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From the Archives: Batgirl (2008) #1

batgirl(2009)0001Batgirl Rising part one: Point of New Origin

Writer: Bryan Q. Miller
Penciller: Lee Garbett
Inker: Trevor Scott
Colorist: Guy Major
Letterer: John J. Hill
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover: Phil Noto
Publisher: DC Comics

[ This review originally written for and published at comiXtreme/cxPulp some time back while the issue was new–within the first days to a week that the issue was available for sale. ]

This issue opens on an action sequence. Cars take off for a race no one can win, in a scam that has drawn Batgirl to the scene. While she deals with the criminal element, we see that Batman and Robin are keeping an eye on things. Batgirl removes her mask, and we find out who she is. As she goes about her everyday life, we get a flashback sequence that shows how she came by the costume and what led to the previous Batgirl vacating it. Meanwhile, Barbara Gordon spends some time with her dad as they adjust to living near one another again (a plot point begun this past spring in the Oracle mini-series during Battle for the Cowl). As Batgirl is once again drawn into action, we see that she has a long way to go to measure up to her own ideals. The issue closes with her meeting someone who’ll be either mentor or foe.
The issue’s art doesn’t blow me away–it’s good, solid stuff, but that’s something I really expect from any comic I read. I like that all the characters I know are recognizable visually and not just contextually. While I’m sure there are subtleties I’m not picking up on, for a new reader such as myself, the style works just fine and does what a comic’s art should do.

My only real complaint with the art is the structure of the cover. We’re shown the title character from the waist to nose, with an emphasis on her…feminine curves (where the outline of a bat–her personal logo–is situated). I assume the intent is simply to emphasize the character’s chest-emblem since we’re not supposed to know who is actually in the costume. Unfortunately, the outline of a bat around the word "Batgirl" denoting the comic’s title takes away from that…and makes it seem there’s a bit of emphasis on Batgirl’s chest.

The story itself isn’t bad, though it doesn’t have me all that excited about what’s to come. I’m mainly interested in seeing what’s to come with Barbara Gordon and how she handles the new Batgirl than I am Batgirl herself. I expect I’ll give this at least a couple more issues to really draw me in. If I were to decide from this first issue alone, I do think I’d give the series a pass for now and see if anything develops, then play catch-up if interested in the developments.

All in all, a solid first issue as first issues go…and it’s very much to the writer’s–or DC’s–or WHOEVER’s–credit that the "mystery" over "Who IS Batgirl?" has been more for the solicitations on the series than some point within the series itself. That we have the identity of this Batgirl on page 6 of the first issue (the title page of the issue) allows me the interest I’m sure I would NOT have had if the identity was kept secret from the readers.

If you’re interested in Barbara Gordon, or the Gotham characters in general, or just this side of the "bat-family," this issue is worth picking up–at the least it gives you the debut of a new Batgirl, context for her and potentially where she’s going, and you get to see Babs’ story continue and where that may lead in the near future.

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The Weekly Haul – Week of January 11th, 2017

This week–for the "main haul"–certainly proved to be extremely small in its way.

At the first shop, I snagged…Action Comics. The 50%-off TPB bargain bins–from which I’d anticipated getting a couple more volumes if they were still there–were completely gone. Period. So I wound up sticking with just the single issue…

…such that this week, I paid with cash out of pocket, because it didn’t seem worth using the debit card for a single DC issue.

weeklyhaul_01112017a

Given how much I’d mentally budgeted, and how little that one issue was, I had no problem going to the second shop.

Which had two issues I wanted that the first did not: God Country and the Vixen issue. And since even those added together were still rather low…

weeklyhaul_01112017b

I snagged 3 more of the figurines I was interested in, rather than "risk" their being gone by the weekend.

Bizarro actually has the "Bizarro #1" placard but that had come off in the bag, and I neglected to realize until after I was done with blog-photos.

I’d forgotten about this old Batgirl costume…it SORTA justifies the current Bat-emblem that I don’t like on Batman’s costume at present.

Unfortunately…in looking for a couple things online, I discovered there’s a Tim Drake Robin figurine from this line that I’m very interested in now…sadly, it costs more than these three were combined!

