Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Batgirl #21

I don't know who's more terrifying. Shauna who looks like she just crawled out of the well from Ringu or Ferdie the well-dressed living gay puppet.

Actually, I know the answer to my own question. I was raised on horror movies. I'm not saying that was a good thing being that it caused me to emotionally shutdown so as to not feel anything just so I could fall asleep every night. At least until Nightmare on Elm Street where I realized I couldn't even comfortably do that anymore! So most scary movies for a few decades never made me budge. But Japanese Horror films scare the sanity out of me. Not in a way where I watch them and jump and scream and throw my popcorn all around the room. But where I feel tense and nerved up and creeped out while watching and then later, I have to turn on every light in the house so that no weird pale children can crawl up out of the shadows and mouth voiceless words at me. Just typing that sentence is scaring me!

What I'm trying to say is, Shauna is scarier than Ferdie. I actually think I could become good friends with Ferdie if he'd just lose the drills in the hands.

This cover makes me realize something I didn't know was going on in Batgirl up until this point. I know all of Batgirl's enemies after The Mirror have been women and, technically, the Mirror can be thought of as female as well since he was reflecting Barbara back at herself. And like The Mirror, every villain has mirrored some aspect of Barbara's personality so we can see how Barbara dealt with it and learned from it and how easily the same thing can break someone under different circumstances. None of that is what I realized! What I realized was how important it was to have Batgirl's villains be female for one simple reason: it removed the whole idea of sexual assault from the picture. It's something I didn't even really realize was there until this cover; the fact that if Batman were on this cover (minus maybe Ferdie's little heart on the cheek and how obvious it is that Ferdie is gay), nobody would think a sexual crime might be committed. Nobody reads a comic book and worries that any harm other than direct physical damage will come to Batman or Superman or The Flash. Maybe Aquaman but the sea is a weird place. But if you throw some large muscular asshole at Batgirl on the cover, sexual assault is an easily read uncomfortable undercurrent of the situation.

I'm not throwing anything new out there about how different threats can be seen based on the genders of the heroes and villains. What I wanted to say was how fucking smart it has been of Gail Simone to have Batgirl's antagonists all be female for that specific reason. It's easy to just read the comic and think, "Oh, of course she's just going to fight female villains because she's a female!" But to never have to deal with even the stray thought that Batgirl could be sexually assaulted forces the reader to concentrate on the story sans gender roles.

Of course now Simone has introduced a randy little murder puppet, so that's pretty fucking awesome all in itself.

The first page of this issue shows Nightwing falling to the ground swinging through Chicago and I instantly hear all the readers' hearts speed up in unison. Nightwing makes the call to Babs at a weird time but I guess that's the life of a crimefighter!

When did Dick become the glue holding the Bat Family together? It still boggles my mind that Dick Grayson has become one of my favorite characters in the DC Universe.

Dick lets Babs know he's there for her and Barbara tells him she's not ready for anybody to be there for her. Hopefully she'll find out her brother either survived or was brought back to life via Amanda Waller's Samsara Project (ugh, I hate that project!) so that she doesn't have to be sad for very long. I like my Batgirls upbeat and perky and overly confident in her ability to beat the piss out of a living doll. Babs doesn't want to wear the Bat but she knows she's the only one capable of saving Xavia the Celebrity Hostage Judge. So it's back to work.

Alysia has potato chip pajamas! Or maybe she's just a messy eater? Or maybe Vengeance Moth got a hold of them. Oh! Maybe that's Vengeance Moth's power! She destroys clothing!

Meanwhile Shauna and Ferdie are having relationship troubles. Ferdie's eye keeps wandering and Shauna is feeling a little under-appreciated. So she wants Ferdie to put out Xavia's Celebrity Eyeballs.

