Adam Graham's Blog: Christians and Superheroes - Posts Tagged "batgirl"

Review: Showcase Presents Batgirl

Showcase Presents: Batgirl Showcase Presents: Batgirl by John Broome

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I always loved when the 1960s Batman TV show added Yvonne Craig as Batgirl when I was a kid, so this big book of 1960s and 70s Batgirl stories was a real treat. The Book traces Batgirl's history from her first appearance in Detective Comics #359 in 1967 through a 1975 appearance in Superman Family magazine.

Batgirl never had her own pre-Crisis comic book which makes a book like this so fun as we get to see Batgirl's appearances in several comic books written by several different writers with a variety of styles. Batgirl does guest spots in comics for the Justice League, World's Finest, Brave and the Bold, Adventure Comics, and of course, Batman.

The book sees Batgirl develop. Unlike other members of the Bat family, her taking on a superhero persona is tied to no personal tragedy. Simply put, she was going to a costume party in the costume, ran into trouble, fought some crime, and liked it. Thus, a legend was born.

Through these adventures, Batgirl is established as a (mostly) tough incredibly brilliant young woman who is a legitimate and serious crimefighter. The book really falls into three sections. Up to page 281, the book is dominated by Batgirl's guest appearances in other magazines, with a lot of appearances with Batman and Robin (August 1969). My favorite in this lot is a mind-twisting story in World's Finest #176 called the Supergirl-Batgirl Plot. The weirdest story in this section is Justice League #60 where the Justice Leaguers are shrunken and given wings by "the Immortal Queen." Batgirl didn't feature very much in the conclusion. Indeed, while most of the stories in this section are pretty good, my one complaint is that many of them have very little Batgirl-practically cameo appearances.

This section does include Batgirl's first solo stories as a back up feature in Detective Comics 384. The same issue features artist Gil Kane giving Barbara Gordon a gorgeous makeover from the original hair up and librarian glasses from the first issue as Batgirl jumps into action to find a missing attractive library patron.

The second section of the book is made up entirely of these back up features from page 281-491. These features ran from 7-10 pages in length and ran in Detective comics as an add-on to the Batman feature. Batgirl had six of these back up stories appear from October 1969-July 1970 before getting a regular monthly gig from October 1970-June 1972. The stories in this section were traditional detective and crime fighting stories with no costumed supervillains showing up.

The stories usually worked out okay, but sometimes due to length and recap requirements, the ending could seem rushed. An attempt at a Batgirl-Robin team up in these back up features didn't work out well for that reason. A two part back-up story is barely enough for one hero, let alone two.

Batgirl dealt with some more "female related" stories such as industrial espionage against the "best dressed woman in the world" who would decide what skirt length women would be wearing and a blackmailer/murderer who made wigs that attached themselves to the wears head and induces a headache. The blackmailer then makes his demand and if the client doesn't pay off, he crushes her skull. However, all of them are quite enjoyable.


Her back up series ends with her running for Congress, which may be the most ignominious fate a superhero has faced.

The final three stories are guest spots in Superman and Superman Family Magazine which are some of the better ones in the book. Batman's Super partners get to show their stuff but so does Batgirl. Even while only making appearances as a part time superhero, she's treated as a serious crimefighter.

That's the case throughout the book. One big exception to this was Detective Comics #371 which had Batgirl's crimefighting constantly frustrated by her vanity and primping over her costume and make up. She proved her feminine advantage by "accidentally" tearing her tights and showing her legs, allowing Batman to knock out the bad guys.

Now, I'm the last person to complain about sexism, particularly in older material. But come on! That's just ridiculous, even for 1968. Perhaps the most unfortunate decision made by DC Editors in this book was to use an image from that issue for the cover of the book. It doesn't do Batgirl justice. The only other story that may offend some feminist is Brave and the Bold #78 which had Batgirl and Wonder Woman making fools of themselves to win the heart of Batman. At first, it was an act to lure Copperhead into a false sense of security, but then it became serious. However, I thought the story was just a comedy story.

