Wednesday, January 15, 2014

SPOILERS: Batgirl #27

Welcome to Gothtopia, blah blah, Gotham is all happy and safe. Say hello to Ms. Ramirez, who has a great life and a great job as the head of an ice cream company. But one day Ms. Ramirez wasn't feeling the happy and started having terrible dreams of a smile in the dark... hmm, wonder what that is? Oh well, time for another day at Joker Ice Cream.

Oh hey look, Gothtopia Barbara! She's happy too, everyone is so happy, nothing is ever going to go wrong! After a morning breakfast with her father, Barbara begins to patrol Gotham as Bluebelle, eventually running into her sidekick Daybreak, who is actually Knightfall. Meanwhile, Ramirez is acting kind of funny at work, employees are wondering about surprise inspections and maintenance on their truck radios, but Ramirez plays it off as normal day-to-day stuff. Totally unsuspicious day, good thing there's a field trip of elementary school students visiting soon!

Oh wait, things went bad! Bluebelle and Daybreak hear some screams, and see people dying from poisoned ice-cream on the streets. The truck radios are down, so the driver can't warn the others, so with a couple fatalities already, Bluebelle and Daybreak take to forcibly removing the ice-cream from the possession of anyone about to eat it. It's from one of the people Bluebelle saves, that she learns of the field trip to the factory.

At this point, Ramirez has gone full on mad... ish. Having shot one of her workers, she leads all the children into a room, where she puts on a make-shift mask with a grim smile on it, explaining to the children that her family had died at a roller rink while she was home sick (Death of the Family call back), she can't remember the details, but she remembers the smiles they had on their faces, and she ended up going mad while everyone else remained so happy.

Outside, Bullock and the GCPD are preparing for the worst with a sniper, Bluebelle tries to talk them out of it, but it's no use, so she rushes in, trying to avoid anymore deaths. When Bluebelle finally confronts Ramirez, she see's the mask and begins to remember. Ramirez recognizes that Bluebelle also remembers how the world used to be, finding joy in knowing she's not alone, but before she can say more, the sniper takes the shot, and does not miss. With that, Ramirez dies, Barbara unable to get any explanation.


The Good:

For a good part of this issue, I was pretty lukewarm on it, up until the point where it got tied back to Death of the Family. I think it was around the outrage of how many people Harley killed in her villains month issue where I made the point of "Are we really caring about the fodder of Gotham?" Because as cynical as it may be, who gives a shit about the random people who die in Gotham? So many people die in all the various Bat related books, it's a friggen joke. I don't care about them because why should I? They're nameless stiffs who hit the floor whenever a Gotham villain has a bad day meant to bolster how CRAAAAZY someone like the Joker is, and most writers treat them as such, so again... why care? But Gail Simone actually took the time to portray how the deaths of nameless bodies in one issue would actually affect someone outside of the characters we all know and love. Seeing the results of random deaths caused by a villain's latest scheme is something we hardly ever see, so despite it being brief, this issue gave Gotham a sense of believability, and dulled some of the cynicism that could be found in Gotham titles.

The Bad:

We got some fill in art by Robert Gill, which actually looks a good deal like Pasarin's, but that's the problem... It's just uninteresting. Like Pasarin, there's nothing about Gill's style that really stands out. It's pleasant enough, but fits in with this entire volume's tendency of having art that has no visual uniqueness to it. If anything, I'll give Gill credit for not having some painfully awkward facial expressions like Pasarin does from time to time.

The Bottom Line:

While this issue does some stuff we rarely see, like give a voice to the families of victims in Gotham, it ultimately pans out to be another pretty okay tie-in. There's been a lot of Batman tie-ins recently, and they ultimately end up being unrelated side stories when placed next to the story they're actually tying into, and that's the wrong way to do it in my view. I'd much rather have a tie-in that contributes something to the big picture, something this issue (and Batwing before it) didn't do. While it's a fine story on it's own, there's just something ultimately underwhelming to it.


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