Written by: Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher
Art by: Babs Tarr, Serge LaPointe
I have an admission to make this week. Lately I’ve been overly positive in my articles. Not that I’m looking to be a downer doo-doo jerk (I am an adult, I can use those words) but to me it seems I’m being unreliable. Instead of guiding readers towards where best to spend their limited resources, the general consensus from me has been to buy everything and dig yourself a mighty debt hole with which to bury yourself. So I set out this week to take a tough stand, to cast my critical gaze, to separate the diamonds from the rough. And I failed so here’s “Batgirl” #42 which was phenomenal.
There’s three reasons I absolutely loved “Batgirl” #42. First, they brought in Livewire, one of my favorite villains from the Bruce Timm era DC Animation. Her brash attitude was a favorite of mine, a cocky arrogance because she actually had the skills to face down someone like Superman. True, in this issue they had to nerf her powers a bit and she’s not as fun as the old cartoon but her essence is there on the page. Second reason, Batgirl utilizes that creative genius that she is so good at. Her fight is against an electric based villain and she needs a way to dispel the real possibility of being flash fried. Barbra alters her costume, rubberizing areas that will be affected in a way that looks a bit slap dash but completely lines up with her new character direction of improvising what she needs. It harkens back to the days when Bruce would pull ridiculous things out of his utility belt that only have the one use; Barbra is able to outmaneuver her foe with some rubber gloves and insolation. The third reason is in this issue Batgirl gets to be a Ghostbuster! That’s right, she gets her tech guy to build her a device that captures all of Livewire’s energy and traps it. Yeah, she throws out a mother flippin’ ghost trap!
This story coincides with the happenings in Gotham; after all Batman is dead, long live Batman. Dark Knight 2.0 is on the scene, chasing down Barbra and letting her know in no uncertain terms that she needs to go on an indefinite hiatus. Not to spoil anything but the new Batman is Barbra’s father so the emotional tension between the two isn’t hard to understand; less so after a flash back to when Barbra was initially going to college to become a cop and her father told her flat out he would never put her in danger like that. But after sending her on her way, Barbra realizes Robo-Bat is in a mecha suit while facing a villain made of electricity. After an enormous face palm, she goes to the scene and makes an ultimate team up with T-Bat 800. He’s struggling because Livewire has seized his systems which means this is now the Batgirl show and she pulls down the spotlight. Not only does she come to the fight prepared, she gives Livewire an epic beat down, some of the best fighting I’ve seen drawn in a book.
I do have a slight niggle. The whole book is entertaining, a solid way to spend your hard earned cash. However, it felt a bit rushed. Livewire didn’t really show off any of her personality; there really wasn’t time. I understand, they saved up their pages for the end when they have a very sweet character moment for Barbra but it made the fight a little one dimensional. Livewire was spending the whole fight shouting how she was going to destroy Gotham. All she was missing was a mustache to twirl and some oversized dynamite.
While I like this issue I’m still gonna call it, “Invincible” did it better. Remember Universa? Giant space Valkyrie who kept going around Earth and stealing electrical power? She could sling lightning better than Zeus at a family reunion, but Mark saw that fighting her wasn’t getting anywhere so instead he stops the fight and just talks to her. That’s when she revealed she needed the power to help her planet survive. It was this epic moment of revelation for Mark; he saw that sometimes his fighting just makes things worse. A deal was made with Universa so she could siphon off the power she needed and she would stop attacking. It helped send Mark down an intense character journey that would lead to Dinosaurus shenanigans which is some of the best comic bookery ever written. But that’s a story for another time.