Review: Batgirl #3

Batgirl

Batgirl‘s opening arc, ending with this issue, was brief and uninspired.  That’s not to say it was bad; it was inoffensive enough, if nothing else.  In it, Stephanie proved herself worthy of becoming the next Batgirl in Barbara’s eyes, got a new costume, took one college course, and had it tie (thematically) directly into her case.  We know it tied in to her case thematically because Miller, over the course of this issue, tells us so.  More than once.

Garbett continues to turn in respectable work.  His style is a little too broad for some of the book’s more dramatic moments and the Scarecrow sequences were relatively bland, but he maintains a level of quality that the book needs.

Batgirl is a reasonably acceptable standard superhero book.  It has its share of narrative flaws, but when it comes right down to it, it isn’t trying to do anything terribly complex.  It’s straightforward plotting is hampered by inconsistent characterization; it’s action sequences by a lack of compelling build-up or follow-through.  Fans of Stephanie Brown may enjoy the hero’s rise to prominence and the journey to restore and bolster her confidence, but most readers can find the same content in a hundred other places.

Grade: C-

– Cal Cleary

Read/RANT

Batgirl #2

Review: Batgirl #2

Batgirl2

If there was one word to describe Batgirl #1, it was probably this: average.  It had reasonably  competent action sequences, but suffered in the character-driven drama. Even if you hadn’t read enough past Bat-books to see how horrendously out-of-character Barbara Gordon was, say, or Cassandra Cain especially, the fact of the matter is that the characters weren’t terribly interesting.  Except for Stephanie, of course, which is vital to why the book was readable at all.

Batgirl #2 continues along the same trend.  It is, in fact, almost the exact same issue.  Stephanie is having trouble balancing her normal life with her new career as Batgirl – and, in a much better twist on the same old idea, having just as much trouble adjusting to the new dangers and responsibilities of being Batgirl over being the Spoiler – Babs is trying to convince her to quit, Stephanie’s mom is oblivious, crime is happening.  There isn’t a whole lot going on, but at least what’s going on has the potential to be interesting.

Garbett is faring slightly better.  His illustration throughout is clean and crisp, with solid, fluid fight scenes.  There’s on scene in the middle that’s a little tough to follow, though I don’t know if that’s Miller, Garbett, or an indicator of a communications issue between the two.  Still, Garbett’s workmanlike skill is currently holding the book up.

Still, there are flashes of a genuinely enjoyable comic in here.  The action is well-handled, and there are interesting characters here… assuming that Miller ever gets a handle on them.  Batgirl #2 continues to be purely average, but given some of the recent Batgirl publications we’ve seen, that may be the best we can expect for now.  I’m willing to give Miller an arc to grow into the character.  Right now, it could go either way.

Grade: C

– Cal Cleary

Read/RANT

Bruce Castle Presents: Batman vs. Daredevil!

Large Cover of Batman #683

Batman #683 (****)

Morrison’s retelling continues. We get to see the shirtless Neal Adams Batman again. The world gets darker for Bruce. The issue ends promising the Dark Knight’s last adventure in Final Crisis #6, but as Morrison has proved over the last few years, Batman can’t die. Even in this issue, Batman continues to beat everyone. It doesn’t matter that Dark Space Gods are trying to screw with his brain, he’s Batman. He’ll always win. He can even make his enemies turn against each other. One of the many gems in this issue is an alternate reality where Bruce never dressed up like a bat. Do you remember that great episode of the 90’s cartoon? It’s kind of like that. Bruce is a bit of a pansy. He even gets conned. Oh, and something bad happens to Dick. Heck, the Joker doesn’t even exist. It’s kind of the Batman version of “It’s a Wonderful Life”. This is a fitting end to at least the first chapter of Morrison’s Batman epic.

Large Cover of Daredevil #114 (Villain Variant)

Daredevil #114 (****1/2)

We’re half way there. I still don’t know how this will end. What I do know is that this is Brubaker’s best Daredevil arc. Matt continues to get dragged through the muck. There is no happiness. There is no hope. Every glimmer of happiness gets ripped away from him. He even thinks about living in a cave in this issue. Get away from the people he cares about and just be Daredevil full time. Will he lose Milla soon? Will he lose Dakota? And I haven’t even talked about his villain problems yet. Along with the main players, an additional cast of interesting characters are present. Heck, we even get a new villain. I’m still not sure how I feel about Lady Bullseye yet. All she’s had to be so far is threatening. At least she’s achieved that. So if you’ve thought about getting back into Daredevil’s whacky adventures, now is the time.

Bruce Castle Presents: Batman vs. Hellboy!

 Batman #682 (Variant Cover Edition)

Batman #682 (****1/2)

So how do you know if you’ll like this issue? One question. Do you like Morrison’s previous Batman issues? Once you answer that, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how much you’ll enjoy this tie-in. And it is, as you can see in that creepy cover, a Final Crisis tie-in. Is it an important tie-in? It’s hard to say. I don’t think we’ll know until Final Crisis #6, the “Final Fate of the Dark Knight”. It definitely references Final Crisis. In the most non spoilery way, what happened to Batman in Final Crisis? If you know that, you can guess what this issue is about. Wow, I asked you a lot of questions, didn’t I? I really enjoyed this issue. It’s another zany tale involving symbolism and Morrison’s retelling of some classic Batman stories. The opening page is darkness followed by a close up of Bruce’s face and it is scarred. He’s in a military uniform as well. Isn’t that a cool first image after RIP? Alfred picks up the classic bat that flew in through the window when it’s small. By the time he throws it in the trash, it is huge. That’s Bob Kane’s Batman transforming into Frank Miller’s Batman in three panels. I don’t want to spoil anything, but hopefully you have enough information to decide to buy this or not. That’s what I’m here for.

The Wild Hunt #1

Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #1 (****1/2)

This is the beginning of the longest Hellboy story ever. Well, maybe not. I just found out that the next few issues (Maybe all of them except this one) will contain back-up stories that will shorten the length of the main story. A bit of a bummer, but oh well. 2008 was (That’s right, it’s over) a great year for Hellboy. A new movie (I really enjoyed it, didn’t you?), a new three issue series, a new Mignola drawn one-shot, and the start of an eight issue series. I’m a happy man. This was a fantastic start. I should probably rate it higher, oh well. Unlike this year’s earlier Hellboy tale, The Crooked Man, Wild Hunt should move Hellboy’s journey forward. This is a first issue, so we get kind of a crash course on Hellboy’s history and that’s fine. The conclusion was the best part. A premise is established and then things turn upside down. I want to know where this is going. I have no idea and that’s a very good thing.