Batgirl’s wannabe partner the Grey Ghost is dead, killed by the Reavers, a secret society of college students with tech suits granting enhanced abilities. This issue we see more of them than ever – especially in the case of one who generates copies of himself – as they engineer a prison breakout. With other Gotham heroes busy, Steph calls the cavalry.
That’s the female, teenage, super-powered cavalry, in the shape of Supergirl, Stargirl, Miss Martian and Bombshell. And while they make short work of the Reavers, Steph can’t rest as she learns that they were they to murder one particular prisoner – her father, the Cluemaster.
The super-girl gang is a nice surprise; prior to diving into Blackgate Penitentiary from a chopper, Steph tells someone via communicator to keep their ear out. Supergirl, obviously – but I didn’t expect her to have help. It’s good to see the DC Universe’s young heroines keep in touch even if they aren’t in the same group. There’s no call for deep characterisation, but writer Bryan Q Miller gives them all a bit of banter. Talented lad that he is, he even makes Bombshell, the sourest of Teen Titans, endearing without tossing out her bolshy nature.
As Steph herself says, calling for help doesn’t make her weak – if you’re outnumbered and outgunned, summoning aid shows you’re strong enough to put your pride aside to get the job done. And survive.
I won’t be sad if we never see the Reavers again in the post-Flashpoint DCU – I’ve never been a fan of criminals in mechanical suits, and none of them have shown much personality. Still, they’ve served to demonstrate Steph’s pluck and ingenuity … who knew a Bat-Person could deal with a super-speedster on the hop?
The death of the Grey Ghost – mad bomber turned wannabe crimefighter Clancy – doesn’t have much impact. I suspect he was quickly shuffled off-stage as Miller clears the loose ends of the book. I’m more interested in Detective Nick Gage, who gets some backstory here. We learn that his involvement with an earlier incarnation of the Reavers led to his fiancee’s death. A little later Steph says he should give Barbara Gordon a call, because ‘she digs you’. Who knows, maybe this is a set-up for something in the new Batgirl title, as Babs gets her Bat-beret out of mothballs. Probably not, but now I feel I’ve been given permission to imagine a continuing DCU in which Babs and Gage are dating, while Steph protects Gotham’s streets.
In my pocket DCU, Steph will enjoy regular team-ups with Kara, as the latter suggests here. These two are great together. Of course, we don’t know that Steph isn’t going to have some crimefighting role in the new DCU; co-publisher Dan DiDio seems to have hinted she’ll be Spoiler once more. I prefer her as Batgirl, but if we can’t have that, I’m happy to have her around and, preferably, in her own title.
Ah, I’ve gone off on one. This comic’s not done yet, there’s an issue to go. I’ve not even mentioned the very attractive artwork of Pere Perez, who manages to make the teen heroines look good without going too far. His layouts are great, playing to Miller’s witty script – click on the image to enlarge. I’m very fond of his use of close-ups, too. Too many artists stick to the middle distance but Perez will go right in. Dustin Nguyen’s cover is well-composed, atmospheric and has great figurework. I’d like less purple, but it’s still excellent.
Next issue it’s daughter vs dad in what should be a delightfully awkward family reunion. Can’t wait.