Thursday, September 26, 2013

Batgirl #17 (August 2001)

Writer:  Kelley Puckett
Pencils:  Damion Scott
Inks:  Robert Campanella
Colors:  Jason Wright
Letters:  John Constanza

When a simple street thug manages to hit Batgirl in the face-- and it's such a feeble blow she barely reacts-- Batman and Oracle start arguing about what it means.  Batman thinks Batgirl needs vengeance against the CIA goon who killed a man she tried to protect, Oracle thinks she needs some time in the sunlight.

I'm going to have to go with Barbara Gordon on this one.  After all,  Batman is a one-idea man.  Batman thinks vengeance is the answer to any problem.  Lightbulb didn't last as long as advertised?  Vengeance.  And this is before writers made Barbara's concerns more about forcing Cass into a traditional gender role box, at least the comic book version of one.  As written by Puckett, Barbara comes off as genuinely concerned about Cass's well-being and not the shrill one-size-fits-all harangue-artist she'd appear to be later in the series.  This leads to an emotionally affecting sequence where Cass quite literally crawls out of a hole in the ground to commune in the daylight with ordinary people.  Drawn by Scott and Campanella, and colored by Wright in a yellow monochrome that captures the dazzle effect of harsh sunshine, it's a silent moment depicting just how apart from normal life Cass exists.  Fantastic job on her facial expressions as she shields her eyes because daylight is too bright for her-- it's really quite touching and sad.

We get the action, too.  Batman and Oracle send Batgirl out to erase her government files, restoring her anonymity.  Oracle offers radioed advice which Batgirl largely ignores, and then it's time for Batman's form of therapy.  We've seen Batgirl dodge bullets before, but this time Scott uses a simple two-panel cut-- bad guy shooting, angry Cass standing there with a lot of holes in the wall behind her.

Flower make yet another symbolic appearance as Cass adopts a single rose.  At story's end she and Barbara enjoy a day out together and Barbara demonstrates to Cass how to care for her little flower.  A cut flower is essentially dead, isn't it?  No matter how long you try to keep it in water the blossom will wither and the petals will fall off one by one.

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