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

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Teenage Regrets in Batgirl 17

By Drew Baumgartner

Batgirl 17

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

Teens are bad at perspective. It’s not their fault — adolescent brain development sticks them with overdeveloped emotional centers and underdeveloped reasoning centers — but it’s a big part of the reason they aren’t considered “adults.” Fortunately, the stakes for teens is often relatively low. Sure, who takes who to prom may feel like a big deal at the time, but maturity (and time and distance) reveal many teenage concerns to be the trivialities they always were. For that reason, it can be enlightening to revisit your biggest teenage regrets with a more worldly perspective — perhaps they’re not as regrettable as you remember. With Batgirl 17, Hope Larson and Chris Wildgoose seem to take that notion to heart, with a villain vainly asserting the opposite. Continue reading

Trust and Impetuousness in Batgirl 16

By Drew Baumgartner

Batgirl 16

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

Guys, I love American Vandal. It’s sendup of Netflix-style documentaries is spot-on, but the thing I love most about it is just how accurately it captures teen life. It renders the goofiness and triviality of high school life in intricate, loving detail, fixating on details that is both hilarious and instantly familiar. But at the center of all the dick jokes and awkwardness is the very real disconnect between the impulsive actions of teens and the logical analysis of adults. What’s more, it examines how the “seriousness” that adults adopt maybe leads them to dismiss important details (like the absence of “ball hairs” on graffiti dicks) that a teen — who actually takes those details seriously — wouldn’t. It makes a rather compelling case for teens as the best detectives for teen-related crimes, as they’re more sensitive to the heightened emotional states and subtle social cues of their fellow teens and more immune to the idea that those details are irrelevant. Hope Larson tilts at something similar in Batgirl 16, suggesting that Babs and Dick might have actually been better detectives when they were younger. Continue reading

Murder by Proxy in Batgirl 15

By Michael DeLaney

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

Villains tend to die by some one in ten chance coincidence of their own making – like Green Goblin getting impaled on his own glider. Similarly, storytellers jump through some creative hoops in order for our heroes to feel some respect of responsibility for their enemy’s end. Which is what Hope Larson does in Batgirl 15, as Nightwing vaporizes a woman’s body to dust via proxy. Continue reading

Unknown history sits at the heart of Batgirl 14

by Drew Baumgartner

Batgirl 14

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

I’ve never been a huge fan of dramatic irony — I can appreciate how giving us more information than the characters have can produce tension (or humor), but that information kind of gets in the way of relating to the characters. Still, I have a heck of a lot more patience for dramatic irony than I do its exact opposite, where characters are privy to information that is deliberately withheld from the audience. Not only does the tension it create feel cheaper (amounting to little more than a narrative chant of “I know something you don’t know”), it makes the characters even harder to relate to, as we’re necessarily left in the dark about what they might be thinking or feeling. All of which kept me from truly enjoying Batgirl 14. Continue reading

Embracing Camp in Batgirl 13

by Mark Mitchell

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

At what point does something become appreciated for its camp value? Tango and Cash is a terrible late-80’s buddy cop comedy starring Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell that was released to terrible reviews, but watching it now, one can’t help but appreciate just how surgically terrible it is — a concentrated dose of the cliches of the era, heightened to impossible extremes. A flop when it released in 1989, time has transformed it into an endlessly watchable cheesefest. Continue reading

Laying the Evidence in Batgirl 12

by Drew Baumgartner

Batgirl 12

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

There are no incidental details in prose. Or rather, there are no specific incidental details in prose. You might get a sketchy description of someone’s home or office, with the understanding that you can more or less fill in the blanks on what kind of furniture might be there, but if a specific item of furniture matters, it has to be mentioned explicitly. This makes it very difficult to introduce elements casually; if a specific item of furniture is mentioned, we can’t help but assume it will have some significance to the story. For most stories, that’s not a problem — indeed, faith that the details matter to the narrative might be fundamental to our enjoyment of them — but that gets complicated when there’s a mystery to be solved. That is, prose has a hard time giving us clues that don’t immediately broadcast themselves as clues; the very fact that it’s being mentioned betrays its significance. Continue reading

DC Round-Up: Comics Released 5/24/17


How many Batman 
books is too many Batman books? Depending on who you ask there ain’t no such thing! We try to stay up on what’s going on at DC, but we can’t always dig deep into every issue. The solution? Our weekly round-up of titles coming out of DC Comics. Today, we’re discussing Batgirl 11, Batman / The Shadow 2 and Wonder Woman 23. Also, we will be discussing Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 21 on Monday, so check back for that! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

slim-banner4 Continue reading

DC Round-Up: Comics Released 4/26/17


How many Batman 
books is too many Batman books? Depending on who you ask there ain’t no such thing! We try to stay up on what’s going on at DC, but we can’t always dig deep into every issue. The solution? Our weekly round-up of titles coming out of DC Comics. Today, we’re discussing Batgirl 10, The Flash 21, and Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 19. Also, we will be discussing Wonder Woman 21 on Friday and Batman and the Shadow 1 on Monday. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

slim-banner4 Continue reading

Batgirl 9

Today, Mark and Michael are discussing Batgirl 9, originally released March 22nd, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Mark: Of the recent Batgirl iterations, Hope Larson’s take on the character has been the most successful at embracing the many disparate aspects of Barbara Gordon’s life. As a young woman, Barbara is juggling her job, her schoolwork, her volunteer work, her friends, and dating all at once. That her job is vigilante heroism and not Starbucks barista undoubtedly separates her from her peers, but in most other respects she’s dealing with a lot of the same issues anyone who lives a busy life will face. But Batgirl embracing the work-life balance struggles of a young superhero is one thing, and making that dichotomy into a satisfying narrative is another. Continue reading