Boom! Wham! Pow! The ComiQuad is a brand new column dedicated to the spandex-laden world of comics and superheroes. It goes up each Tuesday and will alternate between comic book reviews and other comic book news. Reviews shall try to be spoiler-free. Zam!
It was Ladies’ Night last Wednesday in Gotham City! Unfortunately, there was no time for leisure as Batwoman evaded the government, Harley Quinn made smart use of a gas oven, and Batgirl learned about the dangers of public transportation.
With its daily apocalypses, explosive superpowers, and psychotic villains, the Land of Comic Books sometimes loses its most critical component amidst the chaotic shuffle. Voice.
A character in any form of literature needs to be driven by his or her own unique brand of voice. It makes that person unique and worth listening to.
Voice is what makes Gail Simone’s Batgirl #3, and the series as a whole, an excellent story worth investing in.
Between her internal monologues, hypothetical conversations with her father, and undeniable fondness for those she loves, Barbara Gordon proves to be the perfect superhero for us mere mortals who are not endowed with Kryptonian heritage or a bajillion dollars.
The issue may not be jam-packed with progress against the series’ current antagonist (if anything, there’s the opposite), but it is filled with character progression. The relationship Barbara has with both her father and Nightwing are explored. The future conflict she’ll have with The Mirror (her foe) and an angry, determined cop are dealt with. Everything culminates into a springboard for next month’s “final showdown.”
Hopefully Batgirl can land on her feet after several issues of setbacks.
Suicide Squad #3
The Suicide Squad, in short, is a team of government-contracted villains who get knee-deep in the grit and grime of chores no one else wants to do. Assassinations, zombie slaughter, babysitting, etc. Being part of DC’s “The Edge” line, there is an expected level of violence, gore, and action for each issue.
Strangely enough, this issue eschews much of that violence for minor character development and a decision that sent me a rabid gorilla rage.
The minor character development comes between the Squad’s two more morally ambiguous “supervillains.” El Diablo seeks salvation despite his haunted past. Black Spider is a vigilante who sees salvation as hopeless. Their interaction offers an extra, unexpected level depth to the book’s dialogue.
That is until the comic takes five pages to utterly annihilate Harley Quinn’s character.
I’ll try to offer an assessment without spoiling too much. Harley is one of the small minority of female villains who doesn’t make her sexuality the be-all and end-all of her being. A core part of her character is her pure, unabashed love for the Joker. She wants no other man.
That changes in this issue. And it is not done tastefully.
The art in the issue is also sub-par when compared to the rest of The New 52. Characters’ eyes frequently seem dead, misdirected, or altogether missing in the comic. It’s a bizarre problem.
On the complete and total other opposite end of the artistic spectrum, there is Batwoman #3. If anyone ever needs any proof that comic books can act as a gorgeous artistic medium, this series deserves top billing.
The first several pages of the book offer the standard clashing of reds, blacks, whites, and blues that make the Batwoman covers stand out so well. The book also explores a variety of different art styles that coincide with different periods of Kate Kane’s (Batwoman’s) life. One page organizes the panels into the shape of a finger bone.
The story provokes a reaction similar to that of the art. It’s intriguing, it’s emotional, and it’s memorable. Like Batgirl #3, it dedicates a healthy amount of time to exploring Kate Kane’s relationships with different people in her life.
The one unfortunate consequence of the pages upon pages of glamorous art is the general lack of much story progression. For a story that progresses on a monthly basis, it feels very much like readers are at the same point as last month.