Today, Shelby and Peter are discussing Batgirl 11, originally released July 11th, 2012.
Shelby: I recently finished Frank Herbert’s Dune (highly recommended if you like old-school science fiction), and one of the prevailing ideas is that of plans within plans within plans. The idea is that your enemies, or your allies, are never what they seem: that every plan you see is part of another more intricate plan, and so on and so on. The only way to survive is to think the same way, to create plans upon plans until even your closest allies aren’t sure your motives. I’m beginning to feel the same vibe from Batgirl; enemies and allies are telescoping inward, and every motive revealed is another motive for another plan.
Batgirl is still on the roof, preparing for a showdown with Knightfall and her goons. What she gets is an offer: Knightfall wants her to join their team as they exact justice on all Gotham’s killers. By killing them. Babs is obviously not cool with that, so Knightfall passes the order to kill her. Just when it’s looking like it might actually be the end for our favorite redhead, Dectective McKenna shows up and … saves Batgirl? As they chat back in McKenna’s apartment, we find out Charise spent time in Arkham after being convicted of her family’s deaths, and that the horrors she witnessed changed her into something unrecognizable. McKenna had seen first hand, when as a rookie she went in to Arkham to deal with a hostage situation, only to see her husband killed by a prisoner. McKenna also reveals that Batgirl has a mole in her organization, and we’re left with a shot of Batwoman poised outside McKenna’s house, ready to take them both out.
So many exciting things happening here, the most obvious being the crossover with Batwoman and the implications of that. To me, this means Knightfall et al. is a part of either Medusa or D.E.O., a guess confirmed by McKenna when she accuses Batgirl of being a part of either or both. If its Medusa, that would mean Charise was groomed to become Knightfall from the very beginning; if anyone is going to murder a family without leaving any evidence behind, it would be a group of magical people. BUT Batwoman is working for the D.E.O.; why would she be going after McKenna and Batgirl if they are fighting Medusa just like she is? UNLESS Knightfall is actually working for the D.E.O. and Batwoman needs to neutralize a threat to a coworker. I could go on and on, trying to figure out how all parties are connected in this. The fact that this arc is only 2 issues old, and yet seems to fold seamlessly into the Batwoman story-line is a testament to both Simone and the Williams/Blackman team.
And just when you think you’ve had enough of intrigue, Simone brings us back to the Alysia and James, Jr. story! James walks a drunken Alysia home, where he does 2 things that are creepy because we know who he is. 1. He asks very pointedly where Barbara is. 2. He tells Alysia he wants their “first time, truly alone…to be memorable.” YIKES, that is not going to end well. Babs is probably going to have to save Alysia from her psychotic brother sometime in the near future; I’m curious to see how Batgirl will remain anonymous during that exchange. And of course, because I am now steeped in intrigue, I can’t help but wonder if James is somehow connected to Knightfall, and Medusa, and the D.E.O., and Batwoman. Also, look at this fluffy, lion of a cat James gives to Alysia! That thing is huge!!!
One last point about Knightfall: I’m intrigued by her costume. She’s wearing a breastplate featuring a large, red cross. The red cross immediately brings to mind the medieval Crusaders, who fought to bring Christianity back to Jerusalem. They fought a series of bloody, bloody wars to kill all the sinners in their way of their holy land, and they did so with a promise from the Pope that their sins would be forgiven for it. Charise is obviously leading her own Crusade across Gotham, but what forgiveness is she fighting for? Is she really an innocent woman forced to witness unknowable horrors? Or is she a sinner as well, simply trying to buy her way back to her holy land?
Peter: The Knightfall costume is intriguing to me as well. It reminds me of the Michael Lane Azrael costume. For those of you who don’t know, Azrael is a vigilante working for the Order of St. Dumas who kills the bad guys. For video gamers out there, you can find Michael in Arkham City as part of one of the side quests.
Also, the name Knightfall invokes the classic storyline where Bane breaks Bruce’s back, and Jean-Paul Valley (the Azrael before Michael Lane) takes his place while he recovers, and eventually goes crazy and starts to kill people while he is Batman. Whether or not this Knightfall has any relationship to the Order of St. Dumas or Azrael is undetermined. It doesn’t really matter to me, but it would be interesting. However, with her own little team, personal vendetta, and Batwoman’s involvement, this is shaping up to be pretty interesting.
The moments with James Gordon Jr. are incredibly creepy. As you said Shelby, YIKES. Also, that cat is HUGE. It’s kind of a weird gift to give someone. I mean, who gives a cat as a gift? Psychos – that’s who.
The whole James Jr. storyline is still much of a mystery. We know he’s back, and is spending some time with Alysia, but other than that, not a lot is really going on. I would agree that soon Babs will have to confront her brother to save Alysia. Or she won’t be saving Alysia, and she’ll have to chase James down. Maybe some father/daughter team up?
I really liked the art in this issue. It was really nice to see Babs in an honest to goodness brawl, which is something we haven’t seen in a while. I love her inner monologue during the fight. She knows she’s outmatched, but yet, she’s still jumping in a kicking some serious tail.
Recently, DC Comics and Scott Snyder announced the return of The Joker. As the Clown Prince of Crime returns to the scene for the first time in the New 52, I am curious to see how this could, if at all have an effect on Batgirl. Gail Simone has used the Killing Joke storyline a lot in her writing, and now that Joker is back, will it come up again? I guess I am most curious about Barbara’s role in the Death of the Family storyline. Snyder hasn’t said anything about cross-over, just a large, dark storyline. I would bet that Barbara will be making an appearance somehow though. It would be a shame if she doesn’t since the Joker has been such a defining factor in her story.
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