This is one of those books that I got a lot of enjoyment out of when I first read it, but when it came time to write the review and really scrutinize things I found myself like it less and less. Enjoying Batgirl #6 is dependent on how much of an annoying fanboy you really want to be and sadly I’m a pretty annoying fanboy. When I see Barbara hanging out at the library or Googling news stories on her laptop I can’t help but cry out “What about all that tech from when she was Oracle?” and when Batman tells her she was always meant to be Batgirl, I can’t just accept it as a sweet moment, I have this voice in my head that goes “What the hell happened to Stephanie Brown?!” But if you can hush that voice you’ll very likely savor every panel of this vibrantly colored team-up issue. For the rest of us who take these things too seriously, there’s an escalating list of aggravations to be addressed.
Batgirl’s missing hair
That sort of thing just shouldn’t happen. As the book passes between artists and editor, SOMEONE should raise their hand and point out that there should be some bright red hair coming out the back of that cowl.
Mother & daughter look too much alike
Seriously, they’re identical. In the last issue I had to keep track of their coats in order to distinguish them, but this time I had to remember who had their hair up and who didn’t.
We get it, your partner died in the first issue. His loss has hardly shaken Gotham’s foundation. Either devote more time to making me care about McKenna or don’t, but having her be this angry at Batgirl right now is just aggravating. McKenna seems rational enough, how can she possibly blame Batgirl for what Mirror did? That’s what happened, right? Didn’t Mirror shoot him or something? Speaking of shooting, in this issue McKeena tries to arrest Batgirl while Batgirl is trying to save a crowd of people from getting shot saying “leave it to the professionals”. Who is doing the shooting? The cops.
Having just read Batman & Robin: Dark Knight vs. White Knight over the weekend and then writing a full review on it, the story “A Sum of Her Parts” is still fresh in my mind. In that tale, Una Nemo is on a boat when she gets shot in the head and falls into polluted waters. She wakes up later on to find that her injury has instilled her with incredible powers and a strong sense of man-hate. From then on she calls herself Absence (because she has a hole in her head…and “absence” of head) and pursues a life of villainy. I hated that villain and I hated that arc. Today I open up Batgirl #6 and read the story of Lisly Bonner, a graduate of journalism school who starts hanging out with gangsters in an effort to uncover her first big scoop. Unsurprisingly, things turn sour. Lisly Bonner is on a boat when her treachery is discovered by the bad guys and they take her to the pier and shoot her. In the head. And she falls into polluted waters. She wakes up later on to find that her injury has instilled her with incredible powers and a strong sense of man-hate. From then on she calls herself Gretel (because…well I don’t really know why) and pursues a lifetime of villainy.
The Worst Villain Line, Yet
“Every bad thing that’s happened in this city lies at your feet. It feeds you like the diseased soil that bears poison fruit. Come into my house of candy and delight and burn forever!”
First of all, you’re Gretel. Not the witch. In the story of Hansel & Gretel the witch had the house of candy. Secondly, what the hell is that supposed to mean? And lastly, what’s she going to do? All we see is Gretel standing on a crane while shouting nonsense into a megaphone. Sure, she got a few cops to open fire, but that’s it.
She’s a Mercenary? Her?
How did Lisly the journalism student become a hit man for hire? Why would she become a hit man for hire? Her motives that are revealed at the end contradict the whole idea of being a mercenary. Or is the “hit man for hire” thing just Barbara’s incorrect assumption?
Barbara is known for being quite the acrobat, but it took some serious mental gymnastics to go from hearing the “338” chant, to seeing Gretel with a gun that only had 3 bullets, and then researching crimes that involved .38 caliber pistols and only 3 shots to discover Gretel’s identity. I guess she could have cross-referenced cases of that happening with the Boss Whittaker character from the last issue, but still. Taking the number 338 and deciding that it must mean three .38s is quite a leap. And of course, seeing her with only a laptop brings up questions about where all her tech went from her days as Oracle, if she was ever Oracle, and if she wasn’t Oracle, does that mean all other Batgirls never existed?
And with that… I think I’m done here. I honestly didn’t think I would have that much to go on and on about since I enjoyed the book at first glance, but…here we are. Still, although I found a lot of things to complain about in the end, I enjoyed this book. That’s probably hard to believe after that list of nerdrage, but it’s true. I guess it’s because Barbara and Batman are so damn likeable in this issue and the flashback moments show us a tender side of Batman that we never get to see anymore. Those scenes were touching and made me a bit sentimental. On the first reading I was able to set aside all these complaints about villains and grievances about what is or isn’t canon and just enjoy the ride. If you can do that, you’re probably going to like this issue, too because it’s a very fun book with characters that you actually care about. It just needs fewer captions that state the obvious and way, way better villains.