Wednesday, April 10, 2013

SPOILERS: Batgirl #19

James Jr. was a messed up kid, surprise, surprise. He was one of those kids who watched horror movies, and critiques the serial killer's methods. Next thing you know he's strangling cats in a back alley. So now that we know that little bit of flavor, back to the present, Alysia happens to be watching the movie seen in the flashback, when Babs returns back to the apartment for the first time in days, and though Alysia talks up a game, scolding Babs for freaking her out, she welcomes her back home with a big hug.

Both Babs and Alysia sit down, as Babs begins to open up to her roommate about everything, well, almost everything, the Batgirl stuff wasn't touched, but she goes through everything from the Joker to her brother. Alysia has a secret too, which you may have read around the web today, she's transgender! Not quite sure as to which she identifies as compared to what she actually physically has got going, but regardless... surprise! I think? I don't know, I guess I sort of saw that one coming? This is Gail Simone, who has been teasing this for a while.

Anyways, Babs eventually gets the call from her brother, and heads out with Alysia's blessing. Jr. isn't done making a few calls though, as he also calls his father, because it's a regular family reunion.

Babs' mother meets Jr. at the old aquarium first, and because he's a jerk, he pulls out a gun to welcome his mother. Babs isn't far behind, putting herself in between her mother and brother. Jr asks their mother if she knew that Babs was Batgirl, as if to shock her or something, but Barbara reveals that Babs already told her, and that SURPRISE! She's got a gun too, and shoots her sun in the arm.

Jr. crawls off, but Babs follows the trail of blood into a trap, in the form of a giant mallet to the back of the head. Babs begins to black out, but fights through the injury to go toe to toe with her brother, easily beating the crap out of him. Then, for some reason, Barbara Sr. gets close to her son to ask why he wants to destroy the family, which boils down to "Marsha! Marsha! Marsha!" as he grabs his mother, putting a knife to her mother's throat.

Babs is done, she decides to end the game, and in a quick sequence of events, she throws a batarang that hits Jr. in the eye, sends him flying back, cracks his back on the railing, then falls off the boardwalk onto a bunch of jagged rocks below, dead... apparently. Babs tried to save her brother, as she sits next to her mother apologizing, but things get worse, as James Sr. arrives, gun drawn, wanting to arrest Batgirl for murder.

With the weight of her actions already taking a heavy toll on her, Babs for a second contemplates a concussive batarang to get away, but opts not to turn on her father, and gets away while he fires shots at her.


The Good:

So, while this issue was super dark, it was super meaningful for the series at the same time. The events that transpire in this issue can't just be thrown away, I mean... James Jr might actually be dead. I'll wait till they wheel him into the morgue, but we did see his body just laying there on a bunch of rocks. Too often in too many books, things just happen, and it's sort of a "whatever," as characters and writers move on, but this... this is some shit. As you also may know, this was Gail Simone's first issue back (now with Katie Kubert promoted from assistant editor) and it shows. While Batgirl has had its ups and downs for me, I much prefer the style Simone takes to story and narration than the kind Fawkes brought (which again, I just didn't care for the difference in style, nothing to do with quality). So, happy to have Gail back on this one.

The Bad:

Stop me if you heard this one before... I don't like Jr showing any sort of emotion, and his Jan Brady routine didn't help. I thought the batarang stuff could have been a bit more clear, I wasn't sure as to why James' back would break, it's not like he fell from a great distance onto the rail. The art indicates that the batarang may have been more than your standard projectile, and her mentioning the concussive ones a few pages later made me think that this could have been one of those, but again, it's not clear... and for god's sake, I don't care about the New 52, I don't think James Sr. would have any question about his daughter being Batgirl. That always bugs me.

The Bottom Line:

This was a particularly strong issue of the series. Sure, I wasn't always too hot on the use of James Jr., but he should be gone for a while now, so I can't rag on that anymore. I think the real story here is that Gail Simone is back, and it shows. We got a taste of the title under someone else, and the differences were pretty big. Good or bad, I just generally enjoy the aspects Gail brings to the book more than the alternative, and I'm glad she ended her long simmering arc with a big bang, that's not going to be brushed under the table.


1 comment :

  1. I am glad to see that Gail Simone and DC are being inclusive to more LGBT characters.

    My only issue with this series is that Barbara should have stayed as Oracle or assumed a new identity because she's isn't some young kid named Batgirl anymore.
    Seeing Oracle confront the Joker during the "death in the family" arc would have been so much more powerful to see.