And a $40 statue I’d been interested in is apparently going for over $200 at the moment.

Such is life.

Such is stuff.

And hey…these figurines will be seen a lot more than any Marvel single-issue #1s, proving to be the far superior value there!

Zero Hour Revisited – Zero Hour #0

90srevisited_zerohour

zero_hour_0000Zero Hour

Story and Layout Art: Dan Jurgens
Ink Art: Jerry Ordway
Letters: Gaspar
Colors: Gregory Wright
Asst. Editor: Mike McAvennie
Editor: KC Carlson
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

Here we are, at last–the final issue of Zero Hour itself. We’ve seen time anomalies pop up, and worsen. We’ve seen heroes discover time is being destroyed in the past and the future, working toward the present. We’ve seen the emergence of Extant, and the fall of the Justice Society. We’ve had dozens of tie-in issues where few have directly been part of this core event, though a fair number have danced on the edges. We’ve seen Hall Jordan–former Green Lantern, now Parallax–revealed as the sentient, actual manipulator of things as he seeks to wipe the slate clean after his own trajedies. The heroes have failed, all time and space has been destroyed, and a handful of heroes pulled outside it all, while another small handful remains with Parallax.

Hal prepares energies for the re-creation of the universe, of all existence. His way will see many worlds, and all wrongs will be set right. There will be the Earth everyone knew, minus stuff like the Coast City disaster. There will be a world that Batgirl remembers, in which she was never assaulted by the Joker. Even Extant will have his own world to rule over. Everyone will be happy. This is opposed–how can Hal be God? Waverider and his group of heroes attacks, disrupting Hal, and ultimately–after quite a scuffle–the universe IS reborn…but it unfolds "naturally" withOUT any one entity controlling it, tweaking it. As such, events unfold mostly as remembered, but here there are no alternate timelines, so everyone, everything is folded into one single chronology. The potential time-loop is closed, and all it costs is Hal Jordan and the young Kyle Rayner…while Green Arrow is wracked by the guilt of losing (having had to try to kill) his best friend.

For some reason, the phrasing "the universe is born old" sticks out to me, reading the issue. That may be random or personal and get into stuff I’m not really going to get into in a comics blog, but it’s a key phrasing to my reading.

A lot happens in this issue–look a couple paragraphs above, and that feels like scratching the surface. And yet, it’s a simplistic issue. Time is restarted; Hal wants to tweak it his way, but he’s stopped and so it restarts and unfolds naturally, so it’s similar to before, with small adjustments that functionally "explain away" continuity glitches and timing and such; shuffling a few events here and there to mash into one specific timeline.

We’re left with the notion that anyone that died via entropy or the time fissures has been restored…while anyone who died "outside of Time" (such as the Justice Society) remains dead. Victory, but at a cost.

The art and visuals remain excellent here with clean, crisp pages and dynamic layouts and (to me) iconic scenes playing out.

I don’t know if I’d recommend this as a stand-alone issue out of context of its other issues, but in a way it does work as a singular thing. You open on nothingness, and from that, Hal and his group; the opposing group, we see the FINAL final battle, the villain defeated and the universe restored…and a hint of what’s to come, as well as a fold-out timeline laying everything out for now and moving forward into the rest of 1994 and beyond. So it works as an artifact of sorts, as seeing the end of the story. And if you’re actually going to read it–whether re-read or you’ve never before read it–it’s definitely worth getting if you come across it. But it’s even better if you can snag all five issues–4/3/2/1/0–and read this core story even without any of the other tie-ins!


Going beyond the issue itself and expanding on stuff…

This is a really effective issue and makes me think. There’s a part where Hal smiles, explaining he just wants to make everything right, he wants everyone to live, where I wonder if the intent was to go for a "creepy" smile, or a "mad" smile, as if Hal’s insane. Personally, I have always–and again this time through–found myself wondering ok, why SHOULDN’T he be able to fix things? He’s not talking about recreating a universe that he RULES, or subjugating entire populations, or ending his actions with half the living entities dead, or stuff like that. He’s not targeting any particular people to wipe them out–he’s not even talking about killing Mongul. He just wants a universe where wrongs are set right, and Coast City never blows up.