Of course, there are inexplicable things that happen in the book such as Batgirl giving oxygen to a nearly drowned Supergirl by dragging her to a car, letting out the air and putting Supergirl's mouth on the tire stem. Also, they offer their parody of the Godfather called, "The Stepfather." However, for fans of classic comics, these sort of incidents are features not bugs.

Despite a few hiccups, this is a fun collection of Silver and Bronze Age comics.





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Published on January 20, 2013 21:23 Tags: batgirl

Book Review: Batgirl: The Greatest Stories Ever Told

Batgirl: The Greatest Stories Ever Told Batgirl: The Greatest Stories Ever Told by Dennis O'Neil

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This is an odd book in DC's 21st century "Greatest Stories Ever Told" books. It stands at 160 pages which is 32 pages less than the other books in the series. The book also lacks an introduction. While Batgirl is a wonderful hero, the way the book is published wreaks of an affirmative action decision after only one of the books published between 2004-08 featured a female hero rather than someone DC believes actually merited a book. And to be fair, Batgirl is not on the same level as the previous characters featured.

The book features exclusively Barbara Gordon as Batgirl though others have held the name. It begins with her mid-Silver Age origin in, "The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl" with Batman which is decent origin story, though it does seem to demean most of her heroic acts as either unnecessary or counterproductive.

Next up are five of her 8-9 page solo stories from Detectives in the 1970s. The first two tell the tale of Batgirl on the hunt for a serial killer. This is a decent story, typical of the series. I could think of some I liked better, but they're fair enough picks.

Then there's the final three stories which tell of Barbara Gordon deciding to run for Congress and leaving Gotham City once she wins. It's an essential story for the pre-Crisis Batgirl, and again solidly written even if its a bit dated.

The big reason to pick up the book though are the reprints of two Batgirl and Robin stories from the Batman Family comics. These comics haven't reprinted and are very expensive. The story in Batman Family #1, "The Invader from Hell," has the new dynamic duo battling the powerful ghost of Benedict Arnold and the Devil himself in a story with a good patriotic message prior to America's bicentennial. The story from Batman Family #9 is a little more disappointing. While it's a good story, the book is really more of a Robin/Teen Titans story and as this book is about Batgirl she should have featured more prominently.

We're then offered three post-Crisis Batgirl stories, all of these were post Barbara Gordon being crippled in, "The Killing Joke" so were basically flashback stories thought not told that way. "Photo Finish" is a cute 1997 story about a precocious Batgirl and Robin meeting up. Again, it's cute, but the greatest?

The book concluded with a 40-page story that appeared in two issues of Legends of the DC Universe in 1998. The story isn't bad, but it is really padded. There's really twenty pages of story padded to two issues with a lot of half page columns. And once you come down to it, the story is more okay rather than all that great.

Overall, the book isn't bad particularly if you like Batgirl. The problem is that the term, "Greatest Stories ever told" leaves us expecting something grand and epic. This book doesn't deliver with the exception of, "The Invader from Hell." Had this book been called, "The Best of Batgirl Volume 1" or something like that, I'd have been okay with it. However, it just doesn't live up to its name. We have some good stories and no real horrible stories, but we have a book that's 32 pages shorter than predecessor volumes with no introduction. This book just doesn't measure up.



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Published on November 13, 2013 18:43 Tags: batgirl

Book Review: Batgirl Year One

Batgirl: Year One Batgirl: Year One by Scott Beatty

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The original Batgirl was Barbara Gordon and this book like other Year One books is an origin story, revising and expanding her silver age origin to a more modern setting.

Barbara Gordon wants to be a police detective but is too short and her father James Gordon is just not a fan of her joining the force. She decides to give him a few awkward moments at a party by designing her own creative female version of the Batman costume. But she actually has to fight crime when Killer Moth shows up to kidnap Bruce Wayne.

When she decides she wants to actually continue being Batgirl. This is a problem as her father would never want her to be Batgirl and Batman's not too hot on the idea, with the feeling that she hasn't earned the right to wear her costume. Batman has Robin provide her some equipment to help but mainly to make sure she doesn't kill herself.

Really, this is just a fun book. Batgirl is spunky and determined. She goes through plenty of setbacks but is a determined fighter who won't let anyone deny her her dream. She has her moments of self-doubt but they're moments, it's not a way of life for her. She keeps coming, even though her motivation for this isn't particularly strong other than being in a cop's family and unable to use her skills on the police force where she works as a computer tech.

