Once upon a time, the comic marketplace was awash with grim and gritty tales of anti-heroes, borderline villains, and overwhelming despair. One hero rose above that marketplace, shining like a beacon of hope. That hero brought fun back to comics under the pen of a writer who cared enough to make his comics strong, readable, and most importantly, fun. That writer worked with a myriad of artists over a short period of time, but those artists all brought their A-game to the book and helped make the character shine.
Those of you who have been reading comics since before 2000 might be thinking that I just described Mark Waid’s tenure on “The Flash.” I very well could have been, but in this case, the writer I mentioned is Bryan Q. Miller and the character he pours so much devotion into is Batgirl. Miller has put a great deal of effort and care into building the world around Stephanie Brown, and this issue is a splendid encapsulation of what has come to be the standard fare for “Batgirl.”
As part of the Batman Inc. network, Stephanie now has some eye-popping resources at her disposal, and Miller lets us celebrate those resources right alongside Steph. Her excitement is nearly tangible and the way she uses those resources put an irrepressible smile on my face as I read this issue. The downside to Batgirl carving out a corner of the Bat-verse means that Oracle has backed off, allowing Proxy to step up as the intelligence mission commander for Batgirl. It’s a clean assembly of a cast that makes Miller’s work seem even more effortless in this book.
Ramon Bachs puts imagery to Miller’s words in this issue with artwork that is detailed and playful. In some spots, I found myself readily comparing Bachs to Amanda Conner, at other points closer to Todd Nauck. There were even some odd panels where Bachs’ work held tinges of Steve Dillon’s style. All in all, the art is every bit as playful as the story. Put together, the blend of story, character, and art make this book one of the titles I look forward to month in and month out. Without fail, I’m always pleased when I close the back cover, and this issue is no exception.
The world of “Batman, Inc.” may seem overwhelming to some. The array of Bat-titles boggles the mind. For my $2.99, though, this book won’t be beat by Batman-related title or, well, almost any other title each month.