Friday, May 24, 2024

Batgirl and the rise of Blacksun

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Well Babs, I hate to say I told you so, but…yeah you get it. My issues with the current run of Batgirl Rebirth have been pretty much straight to the point. It presents itself far too much like a prime time teenage drama than it does a superhero story. Yet, two aspects in the storyline have been keeping my interest sated, if not hoping that Hope Larson is teasing us be waiting on drawing them out for effect.

With the conclusion coming in the next two issue or so, I hope she doesn’t wait that long. The first being the mystery if whether Ian is truly like his father or if he actually has an agenda that is “good”. This is overshadowed by the plot of Babs dating him and wondering it herself, but as much as I love her character…let us decide? Like a drama, this preconditions us to not like him; of course more than the fact that he’s the Penguin’s son, neglectful past or no.

The second is the use of technology through Ethan’s company VicForm. This is a two fold problem for Babs. First, of course, she is Batfam. While all of a Batfam are trained in martial arts, a lot of their reliance on technology. VicForm itself though is a provider of new apps, some helpful, some offensive, see the last few issues for which ones I mean. Yet, what’s most problematic how each of these apps draw a response from Batgirl.

The last time we saw Babs she was juggling wit her busy life as Batgirl, a tutor for children and keeping up with her social life and dating Ethan. Batgirl took the biggest hit from this overwhelming lifestyle. Throughout the issue we saw the effect this was having on her as whole while themes like data mining and masquerade balls run around. By the end of the comic Batgirl finally comes face to face with the Penguin, so as you might think, we were waiting anxiously for this next installment and hoping that it is better than the last few.

Like Father, Like Sun

Of course the biggest selling point of this issue is why after so long, is Penguin finally noticing Ethan. In Issue #8 we were given a pretty detailed backstory foe Ethan and his eventual drive to confront his father. Yet it seems now that even though Penguin wanted absolutely nothing to do with his son, Ethan had another agenda. Using the funds for college that were given to him by his father, that were not needed, he founded VicForm but it is clear now that he has a sinister plan coming to light. Told you so Barbara, I so told you so. Turns out Penguin came to Batgirl for help.

Honestly who wouldn’t riot if someone sold your dog?

Apparently a riot broke out at the Iceberg Lounge; Penguin seems to think it was Ethan who orchestrated it, a cry for attention, a chance to prove himself to his father. I actually really loved this part of the comic, it was a very smart move on Larson’s part and a wonderful roundup of all the themes that were keeping this flawed series together. Penguin was right, turns out the three main rioters were data mined by Ethan’s apps. He released very troubling information about each of them to their cellphones, while under the influence, a mix that would turn anyone into a raging drunk. Of course the genius of this plan was that it was a riot, no actual crime was committed so as much as Det. Gordon would like to go further, it’s something Batgirl would need to handle personally.

By the end of the issue, Ethan finally confront his father and reveals that Penguin was right. He was trying to impress his father, yet Oswald is sure that this is a hostile takeover disguised as a son looking to join the family business. Turns out Ethan does want to help Oswald. To bring his organization into the future, using technology to fix everything old and traditional. Also to give unleash his new identity as, Blacksun.

Blacksun Wages War on Barbara Gordon

I know I’m a huge critic when it comes to the plot line of Bab’s and Ethan’s dating scenes, but there’s only so much you can’t not show because it is part of the plot. At least this time around it felt way more real. In the previous issue when Babs left the masquerade to follow her lead on the Penguin, Ethan noticed. Of course he texted her in due time, she wanted to meet to apologize. But along the way as Batgirl she finally had perspective hit her, especially after what she witnessed at the Iceberg Lounge, his information mining was dangerous. As she planned to break it off with him, he sent an intern to beat her to punch, what a scumbag!

I’m gonna state the obvious here: he knows Barbara is Batgirl. It hasn’t been revealed yet but if you look closely you can see it. First the attack on social media on Batgirl. Ethan releases tons of photos of Batgirl’s little meeting with Oswald to the press and they go everywhere. Of course being sad is a normal response to being betrayed by someone you sort of cared about like this. So Nightwing to the rescue. I will always go down with this ship, there’s something always so right about when Dick and Babs are together, so of course Ethan ruins even that now. After an app user under his influence captures the two together and sends it to Ethan he takes it clearly the wrong way. I mean come man, you broke up with her…with an intern!

There’s being a baby and then there’s this guy

What comes next I wouldn’t even expect from the worst of jealous ex-boyfriends.

While out and about with Frankie and Alyssia, we do get sometime to catch up with Babs best friends. If you were able to catch the Batgirl annual or read our review of it, you would know that this was time that was sorely needed. This nice outing turns to horror when a cars runs through the restaurant, apparently a loss of control on the drivers end. If only it was that, in reality it was Ethan. Since the driver was a user of one of VicForms technology, a car on autopilot. Clearly he jumps the gun on his feelings a little too quick. Everyone on earth is guilty of this, but not to the point of trying to kill.

The Art

As much as I cannot stand Ethan, you have to admit; the Blacksun costume is pretty damn cool. It even takes on a monocle of it’s own, the boy really loves his father I guess. The issue was very light on fight scenes which was kind of suckish but that’s okay because the story was actually pretty good. Instead we are given pretty aesthetically pleasing representations of technology and their effects on all the background characters. The cover was great but very misleading…I would have loved to see a Batgirl and Det. Gordon team up fight…

I mean his costume is the only thing going for him.

Final Thoughts

This wasn’t everything I look for in a Batgirl comic, but damn it was way better than the last two issues. Hope Larson uses her previous plot devices to her advantage and focuses on exploiting the ones that were better than the rest. While the vibe is still pretty teenage drama like, it’s becoming a smarter mystery with everyday technology being used to personally attack one person, a horrifying reality of today and a question on how important mental health is to a romantic relationship. If the writing keeps up like this then I’ll be really excited to see what comes next. While there was little to no action in this comic, were given a heavy focus on plot and dialogue which actually was handled quite well, given the more mystery this book added to this arc, which was new and new is what we need from Batgirl.

Final Score: 8/10

DC Universe Rebirth Batgirl #9: Son of the Penguin, Part 4
Script: Hope Larson
Pencils and Cover: Chris Wildgoose
Inks: Jon Lam
Colors: Mat Lopes
Letters: Deron Bennett
Images courtesy of DC Comics

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