Want to know what covers caught our attention this week?
Curious what our eyes fell in love with at first sight?
Well, here they are, the most memorable images on the stands this Wednesday . . .
Cosmo reflects on . . .
Updated: Series promo art is below
Image Comics held their semi-annual Image Expo today in anticipation of Emerald City Comic Con. Highlights below Continue reading Updated: New Image Comics Series Announced From Remender/Opena, Brubaker/Phillips, Hickman, Chaykin & more
In theory Batgirl is a comic that I should love but they are trying way too hard to make me love it and that’s handicapped my enjoyment of what is almost a really good comic.
I’ve been accussed of being a hipster before and I’ve accused other people of being hipsters but the conclusion I’ve come to is this: all it takes to be a hipster is to dress a certain way and live in a certain place, that’s it. Because I’ve been accused as or met all kinds of people that are “hipsters” and they like and enjoy all kinds of things from the most exclusive of bands or films to the most well known and popular.
The problem with the “hipster” label is that it’s become a catch all to put on any kind of obscure or artistic thing popular with the youth, it’s been that way when I first started seeing the term ten years ago and it’s still that way now. Some people disparage it and others embrace and that’s where the inherent flaw of Batgirl comes in.
Because Batgirl feels like the creators are cramming every type of “hipster” signifier they possibly can into this story and it doesn’t work, partially because it’s too much and partially because it doesn’t understand those signifiers. I work and have a college degree in technology and I lived in Jersey City for five years where I literally saw it become old crappy Burnside full of dollar stores and bodega’s to Batgirls Burnside filled with boutiques and trendy restaurant’s. In other words I lived this life that Batgirl has been retrofitted into and the comic is off to the point that it’s become distracting.
It’s no so much that it’s wrong (even though it often is) and it’s not offensive in the way that a lot of DC comics were post New 52 but it’s more like trying to cram all of this into one book is offensive in that it feels like it’s pandering to the point that it feels false. It’s modern art, graduate programs, tech, pop culture ect thrown up all over the story like a bejeweled Batgirl costume. The antagonist in this issue is an artist that when he get’s arrested literally says “I need to call Kanye” in regards to his one call in jail. It’s too much
Which is a shame because there is a lot to like in Batgirl. Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr art work is fantastic and in a vacuum the stories and characters are pretty solid. But it’s all the extra hipster signifier being crammed in that completely handicaps all of that and just makes it come off as pandering and corny.
Maybe it’s just me, maybe I’m too close to the subject matter to read this without being turned off but I don’t think so. Ms. Marvel, Hawkeye, Sex Criminals, Lose, Young Avengers, The Wicked + The Divine, The Lizard Laughed, Luv Sucker, Shutter or even co-writer Brendan Fletchers other book Gotham Academy all deal with similar settings and don’t come anywhere close to bothering me the way this books does. There is still a lot to like about Batgirl in the abstract but it’s drowned out in the noise that surrounds it. While I truly believe all that noise is being made with the best of intentions it’s still noise and it’s distracting from the good parts. I want this comic to succeed, I want DC Comics that feel fresh, vital and unique but Batgirl just doesn’t ring true for me and I can’t keep waiting for that to change.
It’s impossible to review Batgirl #35 purely in the context of it existing as single issue for variety of reasons chief among those being the state of the title prior to the creative switch, the overall tone to DC Comics New 52 initiative and recent past influences for the comic. If I were writing to you in a vacuum it would be easy to say “Batgril is pretty good overall though somewhat cluncky in spots” and that would all be true but it’s not telling the whole story. So let’s begin with the background and move inward; issue #35 of Batgirl comes with a high profile creative change from writer Gail Simone to Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr. This is a collection of talent that is instantly interesting but totally unproven. Cameron Stewart is a fantastic illustrator but for me at least his writing is a blank slate, Brenden Fletcher joins Stewart on those duties also as a relative unknown for myself though he also co-wrote last weeks very good Gotham Academy #1 and illustrator Babs Tarr is completely new to comics illustrations. Batgirl is a comic that launched with the initial New 52 publishing initiative and has fallen under much of the same criticism that the New 52 as a whole has suffered from in accusations of the comic being dark for darks sake without having any real depth to that and pretty epic editorial clusterfuck that involved series writer Gail Simone being notified that she was getting fired off the book via e-mail and then being brought back on to what can most charitably be described as a media shit storm. So the new Batgirl team and vision has been presented as correction to all that was wrong with the title with ambitions for a tone that’s lighthearted, contemporary, fun and more reflective of a young woman in modern urban America. Now this is all well and good in and of itself but for anybody that’s loved Hawkeye & Young Avengers this sounded and looked eerily similar to those books which was slightly troubling because one: nobody want’s to see a DC New 52 version of what are essential two of the five best Marvel books of the last two years because that probably will suck and two if the complaint for New 52 DC is essentially boiled down to that it feels like bad rehashes of 90’s Marvel comics while copying a couple of newer books is technically progress it barely qualifies as such. And to really get into the book at hand will start with the Hawkeye/YA influence because its a comic that feels like it’s walking the fine line between being influenced by and straight swagger jacking those comics depending on the page. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen DC reimagine their properties in a way that feels earily similar to other popular comics as of late because as excellent as Grayson has been that comic doesn’t exist without the success of Zero & Moon Knight preceding it. What makes Grayson work outside of it’s modern influences is that it had a clearly established voice from jump and that’s only become more refined as the title has continued forward. With Batgirl it’s not quite all the way there yet but you can see it’s path if you look close enough. Part of that comes down to what I’ve called “cluncky” which is dialogue or situations that feel a little bit off. Look it’s not easy jumping into the deep end of modern youth culture here and there were a couple points in the story that kind of missed in that regard in addition to a couple of plot idea’s that could have used some more refinement in and of themselves. That said it’s a very cool story overall that takes a sort of amalgam modern everyday tech related problem and composes that into what turns out to be a pretty rewarding story line with a good concept even if the villain is a bit too on the nose. The character work here is solid while not working in spots but considering where this book was at or DC Comics as a whole this is like leaps and bounds ahead of say Dan Jurgens doing Green Arrow, Ann Nocenti doing Catwoman, Tony Daniels on Detective Comics or any number of awful one dimensional character work that we’ve seen from the publisher that was meant to be edgy but came off as out of touch. In that sense Batgirl is a phonemenal upgrade in every way. On the art side Babs Tarr is pretty fantastic all things considered and by considered I mean this is the first comic she’s ever done. Again there are points where you see the Hawkeye influence creeping into the expression or the Young Avengers style for the full page spreads and in that regard this isn’t quite as good but she does very well in the design of the characters and fluidity of movement with a style that is clearly singular which if you think about it is probably the most important part of this book. The layouts are credited to Cameron Stewart as well which is completely understandable because again this is Babs Tarr’s first comic and definitely an asset to the book. Look there seems to be way more comics internet people at way more popular sites that love this comic way more then Axis so it’s entirely possible I’m just an idiot and if you are among the many hardcore DC fans that’s sick of the poochiefication of their superhero line you’ll probably love this, especially if you haven’t read Hawkeye & Young Avengers yet which a surprisingly large amount of the comics internet writers hasn’t because I think they’re dumb but again it might just be that I’m an idiot. Overall this is a very good start for the series new direction that has a clear path to becoming great if they can improve on what’s an already strong foundation. It’s worth checking out and while I’m not quite over the moon this time around I can see myself getting there as the Batgirl team sharpens their skills.