Batgirl #4 Play-by-Play

November 11th, 2009 by | Tags: , , ,

Let’s start this review with a look at Batgirl #7.  What’s that you say?  It’s only issue four?  I don’t care.  We need to look at this awesomeness.


Now, to issue four.

We start with Stephanie studying while her mother asks her if she’s sure she doesn’t want some air.  Stephanie tells her mom that she needs to get her homework done since “The first few nights are always the hardest.”

Cue the terrifyingly Batman and Robin-like suiting up of Stephanie in the new Batgirl suit.  I’m just going to assume that was a deliberate parody, and pray that it wasn’t an homage.  Barbara, sporting a nice, tendrily up-do and an (sigh) unbuttoned shirt, tells Stephanie that Barbara will be able to monitor her heartrate and blood pressure from the cave.  Stephanie asks her if she put in an ipod jack as well.

Barbara:  “I suppose you’ll just have to hum.”

Okay, heee.  But even heee-er?  At first I thought Barbara said “I suppose I’ll just have to hum.”  Which sounds both funny and sweet until you realize that Oracle is entirely capable of doing her duties while going, ‘Meow meow meow meow.  Meow meow meow meow.  Meow meow meow meow MEOW meow meow meow.’

Readers.  I somehow managed to miss-type all of those ‘meows’, and yet I kept going.  So I really hope you know the tune to that.

And the next panel is funny.  Guys in full black suits and rappelling gear are literally lifting *bags of money* out of a building.  Stephanie grabs two of them and swoops down – only to land on a sightseeing bus with her ass in the air while people take pictures. 

Barbara:  “At least they got your good side.”

Babs.  You are on fire tonight.

A young girl tells Stephanie to keep up the good work.  Stephanie literally wonders what she can do in response to *positive* reinforcement, which is funny, but also meta in a sad way.  Stephanie decides to wink and swoop away.

The city completely blacks out.  Could there be an unexpected complication on our young hero’s first night?  That’s crazy!

Back at the Gotham Police station, Sergeant Picklejaropener – okay, no way am I typing that name over and over.  Remind me to give characters short cutesy nicknames in future.  I’ll just have to go with his real name, which is Nick.  Nick gripes about the computers going out.  Gordon tells him they have an emergency out at Monarch Meadows . . . which judging from the puns is a baseball stadium.

Oracle has abandoned her post in response to a call from Leslie Thompkins.  Wendy Harris (Calculator’s daughter) has broken into her clinic and is trying to rehabilitate herself without authorization.  Leslie mentions that she has The Cavalier as security which:


Really?  Really, Leslie?

Anyway, Babs suggests to Wendy that she try talking to the Teen Titans, but Wendy says she can’t go back.  “What kind of stupid superhero rolls around in a wheelchair?”  Oof.  Maybe you shouldn’t piss her off, Wendy.  She *will* meow at you.  (Yes.  I miss-typed the ‘meow’ again.)  At last, though, Wendy collapses and cries.  “Why did Marvin have to go, too?”

Wendy, he was named ‘Marvin’.  I’m guessing he died of old age just from that name, and this is coming from a woman named ‘Esther’.

On Skid Row a man hides behind some crates clutching a purse in the foreground while on a crane behind him, Stephanie yells out, “I just want to talk!”  Nothing happens.  She follows it up with, “Guess you really called my bluff, huh?”  Oh, cheery banter and human empathy!  How I have missed you in comic books lately!  She takes down the guy, gets the purse, and rummages through it for ID.  When she sees it, her face falls.

Stephanie’s mother complains to some police officers.  “All I wanted was a cup of coffee and the mugger took that, too.”  Oh, that’s cold, dude.  In the next panel, the purse flies down and hits the windows behind her.  Chucking purses.  I guess that’s one way to keep an identity secret.

Monarch Meadows:  Oh!  Called it right!  Baseball!  A charred corpse lies in the middle of the field.  Nick n’ Jim figure out that he fell from above, hit the stadium lights, and bounced on the grass.  A corpse out of mid-air?  Oh no.  Not Con Air.  Not again.  We’re not strong enough, lord.  Don’t test us.

Back in Gotham proper, there’s suddenly a bright light.  It’s Livewire!  Nick n’ Jim take cover.  Nick opines that this isn’t even Livewire’s town.

“Damn right it ain’t!”  Stephanie swoops by, and in mid-air, in what can be considered a chaste forties pin-up pose, waves to Nick.  “Hey you!”

Okay.  That.  That’s adorable.  That’s just fun and campy and cutesy in a good way and adorable.  I love it, although Jim gives Nick crap for it.

Stephanie fights Livewire, in a quite cool page that has all diagonal panels.  Most of the time, that would be distracting, but the action and the set up work enough that I didn’t even notice it until my second read-through.  All I noticed was the action flowing.  Well done Tim Levins and Lee Garbett.  Well done.

Livewire yells, “You may be quick . . . But you’re not faster than LIGHTNIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIinnnnnnnnnnng.”  Her voice hilariously dies out as they both realize that Stephanie’s batsuit is insulated.  Oh well, Livewire.  You had a good run.  KA-POWWW.

As the sun rises, Babs and Stephanie look out over Gotham and banter tiredly.

Ah.  Now *that’s* what I’m talking about.  Fun, funny, action-filled comics.


