Breaking the Loop in Batgirl 23

By Drew Baumgartner

Batgirl 23

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

We all have patterns. We run through them again and again until, one day, we finally see ourselves clearly and choose a different path.

Barbara Gordon, Batgirl

Let’s hear it for the quarter-life crisis. We tend to hear more about the mid-life crisis as either a pitiful or destructive force (usually middle aged men blowing money on a sports car or torpedoing their family life for a young girlfriend), but I think the quarter-life crisis is almost the opposite. As society extends adolescence well beyond the teenage years, and careers now take longer to kickstart than they did in generations past, the “what am I doing with my life?” urgency that kicks in around 25 can add some guiding structure. Maybe I’m biased in that way — my own quarter-life crises forced me to identify concrete goals that eventually sent me back to school — but I think a lot of us fall into a rut in our early 20s that we only later get the perspective to shake us out of. Maybe it’s a dead-end job, or an unfulfilling relationship, or a crummy apartment, or bad eating habits. For Barbara Gordon, that rut is a literal mind loop, preventing her from moving forward with her life. Continue reading

Jack and Batman Come Clean in Batman: White Knight 7

By Michael DeLaney

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

As Batman: White Knight races towards its finale, Batman and Jack Napier come face to face with their own egos and shortcomings. After spending the majority of the series as an aggressive bully, Sean Murphy finally gives Batman the opportunity to be heroic again in Batman: White Knight 7. Continue reading

The Gordons Investigate Together in Batgirl 21

By Drew Baumgartner

Batgirl 21

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

One of my favorite anecdotes (not mine), involves some confusion at an Arby’s drive-thru — a woman orders orange juice and drives away with a cup full of au jus. Of course, the entire premise of that story requires us to accept that anyone would order orange juice at an Arby’s, but I like the punchline enough to justify that minor suspension of disbelief. And that really is how I think about suspension of disbelief: if it’s justified — even retroactively — I’ll happily go along for the ride; if not, then the very odd detail of the orange juice at the Arby’s drive-thru probably shouldn’t be there. Such is the case with Batgirl 21, which finds both Babs and Jim independently investigating the same supernatural phenomenon, but never quite justifies their choices. Continue reading

Memories Leave their Mark in Batgirl 20

By Drew Baumgartner

Batgirl 20

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Batgirl’s eidetic memory has long been one of her most valuable assets as a crime fighter. Remembering crime scenes in intricate detail or the face of every suspect she encounters makes detective work almost a natural extension of her being. Indeed, her eidetic memory has proven so essential to her detective work, it’s easy to forget that it has dramatic possibilities beyond that. Or, at least, other creative teams have made it easy to forget — not so with Hope Larson’s run, which has found countless inventive ways to use Batgirl’s eidetic memory. With issue 20, Larson finds yet another great use for it, as Batgirl takes a drive down some literal memory lanes. Continue reading

Welcome Nuance Enriches Batman: White Knight 5

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

This is the first installment of Batman: White Knight where Batman has really felt like Batman to me. Sean Murphy digs into the character’s nuances in a way that he hasn’t in previous issues. This is the Batman who will buy Harley Quinn a dress and support her sincere, if bungled, efforts to reform, because under his gruff exterior he truly does care about people, even villains. This is the brilliant detective who has managed to piece together a good 95% of Neo-Harley’s plan when most of the other heroes barely even realize she has a scheme at all. Even Batman’s failed attack on Neo-Harley that closes the issue — which results in the destruction of one of Gotham’s bridges and Batman becoming a fugitive — is motivated by Neo-Harley’s personal attack on him and a desire to protect his family, not wild, unreasonable vengeance. This isn’t the gruff madman of previous issues — this is a complex Batman who still wants what is best for Gotham City. He’s just blinded by his hatred of the Joker. Continue reading

Camp, Parody, and Political Edge in Batgirl 19

By Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Last July, I wrote at length about Batgirl 13’s full-armed embrace of the campy spirit emblematic of the Batman TV show of the 1960’s, and with Batgirl 19 Hope Larson, Chris Wildgoose, and Jose Marzan Jr. continue to lean into that care-free aesthetic. Continue reading

Uncertain Uncertainties in Batman: White Knight 4

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Despite the series being at its halfway point, I honestly don’t quite know what to make of Batman: White Knight. I still believe that Sean Murphy is a tremendous artist, but other than that, my feelings about this series are mired in uncertainty. It seems that some of that uncertainty is purposeful, inherent to the premise, but some of it feels very unintentional and frustrating. I wish it was easier to tell the difference. Continue reading

Batman and The Signal 1: Discussion

by Michael DeLaney and Taylor Anderson 

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Michael: “Do I fit in?” If you are a human being, then you have likely asked yourself this question at least once in your lifetime. We all want to be a part of something; to be a member of a group, team, or soul-costing cult. And if you’ve been reading Scott Snyder’s Batman run for the past few years, another question has been on your mind: “What the hell is the plan for Duke?” Batman and the Signal 1 finally begins to answer that. Continue reading

Surprise Morals in Batgirl 18

By Drew Baumgartner

Batgirl 18

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

There’s a certain type of pat morality we expect of a Christmas special. Even the most cynical characters and series might find comfort and joy in the season. Indeed, the insistence on moral lessons at the end of Christmas stories seems to supersede the typical tone and characterization of the series as a whole, giving “Christmas specials” more in common with one another than they have with their own series. It’s a common enough phenomenon that we both expect and accept it right from the jump, but that’s exactly the expectation Hope Larson and Sami Basri thwart in Batgirl 18. Continue reading

Batman: White Knight 3

by Mark Mitchell

Batman White Knight 3

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The primary mystery of Sean Murphy’s Batman: White Knight (with an assist from Matt Hollingsworth on colors) is determining what exactly Jack Napier’s intentions are. How much of his stance against Batman on moral grounds is part of a longer con? And even if Napier is truly free of the Joker, he’s certainly willing to indulge in a little villainy if the ends justify the means. But then, the same can be said of Murphy’s Batman, and it’s the murky morality of most all the major players in Batman: White Knight 3 that makes this book so compelling. Continue reading