I want to learn all about how Ferdie came to be. Am I going to have to wait until the Villain Month in September to find out how he became independent? And who installed the drills in his palms? I have a feeling that wasn't a built in feature. I'd love to know Ferdie's origin but I suppose in the end it doesn't matter. Does Talking Tina ever really have a reason for being a vessel of pure vengeance and hatred? How about Willie or Caeser, the dummies from the other Twilight Zone episodes? I always figured Caeser was Willie later in his career and think of "Caeser and Me" as the sequel to "The Dummy."

The other thing I'm curious about is this: Does Shauna own any other clothes?

Hacking for great justice, Batgirl discovers Shauna's address through the DMV's files and arrives to investigate.

Okay, I'm going to let Batgirl slide on this first one because she hasn't seen as much of The Ventriloquist as the readers have. But if she gets fooled by the throwing the voice trick a second time, well, fool her once won't get fooled again South Africa and such create education better!

And then Batgirl goes running into the dark just like every protagonist of every horror movie she sat and watched with her psychotic brother. I think she knows how this is going to end! "And just like that scene in Halloween when you think it's all over, and you're gazing into space. But you gotta make hear something. You start to turn and you're standing there, frozen, staring him face to face. And he looks at you and says, 'Tag, you're it, sweetie.'" Or something like that.

Batgirl considers how the doll is acting the way it is and she thinks, "Telekinesis?" Oh yeah! I forgot that Shauna showed signs of that power. Well fuck! That explains how she controls the doll. I was hoping for a more Japanese Horror Movie reason! Well, I can still hope to get one! Just knowing TK is a possibility doesn't make it the way things are. And even if that ends up as the answer, I can believe my own version just like I'm happy to believe that Harvest is actually Vampire Tim Drake from the Future, just like every single clue points to! Even the fact that Tom DeFalco and Scott Lobdell wrote vastly different origins for Harvest makes my version possible!

But the next couple of pages make the Telekinesis Theory look rock solid as Batgirl is attacked by Shauna's long dead parents. Batgirl remurders them and they collapse. Perhaps the shock of seeing her father decapitated caused Shauna to falter in her power. The whole ordeal causes Batgirl to throw up. So now when she fights, she's going to be distracted by stray pieces of half-digested food stuck in her sinuses.

Throughout the battle, Shauna's parents are raving about her daughter and her potential for fame.

My favorite scene.

After Batgirl secures the parents, she ends up battling Ferdie. Ferdie is supposed to kill Batgirl for Shauna but he's really coming on to her. It's really inappropriate seeing as how his girlfriend is right in the other room. I have a feeling Ferdie is going to go to far and Shauna is going to beat his horny little cheating head in herself. Also, if Batgirl gets her ass kicked by a doll, she'd better hope Nightwing never hears about it! It'll be 24/7 doll jokes from here on out. Heck, I bet even Alfred cracks a joke or two. Of course, his jokes will be so subtle that you won't be quite sure he's actually making a joke.

Batgirl puts the little monster down with a concussive batarang, blowing him into something that now looks more like Scarface than Ferdie. I wonder if they know each other? And then she knocks out Shauna in one punch because Shauna lost her shit when her little lover was blown to pieces. Batgirl saved Xavia and is finally beginning to feel a bit better. She'd feel a whole lot better if she wasn't so worried about that bastard brother that isn't even dead anyway.

Later at home, feeling a bit depressed about her situation with her parents although it's slightly better than Shauna's situation with her parents, Babs makes cookies for her and Alysia (and Alaska too! He's so fucking fat! Awwwww!). And then the most horrible part of the night takes place.

Wait a second. Forget Ricky and the forgotten date. What the fuck is that a picture of beside the door? Four shadowy figures riding down a canyon? Is it a hint about Alysia's past life?! I really hope she was a cowboy!

Batgirl #21 Rating: +1 Ranking. The surprise guest star at the end of this comic book really sealed it. I'm glad the surprise wasn't ruined by showing the cookies right on the cover! Also, I have to end with this panel because even though I can't seem to shut up, sometimes I just have nothing to say to supplement the cuteness and the accuracy of a thing. So just enjoy!

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