This issue introduces us to a new supporting character in the Bat-family, one who we’ve actually seen a few times in the background of previous stories. Meet Harper Row, a young lady living in a rough neighborhood. She works as an electrician underneath Gotham City, trying to keep the city’s aging infrastructure functioning. She lives with her brother, who has to deal with gay-bashing thugs at school and on the streets way too often. Harper gets to briefly hobnob with Gotham’s elite after winning a ticket to a Wayne charity event. Soon afterwards, she gets a punk-rock haircut (in response to bullies beating up her brother and slashing his hair). And soon after that, she and her brother have a close encounter with the Batman after he saves them from an attack. This sets off Harper’s own obsession with the Dark Knight, as she goes on to use her job skills to discover how Batman moves about the city. Will she be able to aid Batman, or is her adventuresome spirit going to get her into more trouble?
Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice change-up and a focus on a new character — Scott Snyder had hoped to use either Cassandra Cain or Stephanie Brown, but of course, they got nixed by DC (the DiDio/Johns/Lee machine has reasonlessly decided it hates both characters), so he came up with this new character. She’s extremely likeable and fun, and I look forward to seeing more of her. And kudos to Becky Cloonan, the first woman to ever draw an issue of either “Batman” or “Detective Comics” — she does a great job — very expressive, fun artwork, and I’m hoping we’ll see more of her, too.
Barbara is visiting Detective McKenna, a dirty cop with an obsession with Batgirl, hoping to get a lead on Knightfall and her crew of superpowered murderers. But they get a visit from Batwoman, who has been put on the trail of McKenna by the D.E.O. She has no trouble cleaning Batgirl’s clock — of course, Batgirl seems to spend every issue getting her ass kicked. But they team up when Knightfall calls McKenna and demands Batgirl return to them so they can kill her. Can they handle the superpowered lunatics in the Disgraced? And will they learn the secrets Knightfall is hiding?
Verdict: Thumbs up. I am getting tired of everyone using Babs Gordon as a punching bag, but this was mostly an excellent issue. Good dialogue and action, good character work for both Batgirl and Batwoman. And it’s nice to see Babs’ psychotic brother, James Jr., still keeping his hand in the game.
Today’s Cool Links:
- Some sad news to start the week off: Joe Kubert has died at the age of 85. The man drew the best dang war comics the world has ever seen — and seriously, if you’ve never done so, go out and read as many of Kubert’s Sgt. Rock comics as you can — and he founded the Kubert School to teach people how to make good comics. Hats off for one of the best guys in the comics biz.
- Dang, Fantagraphics, this is just low-class. Not even DC or Marvel go casually dissing independent comics creators, especially ones as successful and interesting as Molly Crabapple. It’s deeply disappointing that the foremost independent comics publisher thinks it’s okay to treat any comics creator this way.
- A great essay by a deaf man who gets a new hearing aid and is able to hear music for the very first time.
- We all need more laughter in our lives.