October 2, 2009

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Showcase Presents Batgirl

Written by John Broome and Various Writers
Illustrated by Carmine Infantino, Gil Kane, Curt Swan, Don Heck, and Various Artists
DC

You don't need a bat computer to figure out I was very disappointed in this collection. While I figured that the comics would be a bit sexist here and there, I had no idea how poorly Barbra was written as Batgirl, having basically grown up with her as the extremely powerful information broker Oracle.

I really like Babs Gordon as a character. She's smart, pretty, exceptionally strong (before the Joker harmed her), and able to take on just about anything. Not even the horrors visited upon her by the Joker and having a Dick for a boyfriend can slow her down.

Unless of course she's being written by a bunch of pandering idiots who can't bare to let her shine on her own. That's the case here, as we get "over 500 pages of comics!" where Babs is treated like a girl, a primadonna, a frail creature, etc. She worries about her looks, she tries to impress guys, she's given stupid things to fight--at one point, she must save a model who will pick the next dress fashions--and she often needs some male character to bail her out.

Perhaps the most annoying part of all this is her sometime-boyfriend who's a wanna-be detective with a bum leg. Now there's nothing wrong with a disabled person being given a starring role, but his usage just makes the writing of Babs even worse. Batgirl is athletic, but it's often a *lame man* who has to help save her. Just what does that tell you about either editorial or the writers in relation to Batgirl?

If this was one of the 1950s collections, I could almost understand. But we're in 1975 by the time we're done here, for God's sake. And while the last few stories are a bit better than the early ones, Babs is still seen as needing saved all the time.

There's very little reason for reading this one, I'm afraid. The artwork, with the exception of a little Curt Swan and Gil Kane action, is pretty poor (Don Heck's section looks like he scribbled it on a napkin, though perhaps that's a problem with the reproduction.) Combined with the infuriating plots and dialog, this was a plodding read and a total disappointment. Ms. Gordon is far better off as Oracle, if this is the best they can do for her as a crime fighter. Ugh!


I like reading old comics, but sometimes it might have been better to leave them in the bargain bin. You can do better with other collections, I think.