Monday, January 20, 2014

Batgirl #27 - A Review And A Musing On Everything Wrong With DC Comics Today

Batgirl #27 veers away from the on-going saga of Barbara Gordon's personal problems and into the strange reality of Gothtopia.  Gothtopia, we are informed in an opening blurb, is a version of Gotham City which is the safest and happiest city in America.  A place where the sun is always shining, the air smells like warm root beer and the towels are oh-so fluffy! 

Yet even a place such as this needs vigilante superheroes... for some reason. So Barbara Gordon still fights crime in the world of Gothtopia but she does so under the name Bluebelle instead of Batgirl...despite her costume still having a bat on the chest and not a hint of blue.  Perhaps that's a nod to Mystery Men?

Gail Simone's script runs riot with the basic idea of a kinder, gentler Gotham.  Fans of the on-going series will be treated to a truly twisted version of Barbara Gordon's world, where her family life is happy, her boyfriend unhospitalized and her worst enemy is her best friend.  The villain - an ice cream company executive tormented by visions of the Gotham City we're more familiar with - is also an interesting exercise in building on the base concept of this world.

Robert Gill - best known for his work on various Grimm Fairy Tales comics - does a fair turn on the artwork.  Gill's style is light and sketchy, perfectly capturing the airy, bright attitude of Gothtopia.  His inks are limited to basic outlining, further adding to the cheery mystique.  Ironically, this appearance is completely at odds with the incredibly dark story which further enhances the emotional conflict between the Gotham we know and the Gotham before us. 

In the end, Batgirl #27 is an amusing diversion but it is still a diversion.  While I enjoyed this comic, it also serves to highlight my biggest problem with DC Comics today.  With some exceptions, it is all but impossible to enjoy just one title.  You have to read an entire line of comics to get the whole story - not just for special events but for basic month-to-month stories.  And the on-going stories of an individual title are too often subverted for the needs of a crossover. 

The drive to promote whole lines over individual books drove me off of Supergirl when it became more firmly tied to the Superman books and everything became about H'El on Earth rather than the story of a teenage girl coming to terms with life on a strange new world.  It drove me off of Constantine because I wanted to read about a magical con-man trying to bring down world-conquering threats with stealth and guile - not three months of tie-ins to Forever Evil and The Trinity War!  It drove me off of Green Lantern Corps when I could no longer read a simple ensemble space cop book without also being required to read Red Lanterns or New Guardians despite my having no interest in The Red Lanterns or Kyle Rayner: Great White Hope!  And it may yet drive me off of the Batman books I am still reading if the trend remains for Zero Year and Gothtopia and other diversionary storylines to dominate the entire Batman family of books.

In short: DC Comics - please let your writers write stories instead of storylines!

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