Friday, November 15, 2013

Batgirl, Volume 3: Death of The Family

I think I'm officially throwing in the towel on "The New 52:....

 I'll still follow a few books, I'm sure, and I still have a lot of unread "New 52" content in my stacks, but...it just ain't for me. DC wanted new readers, and I get that, but they pushed this old reader out. The revised continuity nags at me, the constant swerves and changes of direction and creative teams, thanks to editorial interference...it's all adding up to a big "meh" for me. Which will be my cue to get back to the title at hand, BATGIRL, VOLUME 3: DEATH OF THE FAMILY.

 This volume picks up where the last one left off: With Barbara Gordon's Mother being abducted by The Joker's henchmen. Or that 's where it WOULD have picked up, if not for the odd placement of the story from BATGIRL ANNUAL #1, which comes first, and then is abruptly followed up the the resumption of the cliffhanger from Volume 2. Then it's off to yet another of DC's endless, labyrinthine crossovers, as we leap into DEATH OF THE FAMILY, which sees The Joker attempting to...I dunno. Kidnap and do something to Batman's associates to piss him off. (He gets all of them, and proceeds to do absolutely nothing to any of them.) The Batgirl issues are followed in this volume by the the conclusion of the storyline from Scott Snyder's BATMAN...I applaud DC for attempting to give readers an actual conclusion to the story, something that their spotty collected editions have NOT been good at doing lately. But it's a jarring change in tone and style, and it's sure to confuse and confound readers who aren't fully attuned to every nuance of these gijundo crossovers. Next up is Writer Gail Simone's weak rehash of a story that Scott Snyder just did a few years ago, and much better, in DETECTIVE COMICS (Collected in BATMAN: THE BLACK MIRROR..), which sees Commissioner Gordon's psychotic son James Jr. return to menace his family.

 This is all very sloppily done, which is disappointing, because when Simone fires on all cylinders, she can be amazing. I just wrapped up SECRET SIX, another Simone book that was a favorite of mine, and it was so lackluster and rushed that I was actually happy that the book was cancelled. Simone had clearly run out of gas there...here, it's like the tank was empty before she even got started. BATGIRL, after three volumes, is still failing to connect with me on any level, and that's pathetic, because Barbara Gordon was, in the old DCU, one of my favorite characters. I recall a big internet furor last year, where Simone was sneakily fired by DC, and then she raised a fuss and cried sexism, and DC basically said "No, no, big misunderstanding!!! You still have a job!". I think it would have been better if she moved on....this isn't a bad book, but it does just kind of lay there and quietly slink from plot point to plot point. It's mostly dull, which is sometimes worse than being actively bad....

(Spoilery rants ahead.....)















 There's a really awkward scene where Barbara's roommate reveals that she's transgender, which brings the whole conclusion to a grinding halt. What was the purpose of that hamfisted reveal...? There was no way that that information could have come out organically, rather than as a "DC has gay/lesbian/transgender characters!! Put us on the news!" attention grab, which is what it comes across as? Also, there's a mind-blowing attempt to mush Grant Morrison's BATMAN INCORPORATED continuity more firmly into "The New 52", and it made me groan. Barbara is told that Robin is dead, and she pretty much goes "Eh, I don't give a fuck.".....and how the hell did the massive war depicted in Morrison's book not cause even the slightest ripple in THIS book....? Sometimes you need to step back and just let the reader reconcile these events in their own minds. Calling attention to them just makes them look stupid. (Like when we see a Marvel movie, and when the hero is on the ropes, my Wife will lean over and say "Why Doesn't Thor/Iron Man/whoever just call The Avengers?" BECAUSE, that's why. They're busy or something. just accept that they aren't there, and move on.) Calling attention to this supposed massive, destructive war between Batman and Leviathan, and not having the slightest bit of fallout in BATGIRL was just dopey.They should have just quietly moved past it.

 I have not the slightest desire to see what comes next for Barbara Gordon, and that really makes me sad. You broke my heart, DC.....