Saturday, August 8, 2015

Batgirl Annual #3

Finally! Dead Dick is going to interact with somebody other than Batman, Julia Pennyworth, or The Joker!

Batgirl is about to get mixed up in Spyral business which she can probably handle since Qadir's technology is on par with Spyral's. The best part will be the scene where she recognizes Dick Grayson by his ass and then gets super embarrassed. Then Dick will ask Babs why she looks ten years younger than she really is. I hope her explanation satisfies me as a reader! I'm having a really tough time understanding why new Batgirl is so different from Simone Batgirl! I desperately need an in-canon explanation or I'm going to die!

The first Spyralee Batgirl meets is Helena Bertinelli who she's never, ever met before ever in the whole wide ever world ever.

I bet 95% of the residents of Burnside would never be thought of as a "hipster" and yet when a population becomes 5% Hipster, it's over! Mostly because when 5% of your population looks exactly alike, it's hard not to notice.

I've lived just off of Hawthorne in Portland, Oregon, for about twelve years now. I moved closer to Hawthorne because it was my favorite place, mostly due to my comic book store and Marco's Deli which had great meatball subs and Mr. Pibb on tap. It had a bit of a Bohemian flair, I guess. It was a little bit hippy, a little bit artsy, a little bit shitty. It was the kind of street that once had an Arby's but when it didn't get enough business, it closed down and McDonald's tried to set up shop there only to be beaten back by petitions. Mostly it was residents who claimed they didn't want the extra traffic generated by a fast food place but I think mostly it was a bunch of snobby assholes who only ever ate McDonald's when people they knew weren't looking. Anyway, the street lost a lot of its charm as the swarm of Hipster Gentrification (which is really the only kind of gentrification seen in Portland). And it's been going on for longer than Portlandia has been on the air, so the people who blame Portlandia are putting the cart before the bearded assholes. Although, really, the show hasn't helped. It's seen by many not as a satire of the city but more of a promotional video for like minded people. Long before Fred Armisen said that Portland was where young people go to retire, I was constantly asking the Non-Certified Wife, "Doesn't anybody in this town work?!"

So Hawthorne began to get the Hipster Gentrification treatment which seemed to be flowing southward from Alberta. It hit Belmont pretty hard back when Paninis, Cupcakes, and Artsy Toy Stores were the beginning signs of a Hipster Neighborhood taking root (the record stores were already there!). Later it became organic grass-fed beef hamburgers and "artisinal" pizza (the cupcakes survived although they probably began serving macaroons as well). The artsy toy store moved to Hawthorne and lots of businesses began changing on Hawthorne. It seemed the time had come for Hawthorne's transformation. Hawthorne lost their Blockbuster (who didn't though, amirite?!) and I told the Non-Certified Wife when we were guessing what it would become that it would be a bank or a thrift store. It became both! The deli became Thai, the corner store which I can't even remember what it was became an upscale hipster clothing store (for when you need something other than your Mr. Bubble shirt and skinny jeans) which has in-store cocktail events every few months. But the transmogrification of the neighborhood never totally took. Instead it moved on south to Division which went from a sunny, mostly one-story building stretch of barber shops and food carts and a Whole Foods (you know, your "average" Portland neighborhood!) to a shady Death Star trench of five or six story condominiums with businesses in the ground floor. Businesses like "artisinal" ice cream and...well, I can't really remember and I think "artisinal" ice cream says enough. I'm sure some place is still riding the last of the Pork Belly wave as well. I mostly avoid the place. Although the Bollywood Indian restaurant demands my patronage because Indian food, duh!

Back to Batgirl, Helena and Babs decide to work together because they both seem to be on the same mission. It doesn't matter what the mission is. This is an annual. The only thing that matters is that Babs and Dick need to meet up with each other. I have a feeling it's going to be one of those stories where Grayson narrowly avoids being seen by Gordon four or five times before the story ends with Batgirl none the wiser. Or maybe she will have noticed and she'll walk off with a quirky grin because she now knows Dick isn't dead.

"Body language." Dick is being modest about his ass.

