Batgirl 16

Alternating Currents: Batgirl 16, Drew and PatrickToday, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batgirl 16 originally released January 16th, 2013. This issue is part of the Death of the Family crossover event. Click here for complete DotF coverage.

Drew: Themes are tricky. As a semi-abstracted element of storytelling, they require an attention to detail that simply isn’t always there, but our perennial favorites never seem to struggle. Gail Simone has proven herself particularly adept at weaving notions of fear and independence into Batgirl, creating individual issues that satisfy emotionally even when the narrative doesn’t conclude. Leave it to the Joker to throw a wrench in those gears, thwarting any sense of thematic unity — essentially generating a meta-theme of chaos. It’s a brilliant and unexpected choice that manages to make the reading experience subtly unsettling beyond the issue’s own gruesome imagery. Continue reading

Batgirl 15

Alternating Currents: Batgirl 15, Drew and ShelbyToday, Drew and Shelby are discussing Batgirl 15 originally released December 12th, 2012. This issue is part of the Death of the Family crossover event. Click here for complete DotF coverage.

Drew: Much of being an adult is about suppressing our impulses. Taking that huge slice of cake, telling that inappropriate joke at work, or throttling the annoying guy on the train may cross our minds, but usually our understanding of the consequences wins out. As a crime-fighter with a secret identity, Barbara Gordon is particularly adept at keeping her impulses in check — she keeps it together when a case is frustrating her, or when a loved one is in mortal peril. Still, even she has her limits, and getting married to the man who paralyzed her AND JUST MUTILATED HER MOTHER is pretty clearly over the line. Continue reading

Batgirl 14

Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Batgirl 14 originally released November 14th, 2012. This issue is part of the Death of the Family crossover event. Click here for complete DotF coverage.

Shelby:  There are two stories I’m most looking forward to with Death of the Family: Jason Todd’s, and Barbara Gordon’s. Their connection to the Joker is the most violent, both physically and psychologically. Obviously, the Joker is in Gotham to destroy the entire Bat-family, physically and psychologically, but those two have a little more heart invested in the situation. We have spent the last year watching Babs grow and recover; she’s back to her strong, confident, compassionate self. With the Joker’s return, she’s changing again, but instead of reverting to frightened and powerless, she’s becoming a creature of rage: an even greater victory for the Joker.
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Batgirl 13

Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Batgirl 13 originally released October 10th, 2012. This issue is part of the Death of the Family crossover event. Click here for complete DotF coverage.

Shelby: What was the last really difficult thing you had to do? It could be something physical, mental, whatever. About  a year ago, I ran a 10K, the longest race I’ve run yet, and it was hard. I had trained for it, but not enough that it was a walk in the park. Not only was it hard on my body, it was also hard on my brain. I had to spend a lot of time reminding myself that I could in fact do it, that the little voice telling me I couldn’t was wrong. After it was over, you know what I did? I immediately went home and ran a half marathon. No, no, I’m totally kidding; I had brunch and took a nap. I rested, I rewarded myself for accomplishing this difficult task. Batgirl is concluding her fight with Knightfall just as Death of the Family is ramping up; instead of resting her broken body, things are just going to get much, much harder for Barbara.
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Batman 0

Alternating Currents: Batman 0, Drew and ShelbyToday, Drew and Shelby are discussing Batman 0, originally released September 12, 2012. Batman 0 is part of the line-wide Zero Month.

Drew: If I may, I’d like to offer a bit of my own zero issue: One year ago, I had never purchased a monthly comic. Comics culture struck me as insular and impenetrable, and I saw fans as hyper-vigilant of petty continuity issues. Today, I’m a regular Wednesday warrior, and — more surprisingly — have become a nascent continuity-phile. That tendency has reared its head most fiercely in our coverage of the Before Watchmen prequel series, where I’ve argued that strict observance of continuity is an important means to observe the source material. It’s an opinion that has lead to a few clashes with Shelby, who would much rather enjoy a comic than obsess over details — an opinion I can totally respect, and am striving towards. What better test, then, when another creative team I respect immensely revisits beloved, seminal works?

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Interview with Gail Simone: April 15th, C2E2, Chicago

This past weekend, Peter and I were able to attend Chicago’s C2E2 and meet some of our favorite writers and authors. Not only did we get to meet Gail Simone, author of Batgirl, she was gracious enough to do an interview. Turns out, she is even cooler than I realized.

Check out Drew and Patrick’s review of Batgirl 8 here!

Shelby: How has your mentality changed from writing Barbara Gordon in the chair in Birds of Prey to writing Barbara Gordon as Batgirl again?

