Comic Vine Review

Comments

Batgirl #17 - Endure the Flame Review

4

Barbara and her father face one of their biggest threats: James Gordon Jr.

The Good

While this is no 'Black Mirror,' this issue of BATGIRL is still a fantastic look at James Gordon Jr. Beyond that, though, this is just a great Barbara Gordon 'Batgirl' story. The issue opens with Barbara Gordon seated and deep in her paperwork. We discover that she is sleeping very little and is doing her best to help her father and the GCPD track down suspects associated with the Joker and the events that transpired in 'Death of the Family.' First, it's great to see Barbara behind a desk. Dure, it's great to see her don the cape and cowl and patrol the streets, but any reminder of her days as the Oracle and any focus on the fact that she's got smarts is always fun to see.

The story is really gritty and also really well written. The way the issue is set up to deal with James Gordon Jr. and to involve all of Barbara Gordon's family is fantastic: it is definitely something that I felt was important to the story. Ever since this series started and since we saw the Black Mirror story arc play out last year, we haven't seen the entire family working collectively. Here we have everyone involved: Barbara, James Gordon, Barbara's Mother -- all these characters are dealing with James Gordon Jr. and the result we have here is a rather interesting story.

Like I said, it's a gritty, dark story but it is also one that paints Barbara as a really strong character. Her dialogue is strong and makes her seem intelligent and interesting, which is such a huge aspect of who she is. It's great to also see her feeding Commissioner Gordon vital information leading to the search and discovery of individuals who should be behind bars.

One of the more interesting things about this issue is the way that Fawkes writes James Gordon Jr. It almost feels as though he is crafting Barbara's brother out to be Barbara's own Joker. He exists for similar reasons that the Joker exists for Batman. Not only is this cool because it provides Barbara with an interesting and menacing opponent, but it makes her character appear more interesting.

The Bad

Things were getting pretty interesting up until the part where Firebug appeared, then the story sort of took a strange turn. It's hard to take the character seriously and I almost would have liked it better if the story had remained on the narrow path leading to James Gordon Jr. Either way, this is likely not the last time we've seen Gordon Jr. so it will be interesting to see when and how he resurfaces to torment Barbara.

The Verdict

Overall the art was great. The pencils were definitely gritty, something that complimented the nature of the story Fawkes was trying to tell. It would have bene nice if the colors hadn't been so bright and instead used heavier inks. I think that would have complimented this story a bit more.

This is a much darker Batgirl story and one of, dare I say, the most interesting I have read throughout this series. Like I mentioned above, the focus on the relationship between Barbara's family and Barbara's brother is really great. I want to see more of that and I hope that DC intends to mold Barbara's brother to be her very own personal Joker. I think that if written well, James Gordon Jr. can be incredibly menacing and that will certainly give creators a chance to demonstrate how Barbara can step up her game.

16 Comments
Posted by lifeboy

Nice going sara. You reviewed a lot of comics today. I always love wednesdays because I get to see what you and the crew reviewed. All those beautiful comics and stars! Thanks:-)

Posted by Fantasgasmic

The Bad for me would include the very misleading cover, and this Firebug character. Why not use Firefly, the established DC character that is practically identical and familiar to readers from now non-canon books like Batgirl Year One.

I agree that Jim Jr. could end up being the next Joker, or worse (for those of us who read Batman #17) and I'm excited to see where this story goes. Jr. could be a great nemesis for Barbara. He has no real interest with the rest of the Bat-family, and it would make a great dynamic.

I gave this one a 4/5, mostly because it's got great potential.

Posted by FlyingGrayson22

I'd be all for James Jr. being Barbra's Joker, if Snyder hadn't already perfectly set him up as Dick's Joker in The Black Mirror. But had I not read that, then I'd think it'd be a pretty awesome idea.

Posted by Manbehindthewires

no Simone = no purchase. loooking forward to her next run.

Posted by BatWatch

I'm pretty much with you on this issue. I thought Babs felt much more fleshed out as a character in this issue, but James Jr.'s motivations seem to be...vague at best, and the way Babs dealt with that rocket was flat out laughable.

The BatWatch Review is up.

@Fantasgasmic said:

The Bad for me would include the very misleading cover, and this Firebug character. Why not use Firefly, the established DC character that is practically identical and familiar to readers from now non-canon books like Batgirl Year One.

I agree that Jim Jr. could end up being the next Joker, or worse(for those of us who read Batman #17) and I'm excited to see where this story goes. Jr. could be a great nemesis for Barbara. He has no real interest with the rest of the Bat-family, and it would make a great dynamic.

I gave this one a 4/5, mostly because it's got great potential.

I also wondered why they did not go with Firefly, but to be fair, Firebug it a previously established character as well...if a bit of a redundant one. @Manbehindthewires said:

no Simone = no purchase. loooking forward to her next run.

So, why are you such a big Simone fan? This isn't a challenge; I've just been trying to understand why she has such a loyal fan base.

Posted by UltraBiel

@Manbehindthewires said:

no Simone = no purchase. loooking forward to her next run.

I'm gonna have it because I don't want to have numbers missing, but only because I know she is comming back!!

Posted by Manbehindthewires

@BatWatch said:

So, why are you such a big Simone fan? This isn't a challenge; I've just been trying to understand why she has such a loyal fan base.

I wouldn't consider myself a big Simone fan, but she writes a great Batgirl. Of late, batgirls have been a bit old fashioned, and typically weaker/less articulate than a lot of the other members of the Bat-family. Not to a huge extent, but enough to make her seem like a bit of a sidekick; a bit of a joke. I think Simone can be considered responsible for bringing back a credible, formidable Batgirl that can be taken seriously. I think this is down to Simone herself taking Batgirl seriously, and not as just treating her as another character she has to write for. This can be seen in Batgirls huge rise and sustained peak in sales since the beginning of New 52.