Yet the argument opposing him makes sense–who is HE to singularly dictate events? Things happened for a reason, and need to remain that way, or Time WILL be altered. So really, my heart hurts for the guy, on the surface, and without considering that he was willing to wipe out the entire universe (he was gonna put it back…). And in the end, all the ramifications and little detailed points are far too numerous to address in a blog post.

I buy into this. I didn’t get into comics until about 2 1/2 years after the original Crisis. While I’d read a couple issues of Armageddon 2001, and a number of Eclipso: The Darkness Within and eve more of the Bloodlines stuff…and of course Doomsday/Funeral for a Friend/Reign of the Supermen, as well as Knightfall, KnightQuest, and KnightsEnd…this was my first DC Universe-wide event of this scale. This story ironed out details I didn’t even know at the time were issues. But it did solidify for me the notion of everything being in one single timeline…and the issue even provides a timeline, concretely laying out where/when major things happened (at least as relevant to the publishing schedule of DC in 1994!).

This was epic, and really set the standard for me of what great events could be. Of course, I’d mainly read only the core series, the Superman chapters, and several others, so it wasn’t until my current reading project of going through the entirety of the event–every single tie-in I’m aware of–that I saw the major cracks in that, and how so many issues were only loosely connected.

Looking back on this current reading experience vs. 22 years ago, I don’t feel like I actually DID "miss out on" anything back then. I did not find anything in these various issues that expanded my understanding of the story or filled in any gaps that I’d truly wondered about or that truly impacted the story…and I was disappointed at some that I’d expected would be expanded on/filled in that really were not. It seems like the issues I’d read back in the day–the Superman titles, Batman, Green Lantern, the core mini–were very much a complete enough experience.

That said, this has provided me a "survey" of a month’s worth of DC titles from July 1994, basically sampling over 30 different titles (though several "families" of related titles are in that).

There’s a lot more that can be discussed on Zero Hour itself–as a story, as an event, on ramifications and implications in-story and on a meta level. Structurally, I found this to be a solid event, and going back the 22 years, it really "set the standard" for me, and I truly MISS when even a universe-wide MAJOR event would "only" take up one publication month–with a WEEKLY core series and just one issue of tie-in per TITLE (though related titles could expand to have larger arcs tying in).

Zero Hour Revisited – Batman #511

90srevisited_zerohour

batman_0511The Night Before Zero

Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: Mike Manley
Inker: Josef Rubinstein
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Letterer: Ken Bruzenak
Assistant Editor: Jordan B. Gorfinkel
Editor: Dennis O’Neil
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

I definitely remember this issue’s Batgirl. I remember the fact OF her showing up, I remember her appearance in the main Zero Hour book, and I especially remember the impact she had toward the end of that book. But it’s quite likely, having re-read this issue, that this is the first time in nearly 22 years THAT I’ve read it…because I sure did not remember the DETAILS.

We’re only JUST past the Knightfall/Knightquest/Knightsend stuff…like, I think that wrapped with the previous issue, and then we’re dumped straight into Zero Hour. We open with the same scene that we got in Zero Hour #4–of the Joker “discovering” he’s being chased by Batgirl and wondering if it’s a joke. Even though Batman and Robin quickly arrive on the scene, the Joker escapes, leaving the heroes to try to figure out exactly what’s going on. Also on the trail of the Joker, the GCPD arrive, and their presence elicits a surprising reaction from Batgirl–fear. Then they open fire, surprising Batman and Robin (as ANOTHER Robin watches from somewhere out of their sight). Eluding the police, Batman demands answers, and things begin to come together. That horrible night years earlier saw Jim Gordon shot instead of Barbara, though he died. When the new PC–Harvey Dent–took office, he issued a shoot-to-kill-on-sight order against the masked vigilantes. Of course, though this is “normal” for Batgirl, it’s NOT the way Batman and Robin remember events unfolding. Meanwhile, the Joker decides to dispatch PC Harvey Dent, and digs up Gordon’s grave for extra theatrics, but Batman intervenes. Time continues to go wibbly-wobbly, and elements shift–reality returns to normal, though the “other” Batgirl remains…and Batman must seek answers outside of Gotham City.