Interesting Irrelevant Detail:  Although Barbara Gordon and Sergeant Nick have never met, every single conversation that Jim Gordon has with Nick manages to wedge in Barbara somehow.  (This time around, it’s Jim talking about how Babs convinced him to make the police station green, dispensing with carbon paper and moving to computers.)  It’s a subtle, surprisingly effective build-up without being forced.  Good job, Bryan Q Miller.

Suckiness Advisory Warning:  Hm.  This is a pretty all-around-good issue.  There is still a touch of the formula to the book, but it’s a good formula.  It allows for fun and action and many different characters. 

Overall Awesomeness Level:  This book is good, now, but awesome?  There are a few awesome moments, the fly-by-flirt being my favorite since it seems to embrace the lightheartedness, the action and the sexiness of the original Batgirl concept.  They (thank god) haven’t re-introduced that douchebag at Stephanie’s school as a love interest.  And Damian’s on the way.  And again, look at that first cover.

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16 comments to “Batgirl #4 Play-by-Play”

  1. I came into this series not expecting to like it. Expecting to hate it, in fact, even though I’m a Steph fan. Wasn’t huge on the last three issues either. But this one…wow. This one sold me. It was charming and sweet, without the artificial angst and darkness that infests so many other super hero books. May it have a long, profitable run!

  2. @Asher: I know! Who would have thought the book would be good when reading issue #2? But here it is.

  3. I’ve got to say, I was pretty surprised by how much I enjoyed this comic. I just hope they don’t continue down this “Aw shucks, I’m just a regular ol’ girl doin’ what she can with a bat-symbol” road TOO far, though, or she’ll end up as the Sarah Palin of superheroes.

  4. con air is an excellent movie.
    nic cage sounds like a Goddamn elvis impersonator, malkovitch hold a gun the stuffed toy bunny, and yes, dave chappell is pushed out of con air.
    and danny trejo!

  5. @edc: Con Air made Nicholas Cage an action star. National Treasure. Ghost Rider. Knowing.

    My god, man. Do the means justify the ends?

  6. No, no, no. The Rock, which came out a year before Con Air, is what made Nicholas Cage an action star. As with so many things, the blame rests with Michael Bay. At least Face/Off was good.

  7. Oh my God – they still publish this?

  8. @AlLoggins: It’s not like DC doesn’t have a history of publishing worthless comics.

    Why is Batgirl fighting Superman villains? The new Batman, Batwoman and even Red Robin get their own bad guys, why does Batgirl have to settle for other superheroes’ third stringers?

  9. @Des: Fighting other hero’s villains is a standard comics thing– Daredevil’s best villain is a cast-off Spider-Man villain, for example.

    Honestly, a chick whose entire gimmick is “rides a rocket, sometimes steals things” is a better fit for Batgirl than for Superman.

    Aren’t Red Robin’s bad guys all Ra’s al Ghul sidekicks? Nobodies?

  10. @david brothers: Oh, I realize that, but using your example, Daredevil still has villains of his own. With Batgirl they haven’t made much of an effort to give her any original bad guys to fight. It doesn’t give the comic much of an identity. If its identity is supposed to be “stars female characters, isn’t immensely gory and depressing”, then that says more about the dire state superhero comics are in than any real positive qualities of the book.

    Also, I was referring to her fight with Livewire in this issue, not the upcoming Roxy Rocket one, which does have the potential to be fun. In this issue though, Livewire is just randomly in Gotham with no explanation (sure, she’s stealing electricity from a power plant, but why Gotham specifically?), and it seemed like the writer was struggling to find something for Batgirl to do. She mainly gets defeated due to her own stupidity (flying directly above a fire hydrant despite knowing water is her weakness), so it doesn’t even make Steph look cool.

    Red Robin fights Al Ghul goons, but they do have personalities, and from what I’ve read Yost is setting up a new assassin character as a nemesis. I’m not a huge fan of the book, but it does feel a lot less generic than Batgirl so far.

  11. livewire fight was neat

  12. […] An oldie but a goodie. In honor of our Batgirl-centric fourcast and Esther’s latest Batgirl play-by-play, I wanted to post one of my favorite sequences from Batgirl: Death […]

  13. Steph only got the cowl because DC had ran out of young females to put in it, and since they did such a good job of pissing away the massive amount of goodwill for its previous occupant I’m not obliged to give this title the benefit of the doubt when it’s not even an average read, let alone an objectively good one as it was during Cassie Cain’s initial tenure (before she went wangsty).

    I know there’s a lot of fangirl and fanboy goodwill for the Batgirl brand, but I think it’s wasted here.

  14. “Livewire yells, “You may be quick . . . But you’re not faster than LIGHT-NIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIinnnnnnnnnnng.” Her voice hilariously dies out as they both realize that Stephanie’s batsuit is insulated. Oh well, Livewire. You had a good run. KA-POWWW.”

    doesn’t batgirl’s mask leave her face exposed? insulation shouldn’t help against that.

  15. Actually, if her boots are insulated, wouldn’t she be fine?
    I’m honestly not sure, I really should’ve paid more attention in Physics.

  16. Although I think discussing physics in comics is quite redundant:
    For the victim to suffer an electric shock a voltage is needed. If her whole suit is insulated the only way in and out for lightning is her not covereded face; thus no voltage, no electric shock, no effect. If only her boots were insulated the electricity could for example enter her face run through her body jump out of her leg bypassing the insulated boots and enter the ground. Thus the point of entry is not the same as the exiting one resulting in voltage and a crispy fried Steph.