Death of the Family Review: Batgirl #15 by Gail Simone & Daniel Sampere; Plus Simone’s E-Firing

Death of the Family Review:  Batgirl #15

“Engagement”

Published by DC Comics

Written by Gail Simone

Art by Daniel Sampere

Coloured by Ulises Arredla

When I was purchasing this comic I had just learned from an LCS staff about Gail Simone’s future with this book.  I could not get this out of my head as I was reading this issue and I’ll have more to say about it at the conclusion of the review in a special addition.

The Plot

This issue begins with the Joker being held at Arkham Asylum while discussing his journal with Dr. Yi.  Back to the present and he is skating around while Batgirl is extremely livid with him for hurting her mother.  Back to the past and the Joker starts to play his real game with Dr. Yi, which upsets her greatly.  Annnndddd back to the present, where the Joker is telling Batgirl to make her decision.  She agrees to marry him in order to save her mother.  She is also justifiably angry with her brother James for setting her up.  Meanwhile a distraught Alysia calls James and he agrees to pick her up and begins to have an eventual change of heart with his recent actions.  Batgirl turns the tables on the Joker and warns his henchmen to clear the building.  She viciously beats him up and seriously contemplates hurting him even worse in a way that is somewhat familiar.  However, she finds that there are now a bunch of victims surrounding her and that his henchmen still haven’t left him.  She decides to follow his succinctly written list of directions to follow.  At the church, the priest apologizes to her and the wedding party is there to greet her.  Back to the Joker and Dr. Yi, he reveals what exactly he has planned for his bride to be.

The Breakdown

This was a good issue.  Batgirl’s reaction and her anger almost getting the best of her were effectively done.  Her thought process behind everything was also well done as it made it much more believable that she was ready to cross the line with him.  Her reaction didn`t seem at all forced.  At first I was annoyed that she took him out with such ease, but then it was revealed as a part of his plan.  In addition, everything that was happening to her thus far fit in well with the Joker’s overall plan with the Bat-family.  The cliffhanger at the end of the book was also pretty good because it genuinely seems like the Joker’s style and it helped to build some anticipation for the next issue.  The cliffhanger last issue was a great one and I enjoy it when the next one is just as effective for building up the story.  Sampere’s rendition of the Joker prior to having his face cut off was very nice to look at.  Also, the Joker testing Batgirl’s limits really helped to make the proposal cliffhanger from the last issue much more than a shock ending.  His plans for her are disturbing and I’m also looking forward to what happens between James and Batgirl next month.  The Joker`s interaction with Dr. Yi was also some classic Joker and I want to see where it goes.  This was a very solid middle chapter to a story.

BUT…

I still didn’t care for Batgirl tearing up the way that she was.  She is very familiar with the Joker and she has to know that showing him too much emotion would doom her.  I’m not saying the situation that she’s in with her mother is easy by any means, but with the Joker one should know to expect anything.  I hope that the change with James is explained more next issue because it just seemed to be a pretty big 180 out of nowhere.  Nonetheless, I’m sure that this will be addressed.  Also, I`m not sure if Barbara`s mother knows about her alter-ego because I`m not completely up to speed on neither the character nor the series.  However, she was looking at her face to face and up close.  I just don`t buy that she wouldn’t recognize her own daughter being that close to her even if she was under a lot of duress.  Like I mentioned though, it could already be known and I could be griping for no reason.  It wasn`t a huge issue for me, but the thought crossed my mind immediately as I was reading it.

Buy It, Borrow It, Shelf Read It, or Ignore It?

Buy It.  It’s rare that tie-in issues actually add a lot to the main story and this one is doing just that.  The long awaited confrontation between the Barbara Gordon Batgirl and the Joker has definitely not been anticlimactic.  The Joker storyline will continue next month and I’m looking forward to it.  An enjoyable read and it`s refreshing that nothing has felt like filler thus far.

The Final Word

Gail Simone has been one of the most prolific female writers.  I actually hate typing the word female there because some of her work has been great regardless of gender.  One of my all-time favorite series is Secret Six.  She is able to blend humour, action, and drama together so seamlessly.  She took on a series that had difficulties from the start with fans of Stephanie Brown or people that loved Barbara’s role as an ambassador for people living with disabilities pretty much writing this series off from the start.  In addition, it wasn’t like there was a huge fan base begging for her to return to the cowl.  I admit that I wasn’t clamouring for this comic to be released, but what I have read I have enjoyed.  Also, this title has enjoyed decent sales under Simone’s watch despite having those aforementioned setbacks right off the start.  She has done some great work over the years and she simply deserves better than what she got.  People get fired or laid-off all of the time in any industry.  However, to be told via email is so disrespectful and the negative publicity that comes with this decision is well-deserved.  I’m not sure what happened behind the scenes, but to have it come to this is disturbing.  She has helped to keep DC relevant during some difficult times and I hope that this relationship is mended sometime in the future.  It seems that there were some editorial difficulties and this comes as no surprise as it has been stated that some other series were negatively affected by editorial decisions (i.e. Static Shock).  Whatever Gail Simone does in the future I’ll definitely be watching and supporting it.  Word is that she’s going to be working on some independent stuff and I can’t wait to see her cut loose with that.  She`s talented as well as very courteous and gracious with her fans that I can`t help but wish nothing but the best for her.

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