Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Batgirl 31, originally released May 14th, 2014.
Shelby: I love me a good, jovial villain. Any bad guy can be evil and cranky, but when they’re amiable, pleasant, flirty even, that is hands down the best. Those villains are unpredictable and creepy. Best/worst of all: you can almost find yourself liking them. They don’t fit into the standard good guy/bad guy dichotomy, which creates a far more complicated relationship between them, the actual good guys, and the reader. I love complicated relationships with fictional characters (what’s up, John Constantine), so I’m thrilled to see Gail Simone and Fernando Pasarin welcome Ragdoll to Gotham City and Batgirl.
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Batgirl Annual 2, originally released April 30th, 2014.
Shelby: A couple years ago I saw Melancholia in the theater, I believe with the esteemed Retcon Puncher Taylor. Spoiler alert: it’s probably the most depressing move I’ve ever seen. Beautiful, but calling it a downer would be an understatement. In it, Kirsten Dunst plays an extremely depressed woman; at one point, she is physically incapable of getting out of bed, relying completely on her sister’s aid. For me, it raised the question of how much leeway should we give people suffering from mental illnesses such as depression. While I was watching the movie, I was distracted by how seemingly mean the rest of the characters were to this severely ill woman, but you have to step back and think about the impact her illness has had on their lives. At what point do those closest to someone with this sort of disease finally snap from dealing with it, and can we really blame them for doing so? And finally, what happens when that mental illness manifests itself as super-powered criminal activity? (Okay, that last question is more about the Batgirl annual than Melancholia, but you get the idea.)
Gail Simone is a busy writer, but even her writing responsibilities on three different titles for three different publishers couldn’t possibly compare to her obligations at conventions. She’s in incredibly high demand, but we managed to pull her away for quick chat about how Batgirl has changed, having an effect on Lara Croft’s legacy and the freedom Red Sonja grants her.
Retcon Punch: It seems like you’re just a huge rock star around here. Has that gotten weirder?
Gail Simone: (laughs) No, it’s just amazing to see the diversity of the people coming through the line, which I think is incredible. All three projects that I’m working on right now — Red Sonja, Batgirl, and Tomb Raider — well, other than Red Sonja, the other two have a pretty wide age range of people that are coming through. Not too many real young kids are coming through here for Red Sonja. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Batgirl 30, originally released April 9th, 2014.
Patrick: One of the tricks to performing satisfying long form improv is the ability to call out an unusual thing and deal with it. In fact, most of the Upright Citizens Brigade’s comedic philosophy is based around that single truth: whatever’s happening, let’s identify it, explore it and process it. “Don’t be coy” is what that usually breaks down to. Issue 30 of Batgirl is mercilessly coy, refusing to share its biggest secret, but still tries desperately to mine pathos out of it. The result is an emotional clusterfuck — one that I doubt would be satisfying even if the powers that be deemed us worthy of Forever Evil‘s biggest reveals.
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Batgirl 28, originally released February 12th, 2014.
Shelby: Not that long ago, we had a glut of vampires in popular culture. Twilight, Vampire Diaries, True Blood:we were inundated. It didn’t seem that unusual to me, though; my high school into college experience featured a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Hellsing(the anime, not the awful movie), so “Vampires did it!” isn’t really that strange of a story for me. Outside of Legenderry and the occasional Halloween issue, though, vampires are not something I expect to see in the comics I’m reading. Needless to say, I was intrigued by the cover of this month’s Batgirl.
“It was a disaster. No one would accept the program…I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream your primitive cerebrum kept trying to awake from.”
Agent Smith, The Matrix
There’s some truth to ol’ Agent Smith’s theory. Humans do in part define their reality through suffering, because without suffering how would we know joy? In order to recognize and truly appreciate the good in life, you have to know the bad, which is the problem Batgirl is running into as she tries to understand her stay in Gothtopia. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Mikyzptlk are discussing Batgirl 26, originally released December 11th, 2013.
Spencer: “Blood is thicker than water.” This expression is usually used to describe how family has a special connection, how family has an obligation to stick together no matter what. It would be wonderful if that was always the case, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, families can be dysfunctional or abusive, or just go through hard times, and when this happens it hurts all the more because it comes from family; when the people who are supposed to protect us and love us unconditionally hurt us, it’s a special kind of pain. Batgirl’s been dealing with a lot lately, horrific events that would get anyone down, but they’re even more painful because family is involved. Fortunately, at least some hope is on the horizon. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Shelby are discussing Batgirl 25, originally released November 13th, 2013.
Spencer: They say disaster brings out people’s true colors; some perfectly normal people turn on their neighbors for petty reasons, while others will risk their own lives to rescue total strangers. For Barbara Gordon—at this point still a few years shy of “Batgirl” status—the disaster of the Zero Year brings out her heroic side for perhaps the first time ever. While some of the other Zero Year tie-ins have felt a tad superfluous, this story feels like a first essential step in the heroic legacy of Barbara Gordon. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and guest writer Mike are discussing Batman: The Dark Night 23.1: The Ventriloquist, originally released September 4th, 2013. This issue is part of the Villain’s Month event. Click here for our Villains Month coverage.
Shelby: It’s a well-documented fact around the non-existent Retcon Punch offices that I love morally ambiguous anti-heroes. That character who walks the dividing line between good guy and bad guy makes for such an interesting and exciting read. My love of the gray area between good and bad extends to the various shades of good and bad; some good guys are more good than others, some bad guys are more bad than others. With the Justice League dead, this month is going to feature a lot of bad guys encountering bad guys, and as is the case in this issue, no one really wins. Not even the reader, sadly. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and guest writer Chuck Maa are discussing Batgirl 23, originally released August 14th, 2013.
Drew: Superheroes lead miserable lives. The demands of serialized storytelling require that they are regularly beset by life-altering tragedies, are perpetually unlucky in love, and maybe die once or twice in their career. Month-to-month, it’s exciting, but when you total it all up, the life of your average superhero is unspeakably depressing. Take, for example, Barbara Gordon. Her mother abandoned her when she was a child because of her psychotic brother; her fledgling vigilante career was violently ended when she was shot in the spine; after regaining the ability to walk, she suffered from rather severe PTSD. Oh, and remember her psychotic brother? He grows up to be a serial killer who she now feels guilty of killing. Also, her dad also holds her responsible for killing her brother. Things seemed to be finally looking up for her last month, as she forgot her troubles and went on her first date with a new squeeze, but we all knew it couldn’t last. Continue reading →