Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Batgirl #9 Review and **SPOILERS**



Wait Until Your Father Gets Home

Script: Hope Larson 
Pencils & Cover: Chris Wildgoose 
Inks: Jon Lam 
Colors: Mat Lopes 
Letters: Deron Bennett 
Cover Price: $2.99 
On Sale Date: March 22, 2017

**NON SPOILERS AND SCORE AT THE BOTTOM**

Remember that time Batgirl stepped out of the shower and it turned out that the whole existence of Burnside was a dream?

No? That was just my dream, then? Makes sense, since I was naked and she was fully clothed. Here’s my review of Batgirl #9.

Explain It!

So there’s a new popular app in Burnside, this one with the worst name: Pronghorn. Looks to be a catch-all delivery service, where messengers wear matching uniforms and everything. You know, they tried this in New York and other cities right at the height of the dot-com boom, and it was a disaster. But you still see bike messengers pedaling around with UrbanFetch.com bags, so at least there’s some legacy. Anyway, a crook uses a baby blue Pronghorn uniform and a Faraday Bag (that is a bag that conceals all signals and waves, apparently) to pull a heist on two dudes cranking away on an app in a cramped Burnside apartment one Saturday afternoon. Fortunately, Batgirl shows up to stop her. Unfortunately, the criminal gets away. Fortunately, Batgirl knows to search for the Faraday Bag using a scope that picks up waves, and then looks for the suppression of a wave, which is exactly how my old roommate failed his second drug test. Anyway, she catches the robber and then it’s off to South Burnside Elementary School to ostensibly teach a children’s coding workshop.
There, the kids are sprung on a new app called Doggo, where you get a fake dog and then you buy fake things for the fake dog with real money. So it’s like a lot of actual smart phone apps out there in the world. That when Barbara and Daniel (the actual teacher) explain data mining and how her information can be sold to marketing groups, when they should be asking why the hell a nine year-old is running around playing with this clearly predatory app in the first place. No time to ruminate on that, though, as Barbara heads back to her now solely-inhabited apartment to find Alyson on her stoop sobbing. Barbara invites her in to learn that though she was okay with her wife Jo being artificially inseminated initially, she has changed her mind, and now questions the entire relationship. Barbara pats her on the back and says “there, there,” for about twenty second, and then immediately fucks off into her bedroom to write a paper for librarian school. She’ll be lucky if Aly isn’t bleeding out in her living room from a self-inflicted head wound when Barbara is finished.
Babs has trouble writing the paper because there’s so much on her mind, so she meditates and tries to apply the eidetic memory on/off switch that helped her beat up that crazy ninja lady in South Korea. How turning off your memory will help you write a paper that one would suppose is based on information you’d, you know, remembered, I’m not sure, but the point is ultimately moot because her concentration on…not concentrating is broken by a phone call from Ethan Cobblepot. He’s invited her to a charity masquerade ball, because that’s a thing super wealthy people do I think. Before she heads out, she notices that the Doggo app seems to capture a lot of Batgirl cameos, and Barbara wonders if it is actually technological surveillance of her. And to make matters more obvious, the Doggo app is part of Ethan Cobblepot’s app-making company. Hoo boy.
That evening, the ball is held at the Burnside Museum of Modern Art, which I hear is just as good as the Gotham City Museum but definitely not as many “top tier” artists. There’s a pretty cool double-page spread where Barbara and Ethan are bullshitting around a classy pool, among some modern sculpture (and of course Ethan is wearing the telling and super-creepy “bird face mask” popularized by the Plague Doctors of the Middle Ages) when he whips her around a corner and gives her a smooch before telling Babs that he bought her a toothbrush. She’s relieved that they’re going to fuck, but decides this is an opportune time to sneak out of the party and go break into Ethan’s office. She does, gets beaten up by some thugs, only to find that Ethan’s dad the Penguin is already hanging out there! And he wants to play ping pong!
I guess this was sort of a “day in the life” of Barbara Gordon, though it sure felt like she was just scrolling through plot points to refresh the reader on the current status quo before the big last page reveal that was, arguably, the only really interesting thing in this issue. The art is really nice, and some of the plotting is quite clever, and I found myself engaged even during some scenes that did not ring quite true. I do want to see where this Cobblepot family drama leads, though I’m only marginally interested in the tech side of things. I hope this story arc ends with the next issue.

Bits and Pieces:

The basics of Barbara Gordon's world are reinforced and some more smart phone apps revealed in this pleasantly mundane issue of Batgirl. Some nice storytelling choices and an enticing confrontation with the Penguin save this book from a direct comparison to Young Romance. But it could be, still!

6/10
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