As may become frequent in these posts, I’ll touch on the art first…because that’s quicker and simpler. Namely…this IS “my” Batman. This is the visual style I recall from when I was a kid…because this is an issue that was published and originally read when I was a kid. The familiarity raises more than a little nostalgia, which contributes hugely to the momentary enjoyment of rereading this quasi-isolated issue. It just fits, and IS the art I remember. It also conveys events of the story itself quite well, performing to my expectation, with the added bonus of just looking really darned good. I would not have been able to cite a name and tell you that it was Mike Manley’s art I loved, but loving the art in this issue and seeing his name…well, there you go.

Story-wise, this is jam-packed, and kinda jumps around a bit. I’m certainly bringing extra baggage to the reading experience, and using some of that to plug any holes in plot or depth or explanation–I know time is wibbly-wobbly here. I know that anomalies are popping up all over the DC universe, and that this is just the start of it. I know that there was confusion at the start of all this, and that things get put right “in the end.” But there are multiple Bat-books, each partaking in Zero Hour, so there are that many more incidents for Batman to encounter in this single month, as the main event unfolds. While I’ve been “conditioned” to a harsher modern Batman, this one can still make mistakes–such as getting distracted enough by the presence of a healthy, non-crippled Barbara Gordon that the Joker can get away. Similarly, this Batman is willing to leave the Joker for later, while other events take precedence…where nowadays, half the country could fall into the sea and Bruce would leave that for “others,” while HE continues tracking down the Joker.

batman_0511_comparison

This is also firmly rooted in continuity, and whether it was the writers coordinating, or (far more likely) Editors doing the editorial thing and coordinating stories between numerous writers), we see stuff in this issue that’s touched on elsewhere, giving us slightly different perspectives (we have Jurgens/Ordway on art for the opening scene where it touches in Zero Hour #4…and then Manley and Rubinstein giving us the exact same scene in this issue). It’s a bit repetitive in the sense of having several pages of the exact same action playing out in two issues read back-to-back…but it’s also quite welcome, because you do not HAVE TO have read Zero Hour #4 already to enjoy this issue, and you get what you need of this for the core Zero Hour story in that issue. This issue simply expands on the situation, playing out the larger situation and filling gaps.

The significance of Batgirl here would probably be lost for modern readers…this was 1994, just a few years (but enough for it to be firmly rooted in continuity) after Barbara was shot, paralyzed, and Batgirl was no more. Of course, with the coming of the New 52, a quarter-century of continuity was wiped out (and a couple “legacy”/successor Batgirls) in order to put Barbara back in action.

Opening on action, seeing characters’ reactions, resolving some of that and setting up other bits makes this at once an issue that can stand on its own (as much as any one issue of an ongoing series can/will) but plays extremely well in the shared sandbox of continuity and the universe-spanning Event series.

DC Futures End Month, Week Two

This week, I catch up on a couple extra issues I picked up from last week’s bunch over the weekend between Wednesdays, as well as this week’s new issues.

FUTURES END: BATWING #1

futuresend_batwing001It’s been a couple years since I’ve checked in on Batwing, offhand. It was the first comic I followed digitally, taking advantage of the $1-cheaper-one-month-later but lost track of it once DC went to waiting 2 months. I was aware of a status quo shift from the character I knew as Batwing to the sun of Lucius Fox. This issue didn’t really do much for me, though it was interesting enough to read. Definitely glad it’s a one-shot…I was satisfied enough with the read to not feel like I wasted my money, though I would not have been happy if this was a “regular” issue. I admit to giving in on some hype with this, but when I found it at cover price, I figured I’d give the thing a shot. Overall not bad for a “weekend wave” of “what was left” after the iniitial Wednesday release.

