Mary-Sue Interviews the Batgirl team

Recently The Mary Sue was able to sit down with the Batgirl creative team to discuss the publics reaction to the brand new more hipster Babs and her more cyber villains. Overall the interview is great and it gives me a lot of hope for the series but some parts of it left me shaking my head a little. For once it’s DC Fan’s I’m annoyed with rather than DC itself because you know the patriarchy likes to shake things up.

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Harley Quinn One Hot Mess

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Do you like casual racism, Jewish stereotypes and dripping misogyny? Then Harley Quinn vol. 1: Hot in the City is perfect for you. This book started out so bad I wanted to make other people read it just to spread the pain around a little and confirm that I could in fact still read and was not suffering the elaborate effects of a brain tumor. However around the point where Harley becomes the sidekick to a geriatric cyborg that nanar style enjoyment had faded into boredom. By the end, I was pissed off that any of that actually went to print because it means multiple people in DC read this and went “yeah that’s good, print away.”

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Holy Batgirl it’s actually good!

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*Minor spoilers ahead*

The last Batgirl reboot had me in one of my longest facebook arguments to date about body dysmorphia and female superheros. The reboot was all about Batgirl regaining her powers and as it was written by Gail Simone, creator of Women in Refrigerators, it’s safe to say my hopes may have been a little to high. I found Simone’s Bab’s to be a little to focused on her fear. While she always does save the day, Batgirl’s internal monologue was all about how weak she was. The world tells me I’m weak, I don’t need my superheros saying it too. Even though she triumphed and I assume we were all supposed to be cool with her realistically gaining confidence story line, it wasn’t what I wanted. I also found her focus on how many muffins she was eating to be a distracting show of the differences in portrayal of male and female characters. To wit, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Bruce Wayne eat and if he was he didn’t give a damn about calories. I was all the disappoint.

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So here I am, wanting to like Batgirl for trying and actually liking them for the landmark inclusion of a Trans-character when along comes hipster batgirl. As I told you before I’m all about the YA crowd, yeah I’m that cliche.  I’m also the hipster hating but loves to watch them sparkle cliche.

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The comic starts off with Bab’s moving to Gotham’s Williamsburg, Alysia is there to help ease the transition to the new space and we get the first hint of the trouble to come. We cut directly to Bab’s housewarming hangover including finding and not remembering the name of hot dude she was making out with the night before . I was literally all a squee on the subway over this and here’s why, there’s a total lack of slut shaming. No one gives her any shit over her behavior. It’s startlingly refreshing to read.

The next thing I noticed was the amount of people of color. I swear it’s like the writers/artist actually live in a city. It wasn’t just crowd scenes that had a diverse showing, Barbara interacts with numerous people of different ethnicities in a gloriously non-token fashion. It’s a nice thing to just have. I hadn’t read any media reports, or maybe I just missed them if they came out, that this reboot was going to specifically include characters of color. Obviously this doesn’t mean that racial representation is any where close to ok in comics, it’s just a nice step along the way.

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The villain was a little over the top for my taste but I’ve always found DC villains to be a little cartoonish. However the story line about stolen data hits especially close to home given the recent theft and distribution of celebrity nudes. Everything about this comic gives the impression that  Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher actually know their audience. It’s still frustrating that on a creative team of nine there are only two women but at least the story they’re telling is good and shows awareness of the crap women have to put up with. There was really only one totally needless butt shot that I caught which is a sad high water mark. That being said Babs Tarr’s art and Maris Wicks’ colors set the perfect tone for the comic.

I spent the whole comic both giddy with glee over how good it was and waiting on the edge of my seat for DC to fuck it up somehow. It’s exactly how I felt reading the new Mrs. Marvel. I was just waiting for it to go wrong and given DC’s track record of being totally tone deaf to women on good days I don’t think anyone can blame me. I’m beyond pleased to say that now both of the big two now have young female characters that focus more on being superheros than being female superheros. These are comics I wish I’d had growing up and I’m glad these stories are finally being told.

This is one title I’m proudly adding to my pull list.

Gotham Academy Leaves Us Whelmed

I”m a huge sucker for teen school stories. I loved New X-Men: Academy X (Remember that title? No? Neither does anyone else don’t worry) so much that when House of M basically destroyed the series I stopped reading comics for a few months. I mourned that shit. I take my YA titles seriously. To me there’s something empowering about titles that focus on students. It may be because I was a teacher in a past life but anytime you have a chance to imply with the setting that education is important and create characters that tell kids they don’t have to wait to grow up to make a difference I’m in. Which means when I heard about Gotham Academy I knew I was going to have to sink my money into that dead tree.

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I did really enjoy the main character Olive Silverlock, I mean once I got over the whole we named her after her hair because that’s not ridiculous at all thing. Her sidekick Maps Mizoguchi, who also happens to be Olive’s ex’s kid-sister seemed a little too dumb to live for my taste. She seems utterly clueless about Olive and her brother’s break up even though it’s implied they were friends before the split. I know she’s supposed to come off as a flighty young kid but to me the character just didn’t feel authentic. I also wasn’t terribly pleased that Olive’s story seems to revolve around being dumped (I assume it’s never really explained how the break happens) and feeling like an outsider. Is it so much to ask for a story that’s just about women and not their relationship to men. I’m really hoping the breakup storyline goes somewhere beyond youthful heartache but as this is DC I’m not holding my breath on the matter.

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I did like Olive’s whole remembering who she is moment at the end when she decides to be daring once again. The story implies a few strange things going on at the Academy and Bruce makes an appearance at the end because come on the Bat is everywhere. This comic wasn’t bad but I wish it had a stronger storyline to make me want to read issue two. The art was great, the writing was good not great. Unfortunately I was really I was hoping for more. The boarding school trope has been used before and better in comics like Morning Glories. I’m going to keep reading this title because while the first issue didn’t make my head explode there was enough good in it for me to want to keep going. There were just enough questions left that I want to see where they go with it but I’m not getting my hopes up.