but a place that can be salvaged. Danny is symbolic of this. He was a criminal, but even he had a conscience that led him to do the right thing after Joker’s assault on Barbara. He tried to do right from that point on, to stay on the right side of the law. But he couldn’t find work because who would hire an ex-con? Society itself drove him back to crime, because it provided noplace else for him to go. Gotham’s problems are deeper than just a few psychotics, people that want a better chance at life aren’t given it, and so they turn to crime.

I quite enjoyed the ending, despite the obvious overtones of “dun-Dun-DUN!!!”, for the reasons mentioned above. Personal drama is generally more interesting, as long as it’s well written, than mindless action any day. I’m looking forward to see where Simone takes this plot thread.

Overall Batgirl is quite a bit better than I initially expected. There are a few questionable moments, but Barbara is very much like Dick, in that both provide a much needed lighter tone to the Batman mythos. Grim, dark, and brooding is all good and fine, but sometimes it’s necessary to remember that being a superhero would be the most awesome thing ever. Batgirl realizes that, and she enjoys herself, while at the same time remembering that being a superhero would be the most horrible thing ever. What with marketing executives and whatnot controling your very existence…

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