FUTURES END: EARTH 2 #1

futuresend_earth2001I was going to avoid this one, but then it occurred to me that this was Earth 2. And with all the hints dropped about the war between the Earths, of Earth 2 refugees and such in the Futures End main title, I thought FOR SURE this one would detail some of that, so I was curious enough to hit an extra comic shop to track it down. Sadly, it didn’t deal with that at all, and dealt more with an apparent “fall” of Mr. Terriffic, which while surely a major plot point was not the one I was looking for. The cover made me think it was going to involve the Red Tornado somehow, as well, but that was another point that didn’t hold up to the actual reading. Not a bad issue in and of itself, but certainly didn’t measure up to my expectation, and I might’ve been better off “saving” the $4 for a different one later this month.

FUTURES END: BATMAN #1

futuresend_batman001So, Batman’s apparently working on preserving and being his OWN legacy. However, as his body (and technology) fail, he finds that he has to go to extreme measures to complete a “puzzle” of sorts to prolong the very existence of Batman. This leads to a fairly all-or-nothing assualt on a Lexcorp facility for material in its lab. Batman being Batman, things have a way of working out, even if not quite what one might expect. I think I was expecting this one to take place a bit further in the future–I wanted to see a Bruce dealing with Terry–the Batman Beyond. I picked this up specifically, simply because it’s Batman…I figured for the “regular” price but much shinier, better cover it would be worthwhile. I wasn’t terribly impressed, though…I very well could have done without the issue. Still, it’s Batman, so not a complete waste. Just definitely not a “top” issue for me in this month of five-years-later one-shots.

FUTURES END: GREEN LANTERN CORPS #1

futuresend_greenlanterncorps001It’s been awhile, again, since I checked in on this title. So I’m not sure how much of the “five years later” ties back to the recent stuff–I assume it does, though. It’s nice to see the continued use of the multiple Lantern corps as such a general thing and not strictly as a Johns thing. While not exactly a “Last John Stewart Story,” this definitely comes off like it could be just that, though I don’t know much of the actual “official” established background of the Indigo Tribe (I think much of that was revealed shortly after I left off with my following of all the GL stuff). We see a hardened John Stewart here facing what he’s become, conflicting with the Indigo Tribe, and what his attitude there leads to as he’s forced to confront his own past and the destruction of a planet. I’m pretty sure this issue would carry more significance if I were to be caught up on the GL family of titles. As-is, it didn’t feel all that important, just sort of an “epilogue” or such, perhaps, on the John Stewart character.

FUTURES END: BATGIRL #1

futuresend_batgirl001My earliest Batman comics involved the original introduction of Tim Drake, Robin…and while I didn’t fully “get” it at the time, Barbara Gordon was already a couple years along from the events of The Killing Joke, was already in the early stages of being Oracle…and that’s the character I grew up on for at least 20 years. So I never gave this title much of a chance before bailing…Having Barbara Gordon as Batgirl seems weird, as to me, she’s Oracle and “Batgirl” would be Cassandra Cain or Stephanie Brown. Given that…this issue’s inclusion of a group of Batgirls (plural), including a “Stephanie” and a “Cassandra” was rather cool…and a Barbara who–while not Oracle–was in more of a leadership/advisory role to a group of women seemed far more familiar and interesting to me. I haven’t a clue if the use of Cassandra and Stephanie here will be “canon,” but I do believe this is Simone’s final issue on the matter, and so it’s good seeing the characters’ inclusion. I was going to pass on this issue on principle…but I’m glad I actually picked it up, as it was a good read, and a nice “check-in” on the title and character, as this single one-shot.

FUTURES END: JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED #1

futuresend_justiceleagueunited001I’ve only loosely been aware of this new title even existing–but while I haven’t cared enough to check it out in a present-day continuity context, as a “five years later” thing it works as just a possible alternate offshoot of the “main” Justice League…so I don’t really have to “think” too much about the matter. Here we find an apparently former group being contacted by the Martian Manhunter, “recruited” to deal with an escape from the JL’s “gulag” on Mars. The situation isn’t all that good, and as the characters arrive, the situation may be more than they can handle alone. Which, of course leaves us with a to-be-continued note, as this story continues into the Justice League issue this month. Technically this is a one-shot, but it’s part 1 of a 2-part story. Though I’ve relished the one-shot nature of DC’s books this month, I actually picked this one up specifically FOR the fact it was part of a two-parter…just to have a slightly larger story, given the involvement of numerous characters when one talks “Justice League.”