The mission is to infiltrate an impenetrable tower which has a large open courtyard and balconies on every floor overlooking the empty space in the center. It's a lot like the latest Judge Dredd movie but with Dick Grayson as Judge Dredd and Babs and Helen as whatever other Judges helped out.

Near Miss #1!

Barbara and Damian must shop at the same shoelace store which sells the longest, loosest shoelaces they possibly can.

Near Miss #2!

Helena shouts something which prevents Babs running into Dick and making this an interesting story! Instead, the chase up the tower continues as the reader waits expectantly for the inevitable encounter (which will probably wind up being evitable).

Dick gets caught up battling the only really buff member of Gladius (the evil organization!) and Helena has to help him out. Batgirl goes on ahead and now Dick fears she's going to wind up seeing him. It's time to put on a disguise! Like maybe a sundress and a nice long blonde wig? Then maybe he can play Yakety Sax while they all run around beating up guards and Dick tries to constantly hide his face demurely behind a handkerchief. And maybe at some point Helena can stand behind a table full of fruit so it looks like a couple of cantaloupes are her breasts!

Batgirl makes it to the top of the tower first and comes face to face with Gladius's leader. But the leader has planted a bomb and makes her escape while Batgirl turns back to try to disarm the bomb (although Babs does stick a Bat-tracker on the fleeing terrorist). Dick Grayson arrives to help Barbara disarm the bomb although he's got his Spyral Hypnos running so Babs thinks she sees an old guy named Christian Kroger. I think now that we had the near misses, we're getting to the part where Babs will realize it's Dick without Dick realizing she realized it. Then she'll walk off with that smile I mentioned and maybe a pair of ruined underwear.

The bomb can't be deactivated (or else Helena doesn't really try to deactivate it because she thinks like Frankie who suggested blowing up the building earlier) and they have to jump from the tower with the UN diplomats who were hostages of Gladius. I know Batgirl didn't want to kill anybody but I think a lot of those guards she kept alive are now burning to death.

Oh, and of course, the recognition by butt shot. This is where the ruined underwear comes into play.

And this is the smile after possibly thinking it could have been Dick.

So that was the first part of the story. I think a bit of Yakety Sax would have improved the whole Benny Hill tone of it all.

The second part of the story has Batgirl chasing after the woman she placed the tracker on. While following the trace, Batgirl runs into Catwoman's sidekick, Spoiler. So now these two can have a fun adventure with each other and become best friends and make Frankie totally jealous! Unless Batgirl doesn't like being out-pepped by another young female hero.

Spoiler catches Gladius's leader when Batgirl points her out except it wasn't Gladius's leader! It was just another underling doing grunt work and spilling secrets about the Negahedron and how it's going to be used to destroy Gotham! Batgirl leaves Spoiler to take care of the terrorist and rushes off to play with Batwoman.

Batwoman and Batgirl beat up Gladius and learn more about the Negahedron. But Gladius gets away which leads Batgirl to the Gotham Academy Library where she's going to team up with Maps, probably! It won't be Olive because why would Batgirl team up with one of the Gotham Academy supporting cast instead of its main character?

Well, I guess Olive can appear as Maps' sidekick.

The Pizza Club with Guest Detective Batgirl find the head of the statue containing the blueprints of the Negahedron but the head is stolen by Gladius! She and Batgirl wind up on the roof ready to battle when Maps hits Gladius in the chin with her Batarang and saves the day! Of course. I would expect nothing less from Maps and her sidekick Olive Silverlock.

Gladius is captured and the microfiche is nearly destroyed and the librarian Mr. Scarlet shows up to declare some mysteries should remain mysteries. Maps rushes off to form Superhero Club. Olive goes off to pout. And Batgirl decides to spy on Maps for a bit because Maps would make an excellent date for Alysia's wedding and/or a superb sidekick!

Batgirl Annual #3 Rating: This annual should be held up as an example for all annuals everywhere. It was a superb annual with lots of guest stars that really should be part of Batgirl's world. Loved every second of it except for the seconds which weren't added which maybe could have had Batwoman making out with somebody. Hey, I'm still a man with inappropriate fantasies which co-opt the lesbian lifestyle for my own pleasure and gaze! Sue me!

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