The reason for not picking up Batgirl, however, has less to do with Simone and more to do with her editor Brian Cunningham, for his decision to sack one of DC's best-selling writers without reason or explanation; the very reason behind this Simone-gap in Batgirl at the moment. I don't like the way DC has been shaking up it's creators and books lately, but that act was by far the most objectionable. I, like others, will not be picking up the non-simone batgirls simply to drive home to DC that they made a very poor move, and need to respect their writers more.

Edited by arnoldoaad

@Manbehindthewires said:

@BatWatch said:

So, why are you such a big Simone fan? This isn't a challenge; I've just been trying to understand why she has such a loyal fan base.

I wouldn't consider myself a big Simone fan, but she writes a great Batgirl. Of late, batgirls have been a bit old fashioned, and typically weaker/less articulate than a lot of the other members of the Bat-family. Not to a huge extent, but enough to make her seem like a bit of a sidekick; a bit of a joke. I think Simone can be considered responsible for bringing back a credible, formidable Batgirl that can be taken seriously. I think this is down to Simone herself taking Batgirl seriously, and not as just treating her as another character she has to write for. This can be seen in Batgirls huge rise and sustained peak in sales since the beginning of New 52.

The reason for not picking up Batgirl, however, has less to do with Simone and more to do with her editor Brian Cunningham, for his decision to sack one of DC's best-selling writers without reason or explanation; the very reason behind this Simone-gap in Batgirl at the moment. I don't like the way DC has been shaking up it's creators and books lately, but that act was by far the most objectionable. I, like others, will not be picking up the non-simone batgirls simply to drive home to DC that they made a very poor move, and need to respect their writers more.

so basically you dont like the character or even Gail that much for that matter you just dislike the editor, which by that logic you should just quit the book completely since Brian is still and Will still be the editor of the book and will most likely has his foot on Gail'x neck all the time

to be honest this issue was the first time in almost 2 years that Batgirl was likable and competent in the slightest in her own book and not just resolving in a never ending parade of victims and victimization

Edited by Manbehindthewires

@arnoldoaad:

Did I not say she writes a great Batgirl?

Did I not give the impression I'm enjoying the current Simone Batgirl and Simone's writing?

Did I not endlessly complement Simone, stating her as Batgirls saving grace?

Did you actually read my post?

Where did you get that I don't like the character?

Where did you get that I don't like Gail?

Where did you get that I did this to spite the editor, not that it was in the name of the books integrity?

I've liked Gails writing, I'm really interested to see how it turns out, now that Brian has upset her and disrupted her run. If she's half the writer I think she is, her impeccable writing will still shine through (pssst! that's me complementing her again, incase you missed it...)

What I'm really interested in, is how #17 would have looked if it had been written by Simone, I get the impression she had already written up, to and past 17, so out there somewhere is a simone script for this very book. Anyone else out there wonder how different/similar it would be?

Posted by arnoldoaad

What I'm really interested in, is how #17 would have looked if it had been written by Simone, I get the impression she had already written up, to and past 17, so out there somewhere is a simone script for this very book. Anyone else out there wonder how different/similar it would be?

well first of all in this chp Batgirl has no thoughtboxes, the narration is being made by James Jr

so if Gail was writing this then we would had have thoughtboxes of Batgirl complaining about how much her life Sucks every single page as it goes down on an spiral of depression and selfloating

so, it wouldnt had been improved in my opinion

Did I not say she writes a great Batgirl?

Well first of all thats your opinion, the reality is very different

but that opinion doesnt negate the fact that other writers can write a good batgirl

If she's half the writer I think she is, her impeccable writing will still shine through

thats really funny cause i think she is half the writer she was before since she started writing this piece of ableist crap

Posted by Manbehindthewires

@arnoldoaad said:

thats really funny cause i think she is half the writer she was before since she started writing this piece of ableist crap

...and according to you I'm the one who should be dropping this book altogether? Have you been reading Batgirl all this time and hating it? Or are you just jumping in for this brief moment of Simone-less-ness and then jumping out again?

Glad to see that "logic" of yours from the last post is still in working order ;)

Posted by derf_jenkins

I wish I could write Batgirl.

Posted by jacksonvillewriter

I didn't hate it. It was interesting that Fawkes started his 2 issue "run" on the series in James Jr's head, but to Simone's credit, she's been building to an inevitable confrontation from early in the series. He's been stalking her since issue four, I think. All of the darker elements of this story come directly from Simone. What Fawkes contributed to the story was a shift in perspective from Babs to James in the narrative and the problematic Firebug introduction which would have been ok if we hadn't all just watched the exact same story unfold on Arrow three weeks ago.

Posted by BatWatch

@Manbehindthewires:

It definitely seems like DC editorial has lost their minds at times. Beyond that, I don't really have much to say, but I appreciate your perspective on Batgirl and Simone.

@arnoldoaad:

I'm with you in that this is the first time Babs has seemed likable to me. She's just to stiff under Simone's guidance...and self-pitying.

Posted by AWeekInGeekdom

It's a shame Fawkes won't stick around, I thought this one was a serious contender for best Batgirl issue so far!

Posted by MSzekeresh

Does anyone else have trouble taking James serious as a villain? While I appreciate his complex relationship with his father and sister I just don't see him as a huge threat. It seems like he's just constantly whining about how his family betrayed him because he is crazy. I know that not everyone has to wear a mask but I can't help but feel that they need to make him more intimidating.