Birds Of Prey: Ending Low

February 19th, 2009 by | Tags: , , , , ,

While Robin ends with Tim Drake coming into his own as a hero, Birds of Prey finishes with Barbara Gordon losing her identity.

At the end of the series, Babs has to blow up her second headquarters in two years.  She’s faced the Joker again, only to get knocked around.  She’s faced Calculator and seen him literally attain new heights while she’s left in the dust.  Her team is hated in their new town, and while they manage to disperse the criminal syndicate they were running, they can’t shut it down.  She’s lost a friend, possibly permanently.  All in all, this is a low point for her.

The different approaches to the two series make sense.  Tim is a young hero and former sidekick, so his series need to see him reach a new level of independence and maturity.  Babs is well-established, and has to find some new direction.  Her new direction is hinted at in the upcoming mini-series, Oracle: The Cure.  I know, I know, the name is supposed to be a reference to curing a sick little girl.  Still, either Babara Gordon is going to record a cover of Boys Don’t Cry, or DC is teasing us with the possibility that Babs is going to walk again and Cassandra Cain is going to have a little battle for her own cowl.

I hate being brought face-to-face with my bias as a comics reader.  The Robin series ended in a way which I didn’t approve of, but which made sense dramatically.  Tim Drake became a competent and autonomous hero while having to give up some of the things he’d loved as a child.  Couple that with the death of his last parental figure and you’ve got a strong, archetypal coming-of-age story.  I hate it.

Barbara Gordon quitting the team she established and nurtured, leaving a kid she semi-adopted, walking again, giving up her identity as Oracle and possibly stepping back into the shadow of the bat is wrong.  It’s backwards motion, it’s erasing her identity, it’s losing her place in a larger universe.  And yet I cannot find it within myself to hate it.  I’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t happen.   I need it.  I love it.  I want it. 

I want fun!  I want the original Batgirl and her adventures.  At the very least I want more mini-series!

There is a lot to be said for comics that are committed to a story, rather than bowing to popular opinion.  But honestly, I don’t want to take my comics the way I take multi-vitamins.  If there’s an Oracle mini, I’ll be there.  If it breaks in the middle to make Barbara Gordon Batgirl again, I’ll be there and tearing at the shelves.  Pander to me, DC.  Pander to me.

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6 comments to “Birds Of Prey: Ending Low”

  1. You know, I was just at Mightygodking’s blog before I came here, and a line that stuck out for me in his “Blue Boys” post was that DC has a tendency to fetishize their own history. It can range between cameos of silver age stars to straight up resurrections of people who died for realz. If a story concept was enjoyed ten, twenty years ago, then it should be repeated again to catch that lightning in the bottle again.

    For me, as much as I enjoy the occasional bone thrown toward me at a plotline I enjoyed (Hey it’s Siren! In a Deadpool comic!), but I’ve also come to terms with realizing how it could be a snake eating its own tail for comics. I mean, haven’t we already seen the effects of this “everything old is new again” philosophy in recent years? Oh, wow, Magneto’s dead. Sure. Oh, hey, Superman’s dad stroked out. Again. Woo, Supergirl’s back, and her skirt is shorter than ever.

    As a business, I understand DC wants to publish what they are reasonably sure will make them money, so I don’t blame them entirely. If this is what fans have proven they want to buy then they’d be stupid to ignore it. But they don’t move forward either as a company, and bringing back Blue Beetle II can’t help bring in new customers.

    It’s a complicated issue, one balanced with off-kilter writing and very subjective views on what is iconic and what is acceptable change. If we want change but keep buying “SAME 2.0,” then we’re going in circles.

  2. I want Babs to do anything other than 1) Be Batgirl 2) Date Dick Grayson. For all the reasons you enumerated above. And others.

    I’m also, even as a short term fan of comic books, tired already of DC circling back around in all their books. And doing it in multiple books all at once? BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

    Pander to ME, DC. To ME.

  3. @Dane: It’s true. But it seems to me, right now at least, that it’s a matter of selective memory. Out of all the retro-stuff that doesn’t work for you, you remember the one retro-thing that does.

    Another problem, though, is how the constant retrospection will bring in new readers.

    @ACK: I’m okay with 2, as long as she can date Ted Kord.


  4. you can have the original batgirl and her fun adventures without it being produced as part of the ongoing *groan* continuity of the universe y’know

    well i mean i know that, and you know that, but i guess dc doesn’t

  5. I will approve of Batgirl coming back if and only if she wears Yvonne Craig’s old suit and they never do a “Oh no! The Joker! My spine twinges because I remember when I was shot!” scene.

  6. @Esther Inglis-Arkell: Mad*woman*, maybe!

    I would love to see Barbara with Ted Kord. He was a wonderful character and it’s a pity they killed him just as he came to exemplify and justify the unsuperman.