Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Batgirl 41, originally released June 24th, 2015.
Spencer: One of the defining moments of my childhood was watching the Batman: The Animated Series episode “Over the Edge” in its initial broadcast. For any of you who aren’t familiar with the episode, it the one that ends its first act with Batgirl falling from a building to her death, proceeds to Jim Gordon, who feels betrayed that Batman never told him that Batgirl was his daughter Barbara, raiding the Batcave and capturing Alfred, and only gets more insane (and more violent — I never saw the episode reran) from there. The sheer spectacle of the episode captured my young heart, but it also garnered its fair share of detractors for its ending: the whole story was a nightmare of Barbara’s after being gassed by the Scarecrow.
The “it’s all a dream” ending never bothered me because, as exhilarating as the action was, the true heart of the story was Barbara’s fear of what would happen if she never told her father she was Batgirl. The conflict over Babs’ identity and Jim’s reaction to it is one I’ve seen rehashed in the comics numerous times since, but with diminishing returns. With Jim Gordon now taking the mantle of Batman, it seems inevitable that Batgirl 41 would again focus on this aspect of Jim and Barbara’s relationship, but I feel like I’ve seen this story a few too many times at this point. Continue reading →
Today, Mark and Michael are discussing Batgirl 40, originally released March 18th, 2015.
Mark: One of the seminal Batman stories, Alan Moore’s Batman:The Killing Joke, was released in March 1988, almost exactly 27 years ago. In that story, Barbara Gordon is shot by the Joker, paralyzing her and confining her to a wheelchair. The controversy spun out from Moore’s decision to use Barbara as a plot device has been defining her, for better and for worse, for almost three decades now.
I have sympathy for comic book writers. It has to be hard to balance respect for canon with the need to constantly create new stories. Too much disregard for history and you’ll alienate your audience, too much reverence and you risk stifling creativity. DC tried pretty valiantly with The New 52to split the difference between honoring the old and building towards the new, but their solutions were usually messy at best. When it comes to reinventing a well-regarded character, there’s no way to please everyone. But with Batgirl 40, writers Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart come pretty close. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Batgirl 39, originally released February 18th, 2015.
Michael: In most pieces of pop culture, the protagonist is the point of entry for the audience into the fictional world that we are experiencing. You’ll often see events or circumstances that the protagonist themselves isn’t immediately aware of, but for the most part you are riding shotgun with the main character. In comic books, that means you follow the story with the benefit of the main character’s narration/inner monologue. The tricky thing is that your hero may not always be a reliable narrator. Even if they aren’t intentionally misleading you, they are probably not giving you the full story. Such is the case of a one Barbara Gordon, the titular Batgirl. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Batgirl 35, originally released October 8th, 2014.
Drew: Referring to the setting of a story as a character has always irked me. Never mind that it’s a total cliche, but it’s almost invariably applied as a shorthand for a sense of place we all recognize that the story relies on as a crutch. In that way, I suppose settings are used as characters, but they’re stock characters, no more remarkable than, say, “high school jock” or “loose cannon cop.” The genericness of locations-as-characters only becomes more exaggerated in the fictional cities of comics, which have seen just as many interpretations over the years as the heroes that occupy them. When Gotham has been interpreted as everything from gothic to neo-gothic to art deco to just straight-up modern, and from post-apocalyptic to post-corruption, it’s impossible to generate any sense of setting without elaborating on this particular interpretation of the city. Fortunately, Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher do just that as they take the helm of Batgirl, lending specificity to their Gotham by, of all things, co-opting the stock character of Brooklyn. Continue reading →