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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.
Then I read them.
Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.
I read A RIDICULOUS 11 comics last week: Batgirl #50, Coming of the Supermen #3, Spider-Man #3, Detective Comics #51, Star Trek #56, Black Widow #2, Invincible Iron Man #8, Superman #51, The Darkseid War Special #1, Poe Dameron #1 and Black Panther #1.
The best comic I read last week was Batgirl #50.
In a week that had some wonderful books (Black Panther, Poe Dameron and, surprisingly Superman) it was impossible not to choose Batgirl #50.
For all intents and purposes, Batgirl #50 marks the end of a highly entertaining era for the character. While we know that all DC Comics are about to rebirth themselves after their 52nd issues, Batgirl‘s creative team is breaking up. This is their final issue together (though they are going on as a team to another, creators owned project). Let’s save them for last.
First, the art, which is handled by the likes of Roger Robinson, John Timms, Eleonora Carlini and James Harvey, is really terrific. The nature of the story – Batgirl and members of her Batgirl Squad going up against various villains who’ve populated the last 15 issues of the book – lends itself to an artist-by-committee approach with each of the artists handling a different heroine and different villain. Without a key, it’s difficult for me to identify which artist handled which chapter, however, the lack of a key isn’t the only reason for that. Another is they each keep the “house style” established by Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr early on in their run and this issue is the better for it. While there is some stronger panel composition here and there, overall, the book looks very coherent and exciting. All of the artists handle their chapters very well (with assist from Stewart’s breakdowns here and there) and the give this 50th issue and this chapter in Batgirl’s life a terrific send off.
Babs Tarr, Cameron Stewart and Brendan Fletcher have been so terrific on this book that is very difficult to imagine it without them. In fact, this rebirth comes at a very, very good time because I don’t think it would be very good for other creators to try to follow this tone which almost perfectly captured Batgirl. It would be very hard for another team to write in this tone and in this voice and to bring Batgirl and her supporting cast to life in the way this group did.
Further, Tarr, Stewart and Fletcher are absolutely worth following to their next project. Look for it and pick it up. They have a creative synergy that can be compared to any of the best teams going today.
I will miss the Batgirl of Burnside. I’ll miss the storytelling prowess of the creative team and, though there are two issues left in this run, I think this 50th issue is just about perfect. I wish more comics were like this one.