Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Batgirl #45 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

OMG, squee!

I was nervous reading this issue.  Seriously.  I kept having to stop myself from rushing to the end to see what happened.  But, I wasn't nervous because I was afraid that Barbara would be killed or Luke would be injured.  It wasn't like when the Mirage crashed Betty Brant's wedding in "Amazing Spider-Man" #156.  This issue is about people that also happen to be superheroes and the relationships between them.

Everyone is totally on their game here as Stewart and Fletcher tell a long overdue story about Babs and Dick.  Dick crashes Alysia's wedding, engaging in childish antics (stealing the ring and forcing Babs to chase him across the rooftops) to get Babs' attention.  He then delivers a really moving speech about how Barbara is "home" to him.  But, as he tries to kiss her, Babs lays down the law.  She (thankfully) tells Dick that he left her.  He forced her to mourn for him when he faked his death, and he has to own that.  Moreover, it would've been one thing if he had taken her to coffee to have this conversation; instead, he ruins her day, taking her from her best friend's wedding and jeopardizing her relationship with Luke.  (The authors give us an adorable moment where Babs tells Dick that she's with Luke, and Luke and she then have a sotto voce conversation about that assertion.)

But, Stewart and Fletcher aren't too hard on Dick:  sure, he's an asshole here, but they remind us why he's an asshole.  After all, he's there because he's lost, alone in a battle that Batman asked him to fight and that he no longer knows if he should be fighting.  He's blinded to Babs as anything other than the woman he wants her to be, but he also comes to that realization when Babs brings him to it.  Our last sight of Dick is him sadly watching Babs dance with Luke, but it's clear that said sadness comes from the fact that he knows that he's really lost her.

I love Barbara and Dick as a couple, and I'd be lying if I didn't find myself hoping for the day that they're together.  But, the whole point of this relaunch is Babs building her own life.  The good news is that life -- and the people in it -- is on full display here.  Alysia, Frankie, Dinah, Luke:  they're all part of it.  Dick isn't.  They shouldn't be together now, and I'm proud of Babs for acknowledging that.  (Plus, um, Luke isn't exactly a consolation prize.  He is 100% catch.)

Again, it's an issue about relationships, the type of issue that I wish we got to see more often.  It's successful not only because of Stewart and Fletcher's insightful takes on these characters, but also Tarr's amazing art.  She conveys the emotions of the characters so beautifully that it's hard to imagine anyone else drawing this issue.  (That cover is amazing.)

In other words, I love everything about this issue.

***** (five of five stars)

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