July 27, 2012

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Ame-Comi II: Batgirl 1-3

Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti
Illustrated by Sanford Greene
DC

Poison Ivy's on the prowl, but Batgirl and Robin are on the case.  But Ivy's got some powerful backup, leading to Robin seeking some help of her own while Batgirl tries to get to the bottom of the villainous vixens' strange ally.  The unlikely alternative universe continues in this next set of digital-first issues from the writing pair of Gray and Palmiotti.

I still have no idea why this exists, but it's been a fun ride so far, thanks to the Palmiotti-Gray team, who work so well together.  Their style is not exactly subtle, but it's always entertaining.  They concentrate on telling a story and not showing off how clever they are as writers, and sometimes that's exactly what I want from a comic.

The approach gets an interesting test here, with the two being allowed to create their own DC Universe.  The idea of having Commissioner Gordon paralyzed and Barbara out fighting the good fight was a nice touch.  On the other hand, writing Harley as infuriatingly dumb and possibly homophobic to boot isn't their finest moment.  Still, getting to see how they work in this world of hypersexualized female costumes is interesting.  I did notice that this time, no comments were made about the suits, so I wonder if they got told to knock that off after repeated jabs in the Wonder Woman series.

This time around, we don't get much in the way of an origin, as this mini is used mostly to set up the major players on both sides, including John Henry Iron's daughter (I think) as Steel, in what I thought was a nice touch.  She's shown as being super-smart with a quick wit, and I'm sad she doesn't get a mini-series focus, unlike both Power Girl and Supergirl (which feels like overkill).  There's a great set of battles between Batgirl, Robin, Poison Ivy, Catwoman, and Harley that take up most of these issue, filled with the usual Palmiotti-Gray banter.  If you like their style (I do), then you'll find yourself at home.  On the other hand, if you tend to dislike the old-school patter mixed with modern quips, this is going to be a slog, as that's most of the dialogue.

I'm unfamiliar with Sanford Greene, but I liked his work here.  He doesn't play up the costumes any more than he has to, and in contrast to Amanda Conner, has a style that looks a bit more in-line with the anime theme of the original statues.  There's an angular look to the characters and they move in ways that fans of Japanese animation will instantly recognize.  He does a great job with layouts, only occasionally putting together a page that requires a few moments to figure out.  (Some of that might have to do with trying to make this comic work for both phones and tablets.)  I really like that some of the views are at odd angles, which brings a fresh look to the series, and he makes Duela Dent's ship look incredibly creepy.  Props also for managing to make that ridiculous Dent costume somewhat reasonable by actually simplifying it.  Overall, Greene's work gives a look and feel that suits this series quite well and makes each female character look distinctive and true to their personalities, as shown by Palmiotti and Gray.

So far, Ame-Comi has been a fun read that I look forward to every three weeks (I pick up all three parts at once), taking a stupid concept that I would not have pictured enjoying in a million years and making it work. This one ends with Batgirl in big trouble, with a promise to reveal secrets big and small in the next series, which focuses on Duela Dent.  Right now, at only 99 cents an issue, this is on my recommended list, assuming you can get past the outfits.