Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Batgirl vol. 1 by Gail Simone

Part of DC's rebooted New 52 series, Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl deals with physical and emotional baggage as she slowly but surely gets back into the cape and cowl.  Gail Simone was famously fired then rehired on the title due to fan outcry.

1.  In the bat-family books, (Batwoman, Batgirl, Nightwing, etc) Batman tends to show up quite a lot but these characters never show up in Batman books.  Why is that?  Are these characters ultimately unnecessary to the bat-universe?

2.  In the last Batgirl arc before it was rebooted with this volume, our titular heroine was shot in the spine and as a result became wheelchair bound.  How did you feel about that being reversed in this book?  Could it have gone any other way?

3.  The Catwoman reboot was panned for its blatant tendency to draw the heroine half naked and in sexual poses.  Does Batgirl suffer the same fate?  How does this title measure up to other female superhero comics?

4.    Some of the bat-family titles are criticized because these heroes don’t have any established villains like say, the Joker.  Do you think Batgirl suffers from this problem? 

5.  Simone was fired from writing Batgirl then quickly rehired after fan reaction in December.  There is not much information as to why.  Why do you think the decision was made?

6.  You hear Batgirl’s voice throughout the book as she is narrating.  How do you feel about this storytelling style?  How did it characterize her?

7.  When Barbara Gordon was wheelchair bound before, she was an information broker known as Oracle.  Why does Simone acknowledge the injury but not the past identity?

8.  Do you think the best way for a female superhero to be decently written is for her to be written by a female author?

9.  When Simone was fired from DC, she was looking into creator-owned material instead.  Do you think it was a curse instead of a blessing that she was put back on Batgirl?  Do you think her creativity is best spent on other comics?

RASL series by Jeff Smith

RASL was Jeff Smith's first comic series after the hugely successful Bone.  This series takes a darker turn with time traveling, science fiction, and noir elements. 
1.  Jeff Smith is best known for his kid friendly cartoon epic Bone.  How does RASL differ from that series? 
2.  Judging from his career arc from Bone to RASL, what's next for Jeff Smith?
3.  The sexy premise of the series: a noirish time travelling art thief, does not hold even far past the first volume.  Why is this premise so quickly abandoned?
4.  What is Jeff Smith's deal with Nikola Tesla?  Some chapters were entirely devoted to the man.
5.  What is the importance of the super large pages of RASL?  So many graphic novels adhere to a standard size.  Is the size an advantage of self-publishing?
6.  Jeff Smith took a lot of time off after Bone and spent time in a remote desert drawing sketches and pages for RASL.  Did this extreme way of finding a muse pay off, did it hinder the series?  Smith also spent time in a forested U.S. national park for Bone inspiration.
7.  Smith took a year studying string theory and the latest science in parallel dimensions before he started RASL.  Did he convey that understanding to his readers in later volumes?
8.  None of the characters are terribly likeable.  Is this just an unavoidable flaw in noir stories?
9.  Most of the female characters in RASL are of little consequence or are strippers or both.  I seem to recall Grandma Ben and Thorn were well written female characters in Bone.  What happened?  Is it an effort to be “edgy?”