Yesterday I reviewed the Batman graphic novel of the “Death of the Family” storyline, and rated it quite well. Today it’s Batgirl’s turn in the same storyline…
From the start, I noticed the same heightened sense of impending doom that the Batman storyline had. Not a surprise since it’s a cross-over story. I was impressed with the ability to maintain a new take on the story that I had already read. The main problem with a cross-over story…is how do you maintain the same basic story without being completely dependent on the other comic, and yet not so completely independent that being part of the same story-line makes sense.
What Batgirl does is add a completely new element…a danger that is not faced by the other superheroes in the story-line. This one much more personal to her.
But unfortunately, the Batman, “Death of the Family” storyline gets second-hand trreatment here. It starts out impressive, showing batgirl’s major part in Joker’s play, but then, parhpas only half way through the book, it mirrors the Batman storyline. So much so that I actually wondered if they had used the same art and dialog for approximately ten pages. It somehow felt like cheating. I wasn’t get anything new here — no new observations of the same situation. No new reactions.
And then the Batman story-line seemed to be done and we were focussed, for nearly have the book, on the truly Batgirl story. This portion is about Batgirl (Barbara Gordon)’s brother, James. (Okay…I knew Batgirl was the daughter of the Police Commissioner, but I didn’t know she had a brother who had a history of crime.)
This is okay, because the story is engrossing and nearly as heightened as the Joker story, but it didn’t seem as if it were part of the same story any longer (writer Gail Simone tries, very hard, to tie the stories together).
Barbara as Batgirl’s seeming to be pushed to the edge, and possibly over, wanting to kill, seems to have been played a bit heavy-handed, We get it … it’s not like her … but we hear it over and over, making sure we understand that this is Batgirl on the edge of sanity or normalcy. It tries a little too hard to raise the stakes and bring that heightened sense of doom to the reader. Sometimes subtlety is a better tactic.
All in all… it was enjoyable to see another angle of the same story-line, even if it tied in only marginally. I’m glad I wasn’t shelling out my money for each separate issue of comic, because i definitely would have felt cheated along the way.
Looking for a good book? This is an interesting second look at the Batman storyline that goes off on its own tangent.
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Batgirl, Vol. 3: Death of the Family
author: Gail Simone
artist: Daniel Sampere
publisher: DC Comics
hardcover, 224 pages