This type of story doesn't need a menacing big league villain like the Joker or the Penguin. A strong but not all that competent Killer Moth backed up by the more menacing but still B-list villain Firefly really help to strike the right tone with Killer Moth's plot to become the villains version of Batman even giving criminals a Moth signal which was part of a Silver Age Batman story.

This series really did quite a few homages and acknowledgements to the Silver and Bronze where Barbara Gordon's Batgirl was well-known and it all makes for a nice package.

If there's one detriment, it was the constant foreshadowing. In the post-Crisis DC Universe, Barbara Gordon was crippled by the Joker in Alan Moore's Batman: The Killing Joke and from her wheelchair, she served as Oracle who masterminded the Birds of Prey group. One or two references to this would have been okay and expected but they did it a lot and that diminished the story.

It's as if the authors are saying, "You know everyone whose afraid our plucky heroine is going to get herself seriously injured. Well, they're right." It's a dark cloud that they make way too big in this type of story.

Still, they don't ruin it and compared to the other Year One Titles I've read, this is actually pretty good.



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Published on January 26, 2014 22:07 Tags: barbara-gordon, batgirl

Book Review: Batgirl: Silent Running

Batgirl, Vol. 1: Silent Running Batgirl, Vol. 1: Silent Running by Kelley Puckett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book collects Issues 1-6 of Cassadra Cain's run as Batgirl. She begins the book verbally and mentally non-communicative. Unlike Batman who often won't talk, she can't. She also can't write or even have thought bubbles. That could make her a pretty enigmatic side character but for a main character it presents a big challenge because not only can't she talk, but most of the time her face is hidden behind a mask, so you can't see her face to see what she's thinking. Cassandra Cain may be able to interpret everything based on body language but most of us aren't her. This gets a little easier towards the end of Issue 4.

Also in this story we have Batman investigating whether her father had her murder a man when she was seven years old. It's disturbing stuff, and I'm not certain really is all that helpful.

However Cassandra is a fascinating character. I enjoyed the book and will probably pick up the next volume.



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Published on July 29, 2014 17:01 Tags: batgirl

Batgirl Digital Comic Book Sale

Comixology is having a 99 cent Batgirl Digital Comic Sale including the first 34 issues of the new 52 Batgirl series plus two annuals for 99 cents each. They also have each issue of Batgirl Year One for the same price.

That's actually not the part that interests me. I will eventually read the series in Trade and my look library has the trades. The good part is that Comixology has added Fives Issues of the 1970s comic Batman Family featuring the Bronze Age adventures of Batgirl and Robin teamed up which haven't been reprinted before. For those who haven't read it, Detective Comics #359 (her first appearance) is available as well. They also have several other issues of pre-52 Batgirl stories which appear to be mostly flashbacks after DC Comics decided to put Barbara Gordon in a wheelchair at the hands of the Joker prior to the latest universe reboot.

Anyway, if you're a fan of the fabulous Barbara Gordon, its worth checking out.
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Published on September 24, 2014 23:27 Tags: batgirl, digital-comic-sale

Book Review: Elseworld's Finest: Batgirl and Supergirl

Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl by Barbara Kesel

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


The best of DC's Elseworld stories imagine how our favorite DC heroes would exist if circumstances were different. What if Batman had fought crime during the Victorian era? What if Superman went away while a group of harsher more brutal metahumans became a terror to the population? What if Wonder Woman was an old West Sheriff?

The worst of DC's Elseworld's tales imagine a world where our heroes are unlikable twits. Unfortunately, Elseworld's Finest falls into the latter category.

In this world, Barbara Gordon's parents rather than Bruce Wayne's are killed by Joe Cool while trying to save Wayne's parents. Barbara becomes Batgirl with the help of the Wayne millions and the assistance of her childhood friend and millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne. After becoming Batgirl, she puts the city under lockdown and bars all superhumans including the Wonder Woman-led Justice Society and she does this because...

