- Posted by Johanna on July 18, 2010 at 1:34 pm
- Category: Superhero Reviews
- CREDITS: written by Bryan Q. Miller; pencilled by Lee Garbett and Pere Perez; inked by Walden Wong and Pere Perez
- PUBLISHER: DC Comics; $2.99 US
When too-full-of-themselves creators break the girl toys, at least the Bat-franchise has lesser-known writers who find ways to make them work in new ways. The most obvious example is Batgirl, who after Alan Moore crippled her as a plot device, was reinvented by writer couple Kim Yale and John Ostrander as Oracle, information source for the DC universe. Now, Bryan Miller is cleaning up Dan Didio’s mess from two years ago. In Teen Titans #62, Didio directed the fanboy in-joke of returning Wendy, Marvin, and Wonderdog to continuity only to turn it into a gore-fest. (Because that’s what readers of superhero teen teams want in Didio’s world: carnage.)
Ahem. Stupid as that idea and its aftermath was, I’ve been impressed by Miller’s reinvention of Wendy. Not to mention Stephanie Brown, who also was sacrificed as a plot device, only to now proudly carry the name of Batgirl. Daughter of the villain Cluemaster, she was killed after daring to take the name Robin, in a story that also ruined the supporting character Dr. Leslie Thompkins for no good reason. (Thank you, Bill Willingham, for once again making me queasy over the way you write women.) No one thought she was good enough for the title, usually for no reason other than that she was female. The guy who couldn’t manage to rescue her from a villain’s clutches and torture doesn’t get to tell her whether or not she can be a hero, in my book.
(Outside the comics, this event led to the forming of a feminist fan group, Girl-Wonder.org, over dismay at how previous Robins had been honored with memorials in the Bat-Cave, whether or not they stayed dead, while DC refused to do the same for the female version. That campaign has ended, but clearly, Willingham and others still need to learn from it, since making violent threats to those who criticize your comics and your politics isn’t particularly funny. After he ruined Shadowpact, good riddance to him on JSA.)
But now there’s hope! In the few issues I’ve read of this title so far, Batgirl has been mentored by Oracle, but the older woman has been kidnapped by the Calculator and put into some kind of mindscape. Batgirl’s going to rescue her, with the aid of Wendy, who it turns out is the Calculator’s daughter. She’s got computer skills, like Oracle, but although she’s in a wheelchair, Wendy’s also shown flying a rescue plane.
I admit, I didn’t get all the psycho background stuff Miller is doing to flesh out the villain, but that wasn’t the part I cared about. I really enjoyed seeing women fighting together and supporting each other. It’s nice to see some writer in the DCU other than Gail Simone crafting stories this way. I like that the “victim” got to be the one to ultimately take down the villain, with the support of the heroes. I like the way the women sound different and have different motivations. To those who think getting help weakens Batgirl as a character, I say, it’s more honestly female to consider collaboration a strength instead of a concern.
And I like this message. Sure, Wendy’s new role is very close to Oracle’s, but DC has a handful of Flashes, a Super-Family, and a whole squadron of Green Lanterns. Why not a few more brilliant and beautiful information goddesses who demonstrate you don’t need to be able to walk to be heroic? Thank you, Bryan Miller, for turning Didio’s cardboard victim into someone I want to read more about, as part of this fascinating group of women, instead of leaving her behind. I hope we see more of Wendy in Batgirl, which I’ll be following. Maybe now that they’re fleshing out the supporting roles with new and reclaimed female characters, the next step is seeing more women carrying their own titles.