Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Comic Shop Comics: August 26

Batgirl #43 (DC Comics) Given how crazy the worlds of superhero comics can be, even those featuring the more "realistic" characters like Batgirl–who, you will recall, spent the last two issues teaming up with her robot battlesuit-wearing father to fight a woman made out of lightning–whenever I see something that I just can't believe and thinking "bullshit" in my head, it is, of course, immediately followed by a little voice in my head questioning why I'm questioning that. "You're okay with the girl who dresses like a bat to fight supervillains, but not this, Caleb? Really?"

I had one of those moments in this issue of Batgirl. Someone has apparently been letting tigers loose in Burnside-area tech firms to kill employees working too late, and Batgirl stops one of the tigers by tackling it, holding it aloft for at least a second and then bodyslamming it.
As artist Babs Tarr's work makes clear, tigers are very, very big; much bigger than Batgirl. According to Wikipedia, there are a half-dozen different species of tiger, and assuming these weren't one of the smallest two–and the tiger she fights is obviously not–then if she were bodyslamming the smallest possible female from any of the other four remaining species, that's still a 200-pound animal.

But man, look at the size of that thing; I don't think Batman could manhandle it like Batgirl does there. And then she gets swatted by it and doesn't die.

Sorry Batgirl, I had issues with this scene. Between the mystery of the maulings, Babs is trying to help Alysia plan her wedding to an animal activist and trying to keep her partner Frankie, who has been acting as Oracle to her Black Canary, off the streets.

Who's behind the tiger attacks? She's shown in a last page reveal, and named in the "Next Issue" text: "Next: THe Velvet Tiger!" That is literally the only Batgirl villain I can think of, so I am honestly surprised she hasn't appeared in Birds of Prey or any issue of any of the three previous volumes of Batgirl comics before.

While I had some difficulty in believing in Barbara Gordon's ability to beat up tigers, Tarr's art more than made up for that. My favorite bits? Definitely the reveal of how she stashes her Batcycle when she parks it...
...and the scene at the end where Frankie bandages up her tiger claw wound.
In the case of the former, it's a neat idea, executed really well. I like the way Paul Pope's Batman: Year 100 Batman stashes his motorcycles better, because they looked cooler, but this was in the same vein.

As for the bandaged up scene, I like the way Tarr draws Batgirl sort of half-wearing her bra. Tarr really excels on making things look sexy, and realistic and sexier still because they are realistic all at the same time.

Batman '66 #26 (DC) Speaking of sexy, check out Mike Allred's Poison Ivy '66 on the cover of this month's issue. Jeez.

Now normally, I see Allred's awesome cover, and then feel at least a twinge of disappointment when I open it, and my eyes fall upon art that is quite clearly not that of Allred. I should be used to it by now–this is the twenty-sixth issue after all–but it still happens every month. This time, that disappointment did not last long at all, as the interior artist is one Jesse Hamm, and Hamm's style may not be an exact match to Allred's, but it isn't too too far removed, and I'll be damned if he doesn't draw sexy ladies as well as Allred does. His Poison Ivy is definitely the equal to Allred's.

Jeff Parker writes, as is usually the case, and he does a better-than-usual job, I think, introducing the '66 version of the villaness who never actually made it onto the show. Here she's the secret supplier of Louie The Lilac's various flowers and flora, and his apparent murderer, as the first page finds our heroes looking down on Louie's rigid corpse. ("Holy mortality!" Robin excalims; real professional there, kid.)

This Poison Ivy may look exactly like her comic book equivalent (or, at least, the most standard look the character has sported over the decades), but Parker and Hamm give her a swell plant arsenal, including some plant men she grows out of a pot (who are easy enough to imagine having appeared on the TV show), a Batman-eating Jupiter Fly Trap ("'Xause I need a way bigger planet than Venus for her name!" Ivy boasts) and a very cool looking giant tree ("a Costa Rican Walking Tree that actually walks," Batman observes)...the last of which definitely would not have, and could not have, appeared on the TV show.

In addition to the great, imaginative art and rejiggering of Ivy to make her fit the TV show's milieu (She also speaks with an almost Rogue-like southern accent), Parker manages to reference a certain Seal song from the Batman Forever soundtrack. Now, Ivy was in Batman and Robin, not Batman Forever, but I suppose when one sees an opportunity to have Batman '66 speak lyrics from a Batman movie soundtrack, one has to seize it.

Lumberjanes #17 (Boom Studios) Hey, what's going to happen when they publish enough issues that the entire back cover is filled up with merit badges? Will they keep shrinking the sizes of the badges to fit more on there, or...?


CBrown said...

Maybe Batgirl has super-strength now? Not just because of the way she threw that tiger around, but as cool as that fold-up motorcycle is, it's still a motorcycle, and so would weigh as much as a motorcycle, right? And that'd be pretty heavy to lift up and hook onto the ceiling like that. It's still great-looking art, though.

Anonymous said...

I just read the first trade collection of the new Batgirl yesterday, so the lack of black outlines around the word balloons in the panels you posted took me off guard. When did that happen? And how can we make it stop happening? I hate the way word balloons look without outlines.

Evan Dawson-Baglien said...

The current world record for a deadlift by a women (a deadlift being the type of lift Barbara's lifting of the tiger most resembles) is 683 pounds. The woman who holds the record, Becca Swanson, is much, much larger than Barbara (she bears a rather striking resemblance to the Marvel supervillainess Titania). Considering how huge that tiger is drawn, I'm also incredulous.

I think the reason the tiger thing seems impossible, while Livewire doesn't, is that tigers actually exist, and actually have fought humans. So we have some frame of reference to compare them to.

Livewire, by contrast, is totally made up. So we have to take the writer's word for it whether or not she can be defeated. Her powers and limitations are completely made up, so they can be whatever is convenient for the story. The only way to violate the reader's expectations would be to make the story inconsistent.

Since tigers are real, their powers and limitations cannot be freely invented by the writer. If a writer portrays a fight with a tiger inaccurately, we have actual accounts of fights with tigers to compare it to.

SallyP said...

Yeah, the whole fighting tigers bare-handed just confuses the heck out of me. I like Batgirl, I like her a lot, but this is just a tad...ridiculous.

No, VERY ridiculous.