Wednesday, March 13, 2013

SPOILERS: Batgirl #18

The building that Babs had entered to confront Firebug has, well... it done blown up real good! As a good handful of people watch on as the building collapses, James Jr is amongst them, concerned for the fat of his sister... seeing as he's the one who wants to kill her. As the civilians dig through the rubble for Batgirl, James helps, but just until the point where she emerges, pretty knocked around, giving him the opportunity to make his escape.

Elsewhere, Harvey Bullock has just locked up the former Joker thugs Babs had tipped the police off of. Gordon attempts to speak with Harvey about the Firebug attack, but gets a notification on his phone telling him to go to the roof. Gordon finds Bruce waiting for him, and all we see is Bruce say: "Jim..." Then we cut to Gordon, visibly troubled, calling his daughter to make sure she's alright. He eventually tells Babs that Robin has died, worried for how the City will take the death of one of their heroes. Babs assures her father that she's alright, and as she hangs up, starts to cry a little, feeling awful for Bruce. She attempts to call Dick to speak to him about Damian, but Dick already knows, and doesn't really want to talk at the moment.

Knowing she still has work to do on Firebug, Babs toughs it out, and goes back to work analyzing some evidence, when her phone calls. She assumes it's her dad, but Jr ends up being on the other line, letting her know he's getting ready for them to play, so to speak. Babs basically tells her brother to fuck off and bring it, suits up, and heads back out to catch Firebug.

As Babs catches Firebug, who does the "You don't even know the kind of people I work for" sort of deal, James decides in order to start getting to his sister, it's time to kill their mother. Unfortunately for James, he arrives in the hospital to find his mother's bed empty, as a nurse tells him she checked out a few minutes prior.

With Firebug caught, Babs turns her attention to tracking her brother's phone, which she traces to a old home in a rundown neighborhood. But, Jr is nowhere to be found, only a pinned up bat, with "nice try" written in blood. Across from the house Babs got tricked into searching, James sits in what looks to be a young girl's room, hands covered in blood, then calls his mother, who ended up seeing James coming, and had just dodged him at the hospital. He tells his mother that she will meet him, or else he'll, and I quote "kill her" and then "make dad eat her." YEP.


The Good:

Overall, this was a much more coherent and well put together issue than Fawkes' first outing, in my opinion. Like I said back then, I don't necessarily blame him on that one, it's just that there were a whole bunch of plot threads, and the different type of narration style didn't help. This one just had a nice flow to it, and I saw that clear line between scenes. I also really, really loved the scene with Jim and Bruce. So simple and minimalistic, all that needed to be said was "Jim..." and then cut to Gordon looking stressed as all hell. Less is more in that situation, and to have no page full of exposition was a great choice.

The Bad:

This requiem stuff seems so disingenuous outside of Batman and Robin and Batman at this point. You can tell the editors just went "oh and address the death of Damian at some point." Like I can understand how it wouldn't be all that great to have a full issue of Babs being all sad for Damian, hell I don't think I've ever seen them exchange any words, but I don't know, I guess I'd just rather not have it all.

I also just still can't get over the use of James Jr. Every now and then he does or says something to make me think "oh that could be cool," but then I go back to just wanting him to go away. There's no style to him anymore, it's just "Okay, time to kill mom." Really hope after next issue he's given a rest.

The Bottom Line:

This was a solid, well told issue, which was personally bogged down for me with my James Jr. fatigue, and feeling that the style of story telling doesn't quite fit the title.  Overall, I wouldn't say anything is wrong with it, I just don't think it was a great fit. I will say though that I genuinely enjoyed how strong of a character Fawkes portrays Babs as, intelligence is key to her, and he definitely showed that off in his two issues.


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