COVERGIRL: Another Bat in water. Where Batwoman had the upper hand, Batgirl’s up to her neck.
Curious as to why she’s drowning, but otherwise left cold. Last issue’s cover was so simple and stunning, this issue’s cover was doomed to meh.
INSIDE STORY: Batgirl spars, physically and verbally, with her friend Dinah, aka Black Canary, a superhero blessed with a strong mind, a kung-fu fist, and a soft spot for Green Lantern. Dinah knows that Batgirl’s not giving it her all, and she encourages her friend to rid herself of the emotional block that’s holding her back.
Dinah delivers a pep talk, a smack to the upside of Barbara’s head, and finally a challenge: Get back to your bad, good Batgirl self and go catch this guy Grotesque that needs catching.
Batgirl catches Grotesque, wearing a tux and a gargoyle mask, at a swanky birthday party. Our new villain, strangely shoeless and bearing a passing resemblance to Bruce Wayne, kills the sexagenarian birthday boy, sucks energy from the light fixtures, and descends into the sewers. Barbara follows, managing to take out a few masked Grotesque confederates but failing to capture the big guy.
Though the villain’s escaped to die another day, Batgirl seems to have regained her stride … until she rips the mask off a fallen Grotesque underling. She knows him. He was with the Joker the day the Joker shot her. Paralyzed her. Robbed her not only of her legs, but her superhero mojo as well.
Also, Barbara Gordon’s mother Barbara Gordon shows up at James Gordon’s office after a 9-year absence. James Gordon is Barbara Gordon’s husband. James Gordon and Barbara Gordon have two children, James Gordon and Barbara Gordon. Why did Barbara desert James, Barbara and James Gordon nine years ago? Because of James Gordon. Junior. Why did Barbara Gordon and James Gordon name their children Barbara Gordon and James Gordon? One for the ages. Gordon.
RAMBLE: Gail Simone has gifted Barbara Gordon with a distinct, identifiable voice, which speaks not only to Batgirl’s well-developed persona, but also to Simone’s talent. A comic book writer has only so many words per character per issue, many of which must necessarily be devoted to exposition and furthering the action. Simone uses the few words left over to beautiful effect, making clever word choices that efficiently, effectively fill out our notion of who Barbara Gordon is.
By issue 7, Batgirl is fully realized, not so much to herself, but definitely to us.
We know her. She’s both compassionate and fond of a good brawl, at once strong and struggling to find strength, self-effacing and a little cocky, always questioning herself, aware that she needs her brain as much as her brawn. She’s got the superhero chops, but she’s got a little Lucille Ball in there somewhere, too.
I eagerly anticipate narrative updates from all my comic books every month, but Batgirl’s the first character I fondly look forward to revisiting.
Here’s a taste of her talk, which I’ve grown to love:
Grotesque is holding Batgirl’s head under sewer water.
“There was a time when I thought wearing the cowl meant trading puns with Robin and hanging out at the Batcave.
And not so much, you know, drowning in a sewer.
This guy’s too strong when he’s charged up like this. Way too strong. … Is it wrong that my last thoughts might be that I’m glad this is just runoff from the rain, and not what normally runs through this tunnel?
But I’m Batgirl. I’m Barbara-freaking-Gordon.
And I’m clever.”
WHO THE HELL ARE THESE PEOPLE?
Barbara Gordon: Batgirl.
Batgirl: Former Batman trainee, along with Robin (now Nightwing). Shot by the Joker and left paralyzed. Regained use of legs after radical neural surgery. Now struggling to return to her former powerful self. Self-deprecating, clever.
Dinah: aka Black Canary, superhero and friend of Batgirl, new in issue 7
Grotesque: tux-wearing, max-wearing, shoeless bad guy; new in issue 7