Published on: 4/6/2016
Written by: Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher
Art by: Babs Tarr
So I just came off the worst month of my entire life and I figured if I’m going to get back into reviewing comics I should pick one that will be fun and a delight to read. This week the only sure fire comic success was “Batgirl” #50. Not only have the creative team been killing it through the entire run, they’ve redefined the character going forward, set a precedent tone change in DC comics policy, and helped put “New 52” to bed. So with this being their final issue, let’s take a look at their farewell to Barbra Gordon.
Obviously I liked this issue so let’s get that out of the way. It had amazing action throughout. Like it started off as a big hero team up. Then it became a samurai showdown. Suddenly there was a robot fighter! And then it was an ultimate duel between nemeses in a burning building! Every time the fighting seemed to be the most awesome, they threw a firecracker in and dipped it in Mars bars. Yes, yes, there was a great story and all that but this was the final issue! The climax! Everything was leading up to this. Not only did we get appearances by Black Canary, Spoiler, and Bluebird but we got a special appearance by a series regular in Scott Snyder’s “Batman” run. The fights had to deliver and boy did they look pretty.
Speaking of pretty, I have always loved the art in these books. It’s the perfect mix of fun and movement. Let me throw out some boring words for you: great kinetic energy, spectacular focus and panel composition, powerful color palettes. Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the showdown posters. You know the anime thing where the bad guy and the good guy jump at each other and pose as the word “Vs” is imposed on them? Yeah, there are a couple of those in this issue and they all look incredible. Seriously, poster material each and every one. It really helps cement that this is the climactic showdown, that this is serious. Because this is the culmination of Batgirl’s history, from her spinal injury to her move to Burnside, this is it.
Okay, one sour note for the issue. It starts off with a two page spread of a map of Burnside with a giant exposition dump as to what’s going down. Honestly? None of it was relevant. It talks about pneumatic tubes and several signal amplifiers but they might as well have been saying “McGuffin” over and over. There isn’t any correlation to the fights and it’s this weird rickety structure meant to support these fights that stand well enough on their own. But other than that the plot is superb. Mainly because the villain compliments Barbra so well. He is a genuine threat while not being “Super Bro the Bullet Proof Jack Hole”. And the final fight plays out to exemplify all of Barbra’s strengths. At no point is something handed to her or some deus ex machina dropped from the sky. What’s even better is that the creative team didn’t leave in a huff and try to break all their toys on the way out—looking at your Grant Morrison. Barbra is in a great position to continue her adventures as her story grows.
If you want big climactic fights, there doesn’t come any greater than in “Invincible”. But what we’re looking for is a villain that faces down Mark and compliments him in every way. And that villain is Robot. Because they were friends, Robot was able to discern all Mark’s weaknesses, he was able to anticipate maneuvers and thwart Mark in an arena where Mark has no strength, politics. He went before the Viltrumites, Mark’s people and he explained. Sure if they fought the Viltrumites would win but in the end the population loss would make the Viltrumite species unsustainable. Mark can’t win in that arena. He can punch and beat any number of Robot’s robutts but it doesn’t make a difference if the rest of his super friends don’t have his back. And if you’ve read any “Invincible” you know that Mark is strong as an ox but his words are shit. That’s how a climactic fight is supposed to go down, instead of a punch up between two brick houses in a cardboard cutout city.