Batman Family 17 (April-May 1978)

This issue has a neat thread running through its three feature-length stories. The Huntress (from Earth-Two) comes to Earth-One for a visit. In the Batman story, she meets him and Robin. Then she teams up with Batgirl and Batwoman. For the finale, her going home sets off the events for Man-Bat and the Demon’s story. Gerry Conway and Jim Aparo’s Batman story is okay. Conway pauses on some character stuff–Batman meeting his “daughter”–but ignores other obvious moments, like Robin’s girlfriend being a shallow mean girl. Dick’s upset most of the issue, so his Aparo brow fits. And the ending twist’s decent. Bob…

Batgirl 3 (January 2012)

Even after a terrible opening–Simone finishes her cliffhanger without a proper recap, I still don’t know what happened or why–Batgirl starts to recover. And it does so against some substantial odds. Besides the weak open, Syaf can’t draw regular people. He’s a fine superhero artist, but when he’s got to do two people talking, it bombs. It’s like he doesn’t understand actual facial expression, but understands it exists. He ruins an otherwise good scene (between Jim and Barbara). Then, on the writing high point, Simone brings in Nightwing. Now, I’ve sort of read all the content before–it’s Barbara and Dick flirting and…

Batgirl 2 (December 2011)

The point, to me, of a Barbara Gordon Batgirl comic is Barbara Gordon. And on some level, Gail Simone is with me. The comic comes (albeit slowly) to life when Barbara shows up in her civilian life. It also perks up when Batgirl, the cheeriest (traditionally) of the Batman Family, is out in the daylight. But Simone doesn’t have a lot of Barbara or daytime in the comic. Instead, there’s more protracted “unsure Batgirl in action” sequences. I was hesitantly onboard with the book last issue and the first half of this issue had me ready to shred it. The second half…

Batgirl 1 (November 2011)

I like Ardian Syaf. I’d never heard of him before Batgirl but he does a good job. The big question of a Barbara Gordon Batgirl comic is how Gail Simone is going to handle The Killing Joke. She handles it like it’s 1991 and Barbara’s getting over it. That approach is at once the issue’s greatest strength and weakness. Simone does it all quite well–victim recovering and so on. But it makes Batgirl a decidedly retro book–and it’s a good one. Syaf’s style is in line with the never explicitly identified DC house style of the eighties. He’s good at action, good…

Detective Comics 514 (May 1982)

What a weak issue. I mean… it’s really weak. It’s competent in a way someone spending sixty cents might not complain, but it’s not good at all. The feature is a Maxie Zeus story. Batman’s hunting him through a snow storm. There’s a scene where Dick and Alfred talk about worrying about him. It’s like they’re his wives waiting at home–which may or may not be a good take on the relationships, but Wein doesn’t explore it. Instead, he introduces this hippie mountain man who loves all life. Maxie Zeus eventually kills him (after the mountain man loses it because Zeus kills…