Friday, September 02, 2011

A Farewell to Stephanie's Batgirl (Review of Batgirl 24)

The DC relaunch is upon us, but there is only one issue out from it this month and that makes a slow week for reviews so I figured I'd touch upon one of the books that is closing out. Batgirl. First off, let me put it out there that I absolutely love Stephanie Brown as Batgirl. So much so. I feel that with her as Batgirl it lead a very interesting dynamic to the Batman universe. She was plucky, clever, capable and lead a very interesting life and I, for one, am going to be extremely saddened to see her go. In fact, on her way out I admittedly welled up a tiny bit, but more on that moment later. Anyways, on to the book.

First off, I'm going to point out that from this point on this article will have (no pun intended):
Get it? Spoiler? Eh forget it.

I've been reading practically all of DC for the last year or so and I've seen a bunch of books closing out for the upcoming relaunch and, with few exception, have I seen an artist show so much love for a character they're bidding farewell too as much as Bryan Q. Miller.

He starts the book off immediately continuing the conversation at the end of issue 23 between Stephanie and her father, The Cluemaster. Personally, I've never cared for the Cluemaster. In a world where characters like ever Bwana Beast and Gypsy can find their way, I've found NO point in Cluemaster's existence. But Miller really uses that to this characters advantage to make a deadbeat character you couldn't like if you tried. Which works because you find yourself right there with Stephanie in her anger.

But the story does kind of take an odd turn. Out of no where they show a canister in Cluemaster's cell that contains Black Mercy. That's right, the space plant that locks you in a coma as you live out your wildest fantasies and wishes. In Cluemaster's jail cell. For NO reason. Because...comics.

No seriously. What IS he talking about?

He does some silliness where he takes the plant out of the container, which Batgirl does not stop. Then he puts it in a mortal and pestle, which Batgirl does not stop. Then grinds it into a fine powder, which Batgirl doesn't stop. Then proceeds to calmly blow the dust into Batgirl, taking her out and making her live out her every wish in her mind. Not the most realistic plan a villain could hope to pull off, but, luckily, for some reason Stephanie did absolutely nothing to prevent this. She does manage to stop him before she blacks out completely but, without spoiling how I will say that she has a gadget that makes no sense what-so-ever and leave it at that.

Where the book picks up is when Stephanie wakes up in a hospital with her mom sitting near by. This is where the book suddenly gains Charm+10 with a chance to crit. There's a whole back and forth conversation between the two where the mom is, essentially, screwing with her daughter, making Stephanie think that maybe her mom still doesn't know she's Batgirl and it's the cutest conversation I've read in a long while. The dialogue that the book's writer, Bryan Miller, pens, and they way he has Stephanie (and in this case her mother) express herself is the main selling point that this book has held for me for the last two years.

Needless to say, the mom knows, they hug. And then came the moment when I realized the book was becoming self aware of it's mortality. Stephanie looks out the window to see Damian on a ledge, the "camera" zooms in and then this happens:

I almost lost it. This was the aforementioned moment when I said I welled up a bit. There was Damian, the biggest jerk in the DC Universe (but in such a fun way), saluting Stephanie. It's another right out of left field moment but it hit me remarkably hard.

After that, the book goes splash page for a while as Stephanie thinks about what she say whilst under the Black Mercy. Splash page after splash page of everything from Stephanie as a mom to Stephanie as a college grad to (my personal favorite) Stephanie as a Blue Lantern (with Damian as a Red and Oracle as a Green). These pages are just fun what-ifs and, while very powerful in there own way, also show off book artist, Pere Perez's gorgeous art style.

And finally, after all that's over and because the book has a longer ending than the Lord of the Rings film, we cut to a roof top where Stephanie and Babs (Oracle) are talking on the roof of some random building. It's almost as charming as the mother/daughter chat from earlier and the addition of Gotham's pollution (as it's explained) making the sunrise purple, almost in honor of Batgirl, was such a charming send off.

All in all, while the book has a bit of a rocky start, it contains an extremely well put together send off for one of the best characters that DC's putting on the back burner. The art is good. The writing is good. And, as I mentioned before, Miller's love for the character practically sweats off the page. A fact that becomes self aware when Stephanie practically tells the viewer the following statement with a wink. A statement I will end the review on:

Take care of yourself Stephanie, you amazing, amazing Batgirl you.

By Electric Nerd with No comments


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