Pour Out a 40

Comics these days seem to be full of endings and final issues and cancellations. And this week was the one for unexpected tearjerkers.

Batgirl #24

It’s the final issue of Stephanie Brown’s Batgirl series, as so wonderfully brought to the page by Bryan Q. Miller. The mastermind behind the Reapers stands revealed — and it’s Stephanie’s father, the Cluemaster! It was all part of a twisted plot to keep tabs on his daughter, and now that it’s all out in the open, he shows his latest hobby: gardening. Specifically, growing alien Black Mercy plants. He crushes them to a powder, then blows the powder into Steph’s face, but before she succumbs to the plant’s hallucinogenic powers, she still manages to defeat her father. She awakens in the hospital a few days later, learns that her mother knows her secret identity, and gets to have a rooftop chat with Babs Gordon. So what did Steph see while she was under the Black Mercy’s influence?

What follows are a half-dozen fantastically awesome splash pages depicting Stephanie’s fondest desires, ranging from just plain kicking butt as Batgirl, getting to travel back in time with Babs and Cassandra Cain as the other Batgirls to meet the Blackhawks during World War II, battling evil in a fantasy kingdom, and earning a Blue Lantern power ring (while Oracle gets a very well-deserved Green Lantern ring).

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s all awesome, from beginning to end. I’m glad Bryan Q. Miller got to give Stephanie a proper farewell, and I’m going to miss this comic and this character an awful lot.

Hats off for Batgirl, everyone.

Hellboy: The Fury #3

I don’t know if I can review this one without spoilers or not. We’ll see — but the secret about how this ends hasn’t been very well hidden anyway…

England is getting completely wrecked up by a gigantic, catastrophic lightning storm, all while Hellboy battles a dragon — in fact, while he battles The Dragon, the one who’s supposed to bring about the Apocalypse. While fighting on a field that’s foretold to be the site of Ragna Rok. Alice, Hellboy’s new girlfriend, is trying to get to him to help out somehow. She learns from Queen Mab what the world’s grim future holds. Mab says that Hellboy can’t win, and he won’t be able to help the B.P.R.D. fight off the horrors that will come about in the aftermath. But can Hellboy prevail? Can he get any last-second aid from friends in the spirit world? Can he defeat the Dragon? Can he survive?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s… not the ending I would’ve wanted, but it feels right, and so it’s the right ending. I didn’t spoil anything, did I? Whether I did or not, it’s an absolutely masterful comic.

The first letter in the letter column is a short note to Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, from a little kid, handwritten on lined paper. He closes it by saying, perfectly, in a way you could only come up with if you were still trying to figure your way around the English language:

“Would you want to kill Hellboy? I hope not, because I would plead you not to.”

And I got a little teary about that.

Hats off for Hellboy, everyone.

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