By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
Bluebelle, huh? Well, at least it’s better than Catbird.
Yes, in this Gothtophia tie-in, Barbara Gordon is not Batgirl, her relationship with her mother is hunky dory, and her brother is apparently an emotionally stable individual. In Batgirl’s place we have Bluebelle, a hero clad in white and blue, who is more than grateful to have a family that loves her, and a fulfilling life. Her partner and best friend is Charise Carnes, who is the villainous Knightfall in the Gotham we know. But in this utopia, she patrols the city as Daybreak (which I think is meant to be a take-off of Nightwing). But when terror strikes at the Joker Ice Cream Factory, Bluebelle and Daybreak are forced to face a tragedy unlike any they’ve ever seen. And for Barbara, it may be time for a reality check…
From a story standpoint, this issue is pretty much what you’d expect. Babs enjoys her joyful reality, until she gradually realizes all is not what it seems. The Joker ice cream thing is a bit interesting, only because you’d think John Layman and Jason Fabok might want to use a Gothtopia version of him for the main story in Detective Comics. Perhaps they will, but for some reason he won’t have his clown motif. Either way, having the Joker hanging over the story is fitting for Barbara, given The Killing Joke is still somewhat canonical.
From a writing standpoint, the only other thing that stood out to me about this issue was something Barbara says via text box in the middle of the issue. It’s in a panel where Daybreak has fallen to the ground, and the first box we see says: “Okay, she’s a bit spoiled.” I can’t help but wonder if the word “spoiled” is a little wink at the audience related to Stephanie Brown and the Spoiler. Given Daybreak’s purple hood and cape, not to mention Charise’s long blond hair, it’s hard to imagine it’s a coincidence.
Robert Gill fills in on this issue, and does a decent job of it. His work didn’t make or break the issue as far as I’m concerned, though I did enjoy some of the enthusiasm he was able to inject into Barbara, particularly in the first few pages. There’s also a panel where she’s leaping across rooftops, and simply spreads her arms, enjoying the ride. He did a nice job of drawing a Barbara Gordon who is physically the same, yet still very different.
As a series, Batgirl has been frustrating for the past few months. In November, the issue crossed over with Zero Year, then in December we wrapped up the “Batgirl: Wanted” storyline, and now this month we’re in yet another crossover. There’s nothing wrong with the issues on their own, but we’re doing an awful lot of jumping around. Hopefully the series won’t get sucked into another cross over as we head into spring. It’s taken a couple of years, but I’m finally starting to get used to Gail Simone writing this Barbara Gordon, as opposed to the one she wrote in Birds of Prey.