Gail: I’ve always been a fan of Barbara Gordon, as most everybody knows, I loved her as Batgirl and was crushed when she was shot in the stomach by the Joker. I liked the idea that John Ostrander came up with, that she would become Oracle, it was a story of a character that took something horrible that happened to her and decided to do something great with her life anyway. I enjoyed writing that, and I like writing a really smart character that has compassion and wants to do good things, and as far as those personality traits, they’re still there in Barbara Gordon as Batgirl. We’re just telling stories of her when she’s younger, not as sure of  herself; she’s recovering from a very deep trauma, and so it’s kind of cool in the Batgirl book to be able to get into her character so deeply compared to when she’s part of a group in Birds of Prey. We go through how she feels about seeing her mom for the first time after all these years, getting her first apartment she’s not sure she can afford yet, having a roommate and not being able to get the job of her dreams because people don’t think she can do it because she’s too young, even though she’s super smart: all those are fun. Then at night we get to create all new villains for her and have her go out as Batgirl, and the joy she can’t help but feeling at being able to do that again is really fun to write, too. That’s not something we see a ton of either; the joy of being a superhero, even though it’s tough and you get beat up a lot and it’s scary and all of those things, being able to get up and get around and do something physically active like that, that’s nice to show her joy. So it’s really fun and it’s just a different approach in terms of telling a much more personal story that’s not a part of a team.

Shelby: You mentioned the stuff that happened in the Killing Joke, which, I mean, The Killing Joke is considered to be one of the Batman must-read books for obvious reasons, it’s an incredible story. As a writer, what was it like to touch on such a pillar of the Batman universe, and also what was it like creatively and personally to have Barbara revisit those events in the most recent arc?

Gail: The stuff that happened to her in The Killing Joke is major, as far as her character goes, so to not touch on it was something … let’s put it this way, I really wanted to touch on it because I wanted to tell the story of recovery from trauma, not being magically wanded out of it. So, the best way to do that is to touch on the traumatic event that happened. I do go through these feelings and emotions as I’m writing these characters because I have to in order to imagine how they are feeling; you do feel a little bit of that pain and that stuff, too, but you have to step back as a writer to try to get these things across in the best way possible for the reader. And it’s always an honor anytime you get to use a character someone you really admire created, or a storyline someone like Alan Moore, who you’re such a huge fan of for so long, wrote; I start to feel like my life is a little surreal at points, you know? I never would have imagined, as a young girl especially, that I would be writing Barbara Gordon, and certainly in my days as a hairdresser I never would have imagined I would be writing dialogue and storylines for Barbara Gordon, let alone touching on a story written by Alan Moore, so it does feel surreal.

Shelby:  One more quick question for you. You kind of touched on this a little bit in your first answer, but what do you miss from working on Birds of Prey?

Gail: I miss writing a team book like that just because when I first took over Birds of Prey my goal was to show that a female buddy book could be done, and it could be done without constant slap fights over boyfriends and bitchy gossip over each other and stuff like that, that we could tell stories about more important things. These girls, whether or not they agreed on every aspect of each other, they could come together and do something good as a team for society. So, that was my goal, and I’m very proud that we could do that, that it did gain such a fan following, and I thank all you guys for reading that, it’s amazing, it’s made my life amazing, and my ability to stay and do what I love, so I appreciate that. But, I definitely miss it, and I like writing team books but this gives me time to stretch some other muscles which I also enjoy.

Shelby:  Awesome, thank you SO much for your time today. I know, it’s the last day of a con, it’s busy, and you’re kind of overwhelmed with the whole weekend so I appreciate that.

Gail: Of course, but C2E2 is always amazing;  there are just so many supportive fans, people really getting into the New 52 now. The New 52 panel was just filled to capacity with people that were excited about what was going on. And after all winter in my office staring at a computer monitor, coming out and being in a large group like that and feeling the energy, it was very revitalizing for me too, so now I’m ready to go home and do some more writing.

Shelby: Awesome, thank you so much for your time!

Batgirl 8

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batgirl 8, originally released April 11th 2012.

Check out Shelby’s exclusive Gail Simone interview here!

Drew: “Closure” is a word we hear with increasing frequency in modern narratives. Characters reunite with long lost lovers or otherwise return to their pasts in order to move on to the future. This can be a compelling motivation, but it often reduces those characters down to some defining moment or relationship, keeping them rather one-dimensional. Real life problems are much more complicated, forcing us to settle for smaller comforts over the kind of profound sense of closure promised in movies. Batgirl 8 illustrates that point beautifully, providing a return to The Killing Joke that only addresses some of Barbara’s baggage. Continue reading

Batgirl 6

Batgirl 6Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batgirl 6, originally released February 8th, 2012.

Drew: When Gretel was introduced last month, she came with a number of mysteries, some large and important, others seemingly insignificant. These are all more or less solved this issue, wrapping up Gretel’s story with a little bow that feels a little too pat for what I’ve come to expect of this title. Gail Simone has done so well imbuing Barbara Gordon’s social life with complications (both small and large), that the conclusiveness of Gretel’s resolution feels out-of-place. Continue reading