Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Batgirl Annual #1 Review and **SPOILERS**



Batgal Can Be Your Best Batpal

Script: Hope Larson 
Pencils & Inks: Inaki Miranda 
Colors: Eva De La Cruz 
Back-up Writer: Vita Ayala 
Back-up Artist: Elonora Carlini 
Back-up Colors: Mat Lopes 
Letters: Deron Bennett 
Cover: Bengal 
Cover Price: $4.99 
On Sale Date: March 29, 2017

**NON SPOILERS AND SCORE AT THE BOTTOM**

Here’s a team-up I’ve been waiting for. I had high hopes for the Worlds’ Finest title from the New 52 (pairing the Huntress with Power Girl) which were never met. But the concept, I love. And of course, it has happened before in the DCU (though not very often!), and there is this terrific comic by Mike Maihack that I think is great, but—I want more, dammit! And it looks like I get my wish in Batgirl Annual #1. Or do I? I dunno…read on!

Explain It!

Environmental crime knows no boundaries, and so we find Batgirl in National City, having tracked down Western-themed villain Red Spur and foiled his plan to screw up something or other. Before Batgirl can rattle off the fifth paragraph of her cocksure self-aggrandizement, Supergirl pops up and spooks Red Spur so that he leaps off the top of the tall building they’re on and…parachutes to safety? Even weirder, Supergirl asks Batgirl if she wants to pursue the guy, and Babs is like “nah, I’ll catch up with him tomorrow.” What? That sounds really lazy. Like, I thought one of the hallmarks of heroism is that one never gives up, and here’s Batgirl, literally giving up. This frees her up to work on Supergirl’s problem, which is that some lady named Gayle hollered at her telepathically in Kryptonese and said she was holed up in a Cadmus lab. And naturally, because she knows Kryptonian, Supergirl’s got to save her.
Kara needs Batgirl because she thinks it will look bad politically if she gets caught, and Cadmus is protected with WayneTech security with which Barbara will be more familiar. To her credit, Batgirl asks all the right questions and even suggests they call Batman, but no—this issue is about a Batgirl/Supergirl team-up, and that’s what we’re gonna get! And then it’s like, twelve or so pages of more or less what you’d expect: Babs upstaging Kara, then Kara upstaging Babs, and in the end they respect each other and become the bestest of friends. The two come across one of Cadmus’ other detainees, some fellow named Caleb that has frost-making powers, but he’s more or less a distraction until Kara and Batgirl make it down to the creepy cells where Gayle is, and then blabbers some stuff about the Phantom Zone before knocking Supergirl out and disappearing in a green wisp. Looks like this story will be continuing in the next Supergirl and Batgirl issues, at least in some capacity—and Caleb aka Frostpoint will be joining them! I think.
The back-up is a story just about Batgirl, no Supergirl at all. Seems Barbara’s stood up her BFF Alysia the past zillion times they were supposed to hang out, so she makes a special effort to meet up for their yearly friendship anniversary. A problem arises and Barbara tries to bail, but Alysia isn’t having it and shadows Babs all over Gotham while she busts crime. It’s a cute sort of set-up that could have used a little more room to breathe, this reminded me of a kung-fu movie called Dirty Ho in which a prince and martial arts master defends himself against assassins while pretending not to know how to fight at all. We get a little of that here, but not quite enough, and it all ends with Barbara taking Alysia to the top of the Gotham Police Department to switch on the Bat Signal while Alysia asks where Babs got all those wicked fight moves from.
And then Batman shows up, right? The Bat Signal is on, I expect he wouldn’t appreciate it being used to impress a stupid friend. I mean, that’s like pulling a fire alarm or making a phony bomb scare, I’d think. The artwork in both of these stories is okay, but nothing to crow about—some of the layouts in the second story deserve another look, I suppose. The tales themselves are a little contrived in the first one and a bit underdeveloped in the second instance, but not altogether offensive. Not really worth five bucks, but it’s not a terrible rip-off. Four dollars would have been adequate.


Bits and Pieces:

A couple of decent but milquetoast stories make for a fairly limp Annual. The team-up we've all been waiting for winds up a bit disappointing, but is still promising. Or maybe my self-delusion is as strong as ever. In any case, there are better ways to burn through five bucks in this world.

6.5/10
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