Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Death of the Family Part 8: Batgirl #15 and Suicide Squad #15

I can't say for certain, but I'm pretty sure this is the midpoint of my Death of the Family review blogs. There was a lot to get to this week, and now that the men have had their reviews, let's get to the females affected by all this Joker madness.

Batgirl #15

Ok, I'll freely admit I'm a little saddened about reading this one. I'm sure by now that you've all heard that Gail Simone was unceremoniously removed via email from the Batgirl title.

Now, I'll fully admit that I've been on-and-off with Simone's work here. I thought her arcs were starting to follow a pattern, drag on a little too much and I REALLY didn't like when she crossed Batwoman into the book and made Batgirl look like a lesser hero in her own title.

With that said though, with the exception of that one issue, I haven't had any real complaint with the title's storylines. The arcs, while slow, have developed in a way that I really do care about the payoff, and I honestly don't think any other writer could have reinserted Barbara Gordon into the Batgirl role without botching it.

Add in that the title has been selling better in trade form than most every other book, and it really feels nonsensical to make the head writer leave when she clearly has stories in place that could last another year.

Which brings me to this issue. Simone's set up to the end of the Batgirl-Joker crossover payoff, and supposedly her penultimate issue. This one is really good, but it may have been my least enjoyable read of the day.

It hit all the right points: Dealing with the Joker proposal, Batgirl cutting lose and going full bore on the Joker, and a setup that leaves me anxious for next month's issue. But there are weak points.

I still have no idea what Jim Jr. is doing, and now I'm left wondering if he's in some way a redeemable character. I also feel like Joker dragged his cutesy dialogue on a little too long. It just felt weird in the context.

You shall be missed, Gail.
But now the positives. I thought the parallel story with Joker talking to a psychiatrist was well-executed, and led me to wonder about the top half of that corpse near the end of the book. Also, I liked Barbara finally snapping and deciding that she's willing to break the Batman Rule to finish the Joker fight. It's a natural reaction and I look forward to the follow-up in other arcs and... OH WAIT...

Yeah, that was my running thought here. All the positives of this issue, and even the Jim Jr. thing were hurt further by the fact that Simone won't be carrying the follow-up out herself. I'm sad for that because as much as I criticize decision of Simone month to month, she always has a future payoff in mind that has earned her my trust that things will improve.

A new writer won't have that. So grab this issue. Grab next month's. Because in a few months the landscape changes.

Suicide Squad #15

Holy crap, was this better than last month's or what?!

To be fair, last month's issue was total garbage, but this was a night-and-day difference. Mostly, that had to do with the fact that this crossover actually tied into the Joker-Harley dynamic.

For once, I didn't hate the route they took Harley's character by putting her into the vat of chemicals. They gave it a purpose in this story and the psychological war of wills between these two was just fun to watch. In some ways, this showdown felt more emotional than Batgirl's.

I also was a fan of how Joker described how he felt more primal when the nerves of his face were no longer attached. It actually got into his psyche and the panel where his face comes off was a nice touch.

The problem is, there are still a lot of annoying problems with this book. One is that they keep saying that Joker is changed, but I really don't think he is. That is really an issue with the writer's take on the Joker, but it is in the book nonetheless.

Next is Amanda Waller. She apparently put cameras in Harley's eyes to see when she inevitably went back to Joker so she could... Observe and not report? Why does she need to see what Joker is capable of and not want to catch him. Waller is really pissing me off in this book.

Lastly is the concept of possible previous Harleys. Given the 5-year nature of this DC Universe, that doesn't make a lick of sense, so unless he's just saying patently false crap or had a random team of Harley henchwomen in one of his plans, then we've come up with yet ANOTHER time paradox in the DCU.

Ok, writing this I see that this book is nowhere near Batgirl's level. This is a good buy if you like the crossover, and it does beat the living hell out of Catwoman's entry into DOTF, but this is kind of weak.

I honestly have no clue why this title exists, and if you don't buy this issue, nothing shown in the last two months has made me any more receptive to this title's existence.

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