Monday, April 8, 2013

Batgirl #6 (September 2000)

Writers:  Kelley Puckett, Scott Peterson
Pencils:  Damion Scott
Inks:  Robert Campanella
Colors:  Jason Wright
Letters:  John Constanza
The pressure of language. I think Paul Simon coined that phrase in a song on his 1990 album Rhythm of the Saints and Damion Scott perfectly depicts it on the highly symbolic cover to this issue.  Poor Cass has at last met her first real nemesis-- that sometimes merciless foe we call language and it is thoroughly kicking her ass.  Along with a lot of other people, including those she loves.  Not just physically, but emotionally as well.  Now Cass knows the words and their meanings, but she can't defend herself and the thing she enjoys most-- her nonpareil fighting skill-- has become problematic.  Yes, words can hurt but never so literally as here, where Cass checks out her reflection in some broken glass and finds herself battered and bruised.  She's such a little hardcase it leaves her smirking.  The kid knows physical pain.  It's like a visit from an old friend who hasn't stopped by in a while.

This issue features one of my favorite Cass moments.  She's infuriated at a gunman who shoots one of his own gang members and decides to each him a lesson by stopping his heart for three seconds while a horrified Batman watches.  She even gives Batman a raised palm as if to say, "Hold on, cornbread, until I ring the school bell."  Batman's peeved until Cass takes some bullets later while rushing another gunman head-on so she can save Jeffers (the guy who reorganized her brain so she could understand language) and the dirty scientist who drugged him until he became a mind-reader.  All you have to do to make Batman love you is commit suicide.

The shooting is one of my least-favorite Cass moments.  Any of the times Cass has been shot, actually.  I've known two people who've been shot.  The first was a classmate of mine in high school.  In the shoulder.  TV detectives traditionally get shot in the shoulder all the time.  You know, nothing all that vital in the shoulder,  no problem.  Except it is a problem.  A big one.  Getting shot anywhere is a huge deal.  My high school acquaintance had to rehabilitate her arm and wore a sling and then a plastic wrist brace the rest of the semester.

The second person is a very close friend of mine.  A mugger shot him in the leg because he tried to reason with the guy instead of just handing over his wallet or running away (like his brother did).  The bullet broke the bone.  Which broke again six weeks later when he took off the cast to go on a camping trip.  A few years later he served in Iraq and earned his Combat Infantryman Badge without so much as a nick.  I find this ironic.

Anyway, Batgirl gets hit four times, some of them almost point-blank, but you know she'll do the comic book version of walking it off with no lingering after-effects.  Okay, in a world where people can fly and magic is real I should probably just just assume Cass's costume has some kind of super-thin ballistic material in it that keeps those bullets from going too deep or that DC universe biology operates under Magnum, P.I. rules.

Oh-- Cass shows a lot of personality when she's losing her temper at the gunman.  That sets up her teaching moment perfectly.  It's kind of extreme, but she's extremely angry at the time.  But later in the comic, when she starts narrating in a clipped Frank Miller-style narrative, I wondered why she sounded so much like a generic comic book tough guy.  There's nothing uniquely Cass in the voice Puckett gives her.  That's disappointing.

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