I guess I’ve always been a fan of Gail Simone’s Birds of Prey work. Not that I’ve been a regular reader, but when I find the odd trade at the library or over a friend’s place, I’ll give it a quick read. Birds of Prey Volume 1: Endrun became my prey, as it featured Hawk and Dove—by now you know that they are two of my favorites—joining up with the team of avian-themed lady crime-fighters.
There is a lot going on in this collection, ranging from a new villain from Black Canary’s past attempting to ruin her life all the while forming an uneasy alliance with the Penguin as the group are all considered to be fugitives of the save. There’s even a subplot with Oracle and two reformed criminals going on.
I guess the best part of this would be Birds of Prey #6, where Huntress fights Lady Shiva in a duel to the death with Huntress. The JLU cartoons really showed how awesome this character could be, and Simone’s take on the character is very similar. It’s a shame the Helena Bertinelli iteration of this character disappeared with the New 52.
Hawk and Dove didn’t get as much story time as I would have liked, but it worked. They’re pretty much brought into this story line to be supporting characters. Nothing to complain about there.
In all, it was a quick read. There’s lot of fighting scenes in this book; it’s a bit action packed. And if you like that, you should give this a try.
I didn’t read Batgirl #5 yet, but the sixth issue starts out with Bruce Wayne getting ready to clock Batgirl with a crowbar. That certainly got my attention.
Bruce was under the control of a new super villain called Gretel, whose use of mind control for lethal purposes and an obsession with killing powerful men is a huge problem. By Gotham City standards, you can’t get more manly or powerful than Bruce Wayne. So with some slick detective work and teaming up with Batman, our caped heroine is able to save the day.
If anyone needs more proof of why Gail Simone is a great writer, look no further. Gail uses a very simple, almost cliché plot of the hero preventing the murder of a public figure. But what she does with instead is uses it as a frame to contrast the two similar characters.
Both Gretel and Batgirl are survivors of gun violence. Gretel was a journalism student investigating a mob boss and wound up being shot, just as Batgirl was shot by the Joker back in The Killing Joke (which thankfully is still part of canon in the New 52).
What separates the two women is what happened afterwards. Gretel was left for dead and recovered on her own, becoming extremely vengeful. Batgirl was fortunate enough to have not only the love and support of her father but of Batman as well. It’s a pretty touching story and that exists in the confines of a single issue.
Finally…the last chapter of the first arc of Batgirl which has me so enamored. Barbara has figured out how to defeat the Mirror, the former DEA agent turned psycho murderer. Gail Simone does a great job in Barb’s narration of getting across the point that the only way she can defeat the Mirror is by outsmarting him.
And how does she do this? Two simple steps:
- She leaves a note at Mirror’s deceased family’s cemetery plot telling him how he has disgraced their memory and to meet her at an abandoned building.
- Once the Mirror is there, she distracts him with projected images and is able to strike the first blow.
Obviously she dispatches the Mirror; she is a super hero after all. But what I love most about this series is how Simone has made Batgirl into an underdog, as she doubts herself. Like in this issue, Batgirl prevents two robbers from mugging (and possibly worse) a couple of older adults. Simone builds the suspense in a way that when Batgirl saves the day, you feel proud of her for overcoming her fears and being a hero.
Since the issue came out in December, they even tie in a little bit of a Christmas plotline. Barb is enjoying a nice Christmas morning Alysia (who has become a great supporting character) when Barbara’s long missing mother makes her return. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in a comic before!
The art on this issue is by Ardian Syaf, and its great. It’s still very mainstream super hero style, but he draws the women in a way that’s not offensive to a female reader’s intelligence. Now I’m hooked and can’t wait for issue #5.
So as a holiday gift I was given the first three issues of the new Batgirl series. Barbara Gordon has spend nearly the last 20 years confined to a wheel chair. So how does the post-Flashpoint DC Universe fare for her?
Pretty good. The pain and horrors endured by the character in The Killing Joke still occurred. Writer Gail Simone does a great job working it into the character’s new continuity, with her having become a paraplegic after being shot by the Joker. One day she woke up, having the use of her legs again (Flashpoint!) and is going about getting her life back in order.
This leads to a problem for Barb; everyone thinks she’s pushing herself too hard, whether it be her father Commissioner Gordon worrying about her regaining her independence or her ex-boyfriend/bestfriend Nightwing concern about her taking up the Batgirl mantle again. Barb herself is nervous, as she’s not up to her old physical standards.
Things are made worse for her, as the crazed killer the Mirror is out for blood. He’s killing people he feels are wrongly still alive–including Batgirl and her father–and its up to stop his latest attempt of blowing up a whole subway train just to get his revenge!
That said, this has been the best of the new DC books. My hat’s off to Simone, as she has taken the best parts of having an established character and having a blank slate, combining them into something that is new yet familiar feeling.