Welcome back to the $40 Pull List!
We have three books to cover this month. First we have Batgirl #10, and a look at the political aspects of that issue. Next I take a crack at another “aside” issue from The Sixth Gun, and then round things off with another look at an old friend – Deadpool.
On to the comics!
NEW COMICS – JUNE 13th, 2012
Batgirl busts some carjackers in an affluent area of Gotham, but starts to question whether or not she is just bullying the poor. Her suspicions turn out to be correct when it is revealed that the rich women who owned the property she protected have a hidden agenda. Batgirl goes back to the scene to check up on the hood that was caught in the bear trap, and she is met by a group of vigilantes known as the Disgraced – who either want Batgirl to join them, or be destroyed.
Issues like this make me groan. Politics in comics is such a touchy thing, and there are far more ways to do it wrong than to do it properly. If handled correctly, a little politics in a story can be thought provoking. However in order to accomplish that, the writer has to remain objective and has to allow the reader to experience a new point of view, without damning the old one.
I have read far worse issues in terms of being politically heavy-handed, but this one was just on the wrong side of that fine line. Instead of just having the antagonists happen to be in a wealthy circle, Simone goes out of her way to invoke the theme that all rich people are evil. Batgirl’s roomate’s participation (and arrest) in an Occupy Gotham rally, and Batgirl’s own thoughts about how wrong it was for rich people to try and revitalize a neighborhood, or her willingness to excuse grand larceny because the criminals are just the “desperate poor,” are just a few examples. I give Simone credit for at least pointing out that Bruce Wayne is using his money to do the same thing by putting Barbara in the position of having to defend him, but that felt more like glaring contradiction that Simone just couldn’t ignore rather than a real attempt at balance.
I know Gail Simone is a liberal – she is open and unapologetic about it. There is nothing wrong with that – I fundamentally disagree with her politics, but that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t write comics (or even put some of her philosophy in what she writes)! But a Batgirl comic is not the place to wield the political broad brush.
Alysia (Barbara’s roommate) could be used better toward that end. Having an Occupy supporting character is reasonable, and a fantastic way for Simone to introduce those ideas to the story. Having a single character express Simone’s political beliefs while leaving the protagonist neutral would allow the story to take center stage, and not a divisive and highly debatable political opinion. Batgirl is not Green Arrow or Hawkman, or any other character with strong political motivations, and this isn’t the way to turn her into one.
The trouble here is that she doesn’t weave that character into a diverse fabric. The issue starts with Batgirl locked in an internal struggle over the fact that she may just be “beating up on the poor” and protecting the evil rich people. Grand larceny is not the same as stealing food or small amounts of money to feed yourself and family – and Simone portraying the car thieves as victims stretched believability. Instead of Batgirl’s usual self-doubt about the job she is doing, she instead is locked finds herself debating whether or not she should be helping the evil rich people!
Quickly, her suspicions are validated when the women do indeed turn out to be the evil rich, who make a very real victim out of one of the thieves. Batgirl makes a mistake in this issue by not waiting with the thief for medical help – not because the rich are evil and the thieves are all victims (as Simone seemingly indicated), but because the “Disgraced” in their finery posing as “security” were suspicious, and the entire scene screamed that something was wrong.
Simone once (respectfully and civilly, to her credit) challenged Dave Sim about whether or not his work was accessible to all, or just those of a particular political/sociological bent. With this issue, I think she forgot to ask herself that question. There is a good story beneath all of this, but it was just overwhelmed by the heavy-handed political grandstanding.
Kirby Hale returns! After a quick tryst with a woman at a bar, Kirby makes his way to an appointment with a group who were going to auction the five guns Hale failed to steal. He arrives late – and instead finds his clients dead. Their killers – Missy Hume and her hirelings – want to hire him to steal the guns for her. Kirby agrees, and sets out to find the Gallows Tree – so it can tell him where to find the pistols.
I really enjoy this kind of issue from the Sixth Gun. Many comics will just throw a new (or returning) character into the mix right away, but Bunn actually takes a step back and brings the reader up to speed about the new element about to come into the story. When Hale finally does cross paths with Drake and Becky again, we will all know exactly where he came from, why he is there, and how he found them. And we are all reminded about who he is, and why Becky is likely to shoot him on site.
Tyler Crook fills in for Brian Hurtt in this issue, and he does a fantastic job. Crabtree continuing to handle the colors helps a lot (the color is such a huge part of this book’s visual appeal), but Crook does a fantastic job subbing in. He also worked on issue #14 – so I guess he was well received after that work if he is back again here.
Deadpool, reeling after his defeat at the hands of the Trapster, seeks out the Taskmaster to train him. Taskmaster agrees – but on the condition that Deadpool help him rob a SHIELD facility as payment. Intelligentcia, having hacked the security feed, sees that Deadpool has resurfaced. Trapster notices that his hand still hasn’t healed, so he rushes to the facility in the hopes of adding another victory to his record.
Ug, Way is still doing the multi-colored narration boxes? It wasn’t the only reason I stopped reading this book before, but it did contribute to my general dislike over the way the character was being handled. It doesn’t seem to be quite as over-the-top as it was before, which is a good thing, but it still isn’t everything I once liked about Deadpool.
There is some good here – Taskmaster’s reaction and plan for Deadpool and Trapster’s triumph over his victory were all outstanding – just enough good to make the title interesting, despite the obnoxious narration. The issue was good enough to make me curious about what comes next, so I think we will be keeping this one around for a while. It was wacky and fun – and with Reed Gunther’s departure from the list, that is something we have been lacking. Hopefully Way is up to the task in the long term.
RELEASED SO FAR
Dial H #2, $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 06/06/2012 ON TIME
Earth 2 #2, $3.99, DC Comics. Due Out 06/06/2012 ON TIME
Journey Into Mystery #639, $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due Out 06/06/2012 ON TIME
Batgirl #10, $2.99, DC Comics. Due out 06/13/2012 ON TIME
The Sixth Gun #23, $3.99, Oni Press. Due Out 06/13/2012 ON TIME
Deadpool #56, $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due Out 06/13/2012 ON TIME
STILL TO COME
CASHING IN THE TRADE BANK: Daytripper TP, $19.99, DC Comics. Released 02/01/2012
Blue Beetle #10, $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 06/20/2012
Nightwing #10, $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 06/20/2012
Daredevil #14, $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due Out 06/20/2012
Journey Into Mystery #640, $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due Out 06/20/2012
John Carter: Gods of Mars #4 (of 5), $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due out 06/27/2012
I still have a bunch of Free Comics to give away. This week’s passkey is ThomCruz!
Thanks again for reading. We will have 4 more books next week to cover, and then we will round off the month with John Carter and the Trade Bank.
See you next week!