Wednesday, April 30, 2014

SPOILERS: Batgirl Annual #2

It's Spring, and here are the Birds of Prey! Remember when the team at least had an interesting lineup? Not only was their Black Canary and Batgirl, but you had Katana, Starling (fucking Starling!) and last but not least, Poison Ivy. Definitely not your average Birds, but they were cool... So here's a lost tale of that team, on the look out for a man called Dr. Rain, who somehow is getting terminally ill people to act as terrorists for him. At the end of the fight, which Batgirl notices Ivy acting oddly happy during, one of the people they beat whispers something into Ivy's ear on behalf of Dr. Rain, which kills her mood instantly. A week later, Ivy betrays the Birds in a story I can't even remember at this point.

Throughout the following seasons, Barbara continues her search for Dr. Rain, and each time she gets a lead on the man, Ivy shows up as well, acting different each time. While Babs is skeptical of Ivy, she learns that apparently Dr. Rain offered to "fix" Ivy. Fix her of what, well that's still a question. During their first post-BoP encounter, the duo discover that Dr. Rain has a whole big fridge of what looks to be cadavers with large amounts of scars all over them.

In the fall, Babs and Ivy cross paths again, Ivy more generally apathetic towards most everything this time around. A lead has brought them to a hospital where one of the men who worked for Dr. Rain is on life support. Turns out Dr. Rain offered implants to terminally ill patients which would keep them alive for an extra six months... Catch was that it basically turned them into organ farms, and the implant, which used plant DNA or something, grew organs that were later harvested for rich clients. Now the man, who has lived a sad life recently, is ready to die, but is kept alive on life support. After Babs and Ivy leave, tensions escalate after Babs figures out what Ivy is really interested in Dr. Rain for. She doesn't care about what he's doing to people, only to get her Seasonal Affective Disorder fixed. She doesn't care about anyone but herself, nor does she have any friends, according to Babs. Ivy claims this to not be true, as she has Harley Quinn who she loves, and was hoping to eventually have more than one friend, but seems like that isn't going to happen. So a brief skirmish goes down, and they go their separate ways. Before Ivy leaves the hospital, she visits the man again, and tells him a story of her youth, then gives him a kiss of death to deliver mercy, and what the man truly wanted.

Come Winter, Babs has tracked Dr. Rain down into the woods of Kane county, where she she finds Ivy, very decrepitude, and effected by the winter season. They find Dr. Rain in the woods, and after Babs reveals that she does have evidence to incriminate him, Rain offers one of his implants to Ivy if she kills Batgirl. Ivy doesn't really like taking orders from men or anything, so she attacks Rain instead, almost killing him, if it wasn't for Babs talking her into showing mercy. With Ivy calmed down, she thinks of what once could have been between them, then offers herself to go to Arkham willingly, telling Batgirl they'd be even afterwards. But before that, Babs gets Ivy to help revitalize a community garden her roommate had planted that got vandalized. Aww, isn't that nice.


The Good:

I liked the seasonal take on Ivy. While I feel like it may have been done before, nevertheless, it's definitely a take that works an makes sense, and splitting the story up by the seasons was a clever device as well. Birds of Prey while both these characters were on the team, was sort of all over the place, and we didn't get many personal stories between the characters, so there was a lot of wasted potential there, wasted potential that gets picked up here. Gail Simone manages to explore the relationship between Babs and Ivy pretty well, keeping the tension between the two tight throughout the issue. I enjoyed the art for the most part, outside of the final season which was a different artist than Robert Gill, who I'm increasingly starting to believe should be the artist on this series going forward. I don't think Gill's work is perfect or anything, I just think he fits better than Pasarin, who is a good artist in his own right, I just don't think his style meshes well with the Gotham "feel," if you will. Also, perhaps it's an art inconsistency, but it's one I like... Back when Ivy was first introduced into the New 52, part of Jesus Saiz's original design was to have the whites of her eyes be black... and I love that look. It's since then been dropped, but I was happy to see it back here.

The Bad:

I thought Ivy's interest in Dr. Rain was a bit confusing/disappointing. She's got S.A.D., sure, it's probably way weirder for a person of Ivy's nature, but not a whole lot is done with it, other than Ivy looking and acting a bit different from season to season. Doesn't seem like something Rain could fix, but oh well, not a huge deal.

The opening scene with Babs and Dinah was weird to me, in the sense of it seems sort of like old Babs and Dinah relationship. We've barely gotten shit between them in The New 52 that supports the way Babs talks about Dinah in the beginning... We've gotten plenty of Pre-New 52 stuff that's along those lines, but... this ain't the Pre-New 52 universe. Not that I have a real problem with Babs and Dinah actually being friends, in fact I prefer it... I'm just pointing out the inconsistencies here. But you know what? Not this book's problem, nor is it it's fault that the other book hasn't done a good job of establishing anything worthwhile between the two characters in the New 52.

The Bottom Line:

For whatever reason, I've been enjoying Gail Simone's Batgirl way more recently than I have in prior years, and that streak continues as she picks up the slack that was left behind by Birds of Prey's wasted potential, and explores the personal, tension-filled relationship between Batgirl and Poison Ivy. Not only did I appreciate getting to see these two interact with each other on a one-on-one basis, but I also through the way the story was told throughout the seasons was very interesting as well. Overall, while not knowing what to expect from this particular issue, I came away from it having enjoyed it quite a bit.


1 comment :

  1. I liked Barbara and Ivy, so I of course liked this book. Great art, and good writing on Simone's part. I was happy to see the original, New 52 Birds.
    Speaking of the "other" book, Gail Simone needs to take over on and save that book and kick out Kristy Marx off.
    Birds of Prey needs a reboot, this annual issue was awesome!