When I was a kid, my mother encouraged us to read, but comic books were verboten in my household. I’m not sure why my mother hated them, but on the rare occasion we acquired one (usually from an aunt or friend), we had to guard it carefully. Mickey Mouse was okay, but John Carter from Mars disappeared mysteriously one day and shredded pieces of it were later found in our backyard after a wind that blew our trash cans over.

The rare exception was each summer when we went camping in the mountains in New Mexico. We loaded up the camper and headed out, and at some point we stopped for gas and my brothers and I were each allowed to choose one comic book. I always picked whatever annual happened to be on the rack. Because the annual was going to give you more bang for your buck and you were almost guaranteed not to have a cliffhanger for which (in my household) you would never find out the ending!

I’m not sure annuals these days offer the same promise. And if you’re wondering why I have been telling you about this little Memory Lane moment, it’s because Batgirl and Supergirl is a perfect case in point.

This annual has two stories of nearly equal length, which means they basically shoved two comics together into a single book. The second story is a Batgirl solo story and it’s a one-and-done (we’ll get to that in a minute). The first story is the Batgirl/Supergirl story and it’s…continued in the Supergirl and Batgirl Annual.

I already feel robbed.

The whole reason I enjoy an annual is because it stands outside the regular narrative continuity. You get to sample the characters in a larger, more sprawling adventure, and you get to just enjoy a one-and-done story. But this is not a one-and-done and it’s sharing half its page length with another unrelated tale, and that’s really not what I want to spend $5 on.

No sir, no ma’am.

So already this book has irritated me. Now let’s look at the content.

Uninspired title is uninspired

In the first story, written by current Batgirl series regular Hope Larson and drawn by Inaki Miranda (pencils and inks), this happens:

Bye-bye little birdie!

Yeah, that’s Batgirl and Supergirl too filled with superheroic ennui to bother, you know, catching the bad guy!

I honestly have no idea what Larson was thinking. It’s bad enough they’re in California and being all BFF, but are they stoned out of their minds as well?

The story improves a little after this total filler of an introduction, and the justification for these two working together almost makes sense, but Batgirl hacking Wayne tech (even if she was the programmer herself) almost makes no sense at all. Why would she code a backdoor? Deliberately! And if she did, of course Bruce would seal it. This could have been more easily solved with the more simple explanation: Supergirl was trying to do this under the radar and Babs had to just hack the system. That would have made Babs looks smart. Instead we get an over-confident noob who comes off dumber than a box of bricks.

From there we have crazy experimenting, we have mysterious Kryptonian-spouting ice-spewing walking disasters, and we have the BFFs trying to solve some kind of lab mystery. Maybe it could be exciting, but I’m too irritated by the dangling ending to actually care. Maybe after Supergirl and Batgirl comes out I’ll reconsider.

The frost thing was definitely cool (and I mean that, though pun accepted as well!)

Props to Miranda for making the story at least visually interesting. The character look young without being children, ans, as noted above, the wintery effects are kind of nifty.

Our second story is written by Vita Ayala and features art from Eleanora Carlini, who I think is just right for a spunky young hero book. But most of this comic is just played up comedy about Babs trying to negotiate the shark-infested waters of her social life:

Does anyone remember when Babs and Alysia were the best friends ever? Because I don’t. They were roommates who kept secrets from each other. Then Alysia moved in with Jo and Babs took up with Frankie. But nope: here they’re such intensely best friends that wrecking a “friend-date” to be a detective superhero would destroy the country and cause a giant gaping sucking void to open and consume all the possibility of friendship for all people for all time.

Do people really take Friendversaries this seriously? For that matter, who actually celebrates these things?

Whatever. So, Babs decides to take Alysia on a mission–you know, the kind where we’re supposed to be believe that people could actually, you know, get killed and stuff.

And stuff happens. But no one gets killed, nor do we ever even worry about them getting killed because there is zero tension in this book.

Anyway, you get the idea. This just isn’t good. It’s frivolous, the villain is a ridiculous muscle-bound mustache twirler (sans mustache), and Babs takes him out with moves she explains away to Alysia as resulting from replacement training for her exercise classes.

All the while somehow on a communication connection with Frankie (you know, to heighten the comedy!).

Look, I have nothing against a funny comic book or even a silly scenario, but this passed up a chance to be clever and just went for obvious and easy, so it feels lazy at best. Perhaps that’s what’s unforgivable. It’s practically a full comic-book-length story that is pure wheel-spinning inconsequential garnish.

And maybe I’m out of touch with the world, but I don’t care about Alysia and I especially don’t care about the way she’s been cast as this needy emotional wreck lately. To say nothing of Babs capitulating to this nonsense.

Give me heroes.

Give me people I can admire, something to which one can aspire.

DC continues to set the bar way too low for Batgirl.

Sigh.

Recommended If…

  • You like chick flicks and spandex.
  • But mostly just chick flicks.

Overall

This one’s a big fail for me on a number of fronts: the baited marketing, the lackluster stories, and maybe especially Barbara Gordon, genius Batgirl, recast as bumbling dwidiot. DC seems to keep wanting to tell us that Batgirl isn’t as smart as we expect her to be, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why. Save your shekels. This one may entertain the Burnside fans and people who like Babs Gordon’s life to be rife with personal drama, but it’s a snoozer for a superhero comic and really only has some occasionally nice high-energy art going for it in my opinion.

SCORE: 4.5/10