Batgirl #47: As Barbara herself frets in this issue, Stewart and Fletcher are covering previously tread ground as she again struggles with her memory. If I'm following the crumbs that they've left us correctly, a Bloom-like figure is affecting her memory through her dreams.
But, the problem is that, based on what we've seen, he's not just affecting her memory; it seems like he's affecting reality itself. For example, Barbara tells Luke in this issue that she refuses to build the negahedron because she can't be sure that she's got the schematics right from memory. That night, Not-Bloom restructures her memory to make it seem like she had agreed to build it. But, his plan only works if he changed reality, not her memory: he'd have to have gotten her retroactively to agree to build it. After all, if he just changed her memory, she'd still have said no to Luke. If she showed up the next day believing that she had said yes, he'd clearly know that something was wrong. In fact, Not-Bloom would've also had to have changed her feelings as well: otherwise, she could've woken up the next morning, remembered that she agreed to build it, dismissed that decision as odd, and again decided not to build it. In another example, we now know that she tipped off the cops to the gang-banger whose mother she met a few issues ago. But, it was pretty clear that Babs had no intention of calling the cops when she met the woman. As such, her memory is correct: she didn't call the cops. For her to have called the cops, Not-Bloom would have to have gotten her retroactively to call the cops (after she decided not to do so) and then made her forget that she did so.
In other words, it's a mess. Thrown into the mix, we've also got Babs' friend Greg rifling through her underwear drawer. He arrived after Babs started having memory problems, so I'm hoping that he's not Not-Bloom (because it's too obvious), but, the way this series is going, I wouldn't be surprised. I have a few other nitpicks from this issue -- like Spoiler knowing that Corporal Punishment has "electric muscles" in their fight with her at the GCPD -- but it doesn't seem worth it to mention. This series is already sinking, so I don't need to add weight to it.
[On a side note, this issue seems to hint where "Batman" is going in the next few issues. First, we see the "Batman Army" that Geri Powers seems to activate in issue #48 (but we don't actually see), and Gordon for the first time complains about a corrupt Powers using the GCPD as her own army.]
* (one of five stars)
Batman and Robin Eternal #16: I should love this issue. The story is everything that I've ever wanted. St. Dumas uses the Ichthys virus that the Order created for Mother to force Red Hood to re-live his worst fear: his death at the hands of the Joker. This time, though, Ichthys gives him the chance to change the outcome; the catch is that he'll succumb to the virus -- and become a mindless assassin for Mother -- if he wins. We learn that Ichthys works by making the subject lose all fear -- and, thus, his humanity -- if he defeats his worst fear through strength. Tim is somehow able (in a way that the authors don't explain) to infiltrate Jason's nightmare and convince him that he's not a psychopath: he's always been a hero, a Robin. Believing him, Jason allows the Joker kill him again to prove it. When he awakens from the nightmare, he tells Tim that he hasn't been OK for a long time, but he thinks that he might be on that path now. The issue ends with Jason observing that Bruce thought that he was building an army of child soldiers as Mother was, but they decided to become a family instead. It's their weapon against Mother, and it's a brilliant observation on the part of Snyder and Tynion. (It does take away the agency from Bruce for creating that family, a position that I hope Snyder and Tynion correct by the end of the series). We're left feeling like it's the moment, where Jason definitely returns to the Bat-family. It's the one that I though we had at the end of "Death of the Family," but later came undone when Bruce ruined it in his drive to resurrect Damian. The only reason that I didn't love this issue is that something in the execution is wrong. I've always found Lanzing and Kelly's scripts lacking in heart, doing little more than conveying information and not emotion. This issue is another example of that. Moreover, the use of three artists means that we don't get the consistent facial expressions and body language that we need to really feel these moments -- everyone has oddly frozen smiles or blank faces. I'm going to try not to imagine what Tomasi and Capullo could've done with this story and just be happy that we may be seeing Jason's continuing (and possible final) return.
*** (three of five stars)
Dragon Age: Magekiller #2: When the Archon tells Marius and Tessa that their target is the four leaders of the Venatori, I realized that we were dealing with a time period before the Rift opened in "Dragon Age: Insurrection." I was -- and continue to be -- excited about this development, since the game itself never went into much detail about the Venatori. They were simply the cult that helped Corypheus put his plans into motion, full stop. To be honest, Rucka doesn't go into too much more detail about them here, either. Marius and Tessa make quick work (if you consider three hits involving careful planning "quick") of the first three leaders, only to discover that the last one, Calpernia, is Marius' former lover. Along the way, we begin piecing together Marius' past, learning that he was a slave that somehow earned his freedom. I'm still confused why the first issue implied that Marius actually forgot his past, as opposed to wanting to forget it, but it seems likely that Rucka will delve into it further, particularly because we still need the scoop on his relationship with Calpernia. All we know at this point is that Marius calls off the hit on her and that he and Tessa spend months fleeing the Archon's assassins for their betrayal. Rucka then confirms the story's time frame on the last page when we see the Rift open above the pair, moments after they've dispatched the latest group of assassins. At this point, I'm intrigued to see where Rucka takes us, because he's got so many options: Marius' past as a slave, his relationship with Calpernia, the status of the Venatori now that three of its leaders have been killed, the opening of the Rift, etc. Looking at that, it's actually probably too many options, but we'll see which ones Rucka tackles.
*** (three of five stars)