Actually, that's never explained. The Justice Society than confront her and then she defeats the entire Justice Society (because she's Batgirl.) The one potentially good idea was tying her use of computers in this Elseworld tale to her identity in the main DC universe as Oracle.

At any rate, Supergirl in this tale is the last survivor of Krypton and has been adopted by Wonder Woman after crashing on Earth as a teenager. She's been helped out by Lex Luthor and is intensely loyal to him. When Luthor is kidnapped, Batgirl wants to keep the Gotham City investigation herself but Supergirl insists on getting in.

Overall, there's not a lot good to say about this book. The art is rarely bad but it's nothing really good either. The plot is confusing and everyone seems to be improvising. None of the characters are likable or that interesting. One potential exception is the Joker, who in this Elseworld, commits crimes to gain the attention of Batgirl, and also has taken a dose of venom to give him the muscles of Bane, but even that character became a one note.

The same can be said of all the characters. Batgirl isn't really her own character but just acting like Batman. The only exception is that she writes crime novels. Given that she's the autocratic dictator of Gotham City while also maintaining a double life, that's unintentionally silly. Supergirl is just a volatile teenager who screams and throws tantrums.

There's no one to like or care about, so despite the title, this is far from Elseworld's Finest.



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Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl by Barbara Kesel

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


The best of DC's Elseworld stories imagine how our favorite DC heroes would exist if circumstances were different. What if Batman had fought crime during the Victorian era? What if Superman went away while a group of harsher more brutal metahumans became a terror to the population? What if Wonder Woman was an old West Sheriff?

The worst of DC's Elseworld's tales imagine a world where our heroes are unlikable twits. Unfortunately, Elseworld's Finest falls into the latter category.

In this world, Barbara Gordon's parents rather than Bruce Wayne's are killed by Joe Cool while trying to save Wayne's parents. Barbara becomes Batgirl with the help of the Wayne millions and the assistance of her childhood friend and millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne. After becoming Batgirl, she puts the city under lockdown and bars all superhumans including the Wonder Woman-led Justice Society and she does this because...

Actually, that's never explained. The Justice Society than confront her and then she defeats the entire Justice Society (because she's Batgirl.) The one potentially good idea was tying her use of computers in this Elseworld tale to her identity in the main DC universe as Oracle.

At any rate, Supergirl in this tale is the last survivor of Krypton and has been adopted by Wonder Woman after crashing on Earth as a teenager. She's been helped out by Lex Luthor and is intensely loyal to him. When Luthor is kidnapped, Batgirl wants to keep the Gotham City investigation herself but Supergirl insists on getting in.

Overall, there's not a lot good to say about this book. The art is rarely bad but it's nothing really good either. The plot is confusing and everyone seems to be improvising. None of the characters are likable or that interesting. One potential exception is the Joker, who in this Elseworld, commits crimes to gain the attention of Batgirl, and also has taken a dose of venom to give him the muscles of Bane, but even that character became a one note.

The same can be said of all the characters. Batgirl isn't really her own character but just acting like Batman. The only exception is that she writes crime novels. Given that she's the autocratic dictator of Gotham City while also maintaining a double life, that's unintentionally silly. Supergirl is just a volatile teenager who screams and throws tantrums.

There's no one to like or care about, so despite the title, this is far from Elseworld's Finest.



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Published on November 17, 2014 18:37 Tags: batgirl, elseworlds, supergirl

Book Review: Batgirl, Volume 2: A Knight Alone

Batgirl, Vol. 2: A Knight Alone Batgirl, Vol. 2: A Knight Alone by Kelley Puckett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The second volume collects Issues 7-11, 13 and 14 of the Cassandra Cain Batgirl stories. Issues 7-9 focus on the aftermath of the events in the prior story where she lost her amazing skills that allowed her to anticipate her opponents moves when she was given the gift of communication. Her costume has been taken away by Batman who doesn't think she can be safe. These stories show how important being the best is as it leads her into a confrontation with a Lady Shiva and Batgirl shows there's little she won't do to be good for as long as she can. How her skills are returned is a bit of a cheat, but it's interesting.