FUTURES END: CONSTANTINE #1

futuresend_constantine001As a long-time fan of Hellblazer, I “settled” for the new Constantine series when it premiered, as the only likely monthly dose of the Constantine character. I didn’t much care for the single issues, and figured I’d wait and catch up. I’ve yet to do so, just for simple “apathy” on the matter. Yet, when it came to having “given in” on DC’s annual one-shots, I decided it was a great chance to get a single-issue check-in with the character. Unfortunately, the issue proved to be a real pain to track down…perhaps because there’s a tv show about to premiere with the same name. However, I managed to get thsi for cover price, and it was a neat little story of Constantine vs. Nabu, the Helmet of Fate. It also has probably my favorite cover of the week, if not of the month. I think even if I was not buying any others, I’d’ve been interested in this anyway, just from the cover. While not quite as harsh as it likely would’ve been in Hellblazer proper…I very much enjoyed this issue, and am very glad I sought it out and got to read it. If anything’s to pull me further/back in, this’ll do it.

OVERALL THOUGHTS ON WEEK 2

This week I actually “planned” for including several extra DC books, to the point of emailing ahead to the shop to have several issues pulled. I suppose that’s the surest sign that I’m “hooked” on anything: when I take the time to specifically request something be pulled, even if just as a one-time thing and not an ongoing pull-list item.

In the hassle of tracking down Constantine, I wound up settling for a couple extra issues of Futures End itself, making myself think that ok, I’m not getting every tie-in this month, but MAYBE I’m actually rethinking avoiding the Futures End book. At the very least I’m now intrigued at the prospect of the Earth 2 weekly, and maybe I’ll give that one a shot.

I suppose the big thing all this is telling me is: I’m sick and tired of ongoing $3.99 books and constant events. I just want a self-contained $2.99 or less thing to follow on a regular basis, and when I KNOW from the START it’s a weekly, I’m willing to buy a book weekly for $12ish/monthly–that’s more than the $8 from a double-shipping $3.99, but feels like I’m getting a better value at the weekly new chapters, even if the art varies.

I guess time will definitely tell.

The Weekly Haul – Week of September 10th, 2014

Another week, another haul.

This week…a HUGE one. Like…buyer’s remorse kinda huge.

weekly_haul_september_10th_2014

Four more of the unplanned-for DC issues. Batman and GLCorps I decided over the weekend I was going to get. I don’t know what it was about Batgirl that grabbed me with this cover, but it did. An d the Justice League United one was nice and flashy…and I was curious about a one-shot continuing into another one-shot, and figured that’d tie a couple weeks together in a way.

Then there’s the Wheedon Three-Way, collecting/reprinting Buffy Season Ten #1, Angel & Faith (series 2 #1, and Firefly: Leaves on the Wind #1), Archer and Armstrong and Armor Hunters: Harbinger #3, with Magnus thrown in for good measure. Prometheus #1 which I believe will be crossing over/tying in to a new Aliens series. Astro City, and TMNT New Animated Adventures…and the massive Legends of the Dark Knight 100-Page Super Spectacular #4.

More than I’d bargained for–especially with the LotDK volume…but it is what it is.

And there’s this “Free Edition” of the Marvel 75th Anniversary Magazine that was thrown in, so that adds some value to the week…being free, even if I only spend a few minutes browsing the thing, at least it’s not something I had to specifically pay for.

Death of the Family Checklist

OCTOBER 2012

Batman #13
Batgirl #13 – Prelude to Death of the Family
Catwoman #13 – Prelude to Death of the Family

NOVEMBER 2012

Batman #14
Batgirl #14
Catwoman #14
Suicide Squad #14

DECEMBER 2012

Batman #15
Batman & Robin #15
Detective Comics #15
Batgirl #15
Nightwing #15
Red Hood and the Outlaws #15
Suicide Squad #15
Teen Titans #15

JANUARY 2013

Batman #16
Batman & Robin #16
Detective Comics #16
Batgirl #16
Nightwing #16
Red Hood and the Outlaws #16
Teen Titans #16

FEBRUARY 2013

Batman #17

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