The state of breakfast in comics is a travesty. When was the last time you saw Green Lantern eat pancakes? Or Wolverine enjoying some sausage links with his eggs? (He could skewer them on his claws.) Bryan Q. Miller, thankfully, opens Batgirl #19 with Stephanie Brown staring down into her waffles, pouring syrup as she monologues about the destructive nature of chaos until she sees her reflection in the viscous amber goo filling the crevices of her breakfast. The syrup gazes also.
In my review of the last issue of Batgirl, I attributed to the series a “Buffy vibe” where Miller jumps from “mythology” stories (anything involving The Order of the Scythe) to fun one-off issues (Supergirl and Batgirl fighting Draculas). Batgirl #19 is of the former, the first installment of a two-parter where our hero must fight a speedster villain called Slipstream, who wouldn’t be out of place in an episode of Batman Beyond. In the world of Batgirl, he’s a much greater obstacle.
Miller’s experience as a TV writer really helps this book. Knowing how to write within the short framework of an hour minus nearly 20 minutes of commercials, he brings that skill into the world of comics, where he only has 20 pages to convince people to buy the next issue. As a result, Batgirl #19 covers an amazing amount of ground, so much that it puts the work of some comics’ superstars to shame. We get some secret identity stuff to show that Stephanie Brown’s being run ragged, some B-plot of Proxy being set up to take over for Oracle, a fight scene, and new toys for Batgirl to play with. In other words, we have as much character development as we do costumed antics. Moreover, it’s well-paced, never feeling cluttered or rushed.
Despite what the cover credits say about the presence of Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs, Ramon Bachs is the actual artist of the issue. And he’s a solid addition to the talent thus far -- besides Nguyen, Pere Perez and Lee Garbett drew some good issues during the teens of the series. Bachs is the cartooniest so far -- he really nails the silly facial expressions on these characters. He does his best work on the hapless but well-meaning Grey Ghost, who Miller’s imported and updated from the (really, really good) episode of Batman: The Animated Series. Thankfully, he also handles the fight scene pretty well.
I got into Batgirl late in the game, having skimmed the first few issues and only really getting interested in the super-fun Batgirl/Supergirl team-up issue (#14). Then came the hilarious Robin team-up (#17) issue and I declared myself a full-on Batgirl enthusiast. Now, I’m chomping at the bit to track down the back issues and find out just what else I’d been missing this whole time that I wasn’t reading Batgirl. You (yes, you) should do the same and realize the error of your ways. Batgirl is the superhero comic you need in your life.
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