The rest of the book is made up of one shots. Issue 10 features a frustrated man with a gun in an alley. Batgirl is kind of an ineffectual afterthought. Issue 11 focuses on Cain's lowlife father David who escapes from the hospital but not from trouble. Issue 13 sees her give a young criminal an opportunity to go straight by saving him out of costume and Issue 14 ends with a new milestone in Cassandra's life as a result of that decision.

Overall, despite some merely okay stories, I enjoyed the book because Cassandra continues to be just an amazing character.




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Published on October 21, 2015 19:08 Tags: batgirl, cassandra-cain

Book Review: Batgirl: Volume 1: Beyond Burnside

Batgirl, Volume 1: Beyond Burnside Batgirl, Volume 1: Beyond Burnside by Hope Larson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This book marks the DC Rebirth beginning of Barbara Gordon's Batgirl as she travels through Asia, meets an old high school flame, and encounters a country-spanning mystery, which is resolved in the second to last issue. In the final issue in the book we get a fun meeting with Poison Ivy on a plane.

The art is decent, the actual mystery story is, on its own, okay, and held my attention. I liked the character and the story showed some good research had been done.

My problem with the book is that I didn't see the point of it. My hope with the Rebirth books is that they would serve as an easy jumping on point for new readers. This book fails at that. Why is Barbara travelling Asia? What does she do in Burnside? Who is her best friend in the wheelchair she calls a couple of times? I've got the Burnside books on my to-read list, but if I have to read them before I know what's going on with the character, then the point of Rebirth is somewhat lost with Batgirl.

I did like the character, so I will probably pick up Volume 2, but this book doesn't work as a jumping on point.



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Published on April 16, 2017 17:16 Tags: batgirl, dc-rebirth

Book Review: Batgirl, Volume 3 (Death Wish)

Batgirl, Vol. 3: Death Wish Batgirl, Vol. 3: Death Wish by Kelley Puckett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book collects Issues 17-20, 22-23, 25 of Cassandra Cain's run as Batgirl. This book is one of those comic stories that works better as a trade. Individually, except for the final issue, these stories seem unconnected okay crime adventures with Robin (Tim Drake) and Spoiler joining her on a couple cases one issue being dedicated to a long dialogue between Batman and Oracle about her.

However, read as a trade, it's actually a very good character story about Batgirl dealing with her guilt over killing a man as a child and the ticking time bomb which is her battle to the death with her mother Lady Shiva. Within the context of the trade, it's a longer story as she deals with her guilt and her true nature. Batman's observation that she's not a killer because how could a killer get what we do here, is a thought provoking idea. The conversation works in the context of the book because so much of is action, it actually makes a nice break. What makes the book pay off is the final chapter with the battle with Lady Shiva. The fight and the revelations that come out of it make for a nice twist. Overall, a good story where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.



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Published on April 26, 2017 05:47 Tags: batgirl, cassandra-cain

Book Review: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, Volume 1: Who Is Oracle?

Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, Volume 1: Who Is Oracle? Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, Volume 1: Who Is Oracle? by Shawna Benson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The Rebirth relaunch of Birds and Prey begins with Batgirl calling in Black Canary to find out who has co-opted her old Oracle identity and started using it to help out organized crime. One of their leads is also targeted by the Huntress, the daughter of a mafia family whose whole family was killed in a single night and is seeking deadly vengeance. Batgirls invites her to an uneasy alliance.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I'll admit that the actual solution to the mystery of Oracle was a bit underwhelming, however the key is the character interaction and journey. Batgirl deals with a big question of identity and her feelings about this theft, while Huntress has to decide whether she can align with the Birds of Prey's non-lethal ways and find a new family. Black Canary is much more a supporting character in this and really a fun one with a lot of sass and sarcasm.

We also find out what Batgirl was doing drifting through Asia in her solo book (apparently she was training.) We also are left with a question as to what her realtors are trying to do in breaking in. Hopefully, that will be addressed in the next book. I'll definitely be reading.



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Published on April 27, 2017 04:06 Tags: barbara-gordon, batgirl, rebirth

Christians and Superheroes

Adam Graham
I'm a Christian who writes superhero fiction (some parody and some serious.)

On this blog, we'll take a look at:

1) Superhero stories
2) Issues of faith in relation to Superhero stories
3) Writing
...more
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