Monday, June 24, 2013

Batman and Batgirl #21

Yet more Barbara Gordon as Batgirl.


This issue quite honestly bored me because it rarely held my interest. Which is a surprising feat, I may not like most of what I've read in the Tomasi run of Batman and Robin but I at least found it entertaining or interesting. I didn't find this to be either. First it messes up the tone by giving the guest star thought boxes which correct me if I'm wrong, neither former Robin had in previous issues. It makes this more of a Batgirl book than anything else and that takes away from other plotlines that would have fit better. We could have got a scene with Alfred and Carrie for example. Maybe something explaining Two-Faces' appearance from the end of last issue. Instead Barbara takes up most of this book talking about things we won't see in this arc.

Tim didn't have anything from his life highlighted except the fact he works with the Titans. Jason got vague mentions about his injuries, his fears about the Joker controlling his life and a set up to the current RHATO arc. Ironically he's the only member that felt like family because he bonded with Bruce. Barbaras' thoughts explore her feelings about her family life and go more in depth into her life than Bruces'. Another major thing was that I didn't like either lead. I thought Tim and Jason were in character and very likable in their cameos. All of these stages remain the same, Bruce acting like a jackass to his family when they attempt to help him and attacking people. The concept of bargaining had to be forced into the plot through the characters' verbal exchanges otherwise no one would know what stage this was. This grieving angle isn't new and has been done far better. In fact Bruce has gone insane through various mourning Jason stories so many times this not only makes it apparent Damians' death was trying to copy it but makes it even more pointless.

I get what Tomasi was trying to do with Barbara by showing that she's also trying to bargain her way out of her guilt. But here's the thing...she comes off pretty bad while she's doing it. Judging Bruce for his actions yet she keeps going onto missions while she let's her emotions control her. Something which has already endangered lives since the start of her series. Removing the symbol yet wearing the costume she claims she's unworthy of instead of making a new ID or quitting until she could get her head back in the game. The only time I thought she worked in a good way was mentioning Tim passing on the information from his run in from #19. The smart thing to do would be to hold a intervention with the rest of the family and even ask where Jason's at since he would have been the obvious go to guy before Bruce screwed up royally. But it's obvious she's making this something that's just between the two of them.

Babs is shown dwelling on her own problems so much makes her seem like she's self absorbed and only shows interest because she wants to earn Bruces' approval to validate herself. Which makes the offer of becoming Robin pretty damn selfish and pretty damn horrible. As if she's pushing aside what he needs to put herself first. She can't have her own fathers' approval so she's doing it with Bruce by offering to dress up as one of his kids. The phrasing of this is just troublesome:

Barbara Gordon: Is this what you need?! (Smashes the case) I don't even know if I've earned the right to wear my uniform anymore, but if you need a Robin at your side just ask me and I'll do it!

This reeks of desperation and worse reduces the Robin legacy since she treats it as less than her own mantle. It also ignores the fact that she wants to dress up like one of his sons that died and act as a constant reminder. This relies on one of the most overused tricks in the book to get an emotional reaction in a bat book. Breaking the case. I'm bothered by the fact that no one seems to comment that it's in fact Jasons' case not Damians'. It could be an artist mistake--although Damians' uniform should be better known than Jasons' new 52 uniform. Neither Bruce or Barbara address this and I find it really distracting. I mean obviously she couldn't fit into Damians' right? Although even Jasons' would be pushing it since he was supposed to be short when he died around 15. Barbara has been very snotty about Jason in the past, maybe that's why she doesn't say anything? Bruce likely doesn't want to think about what an asshat he was to Jason last issue but some acknowledgement would have been refreshing especially since this is retreading so much of the "dead Robin" storyline.

This was the worst issue of the arc although I still say his treatment of Jason was the worst Bruce acted towards anyone. Not much to add to my post about Bruces' treatment of his family.

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